Top 40 Bestselling Authors of the 20th Century

The list below was compiled by researching the year end bestseller lists (1900 – 1999) of both Publishers Weekly and the NY Times to see the frequency with which authors made the list, as well as, how high they placed on the list. It’s an interesting measure of American tastes in fiction and pop culture. The author who ranked way ahead of all others is Danielle Steel, who appeared on the lists a cumulative total of 52 times. Stephen King came in second with 45 appearances.

  1. Danielle Steel
  2. Stephen King
  3. James A. Michener
  4. Sidney Sheldon
  5. Mary Higgins Clark
  6. Robert Ludlum
  7. Lloyd C. Douglas
  8. Sinclair Lewis
  9. Harold Robbins
  10. Daphne du Maurier
  11. Tom Clancy
  12. John Grisham
  13. John leCarre’
  14. Leon Uris
  15. Booth Tarkington
  16. Zane Grey
  17. Taylor Caldwell
  18. Frederick Forsyth
  19. John Steinbeck
  20. Herman Wouk
  21. Anne Rice
  22. A.J. Cronin
  23. Irving Wallace
  24. Judith Krantz
  25. Irving Stone
  26. Edna Ferber
  27. Eleanor H. Porter
  28. Arthur Hailey
  29. Dean Koontz
  30. John O’Hara
  31. Michael Crichton
  32. Ernest Hemingway
  33. Jackie Collins
  34. James Clavell
  35. William J. Locke
  36. Mary Johnston
  37. Edith Wharton
  38. Allen Drury
  39. Patricia Cornwell
  40. Jacqueline Susann