Who Is the Best-Selling Novelist of All Time?

British mystery writer Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. It is estimated that she sold over 2 billion works, putting Christie’s books just behind the Bible and William Shakespeare in terms of most sales. She has sold approximately a billion books in English, and another billion have been sold translated into around 45 different foreign languages. She is the most translated author, and has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare. Since her first novel was published in 1920, Christie’s 80 works have been adapted into film versions 27 times.

More about Agatha Christie:

  • In 1975, The New York Times ran an obituary when Christie killed off one of her most prolific characters, Hercule Poirot, who had appeared in 33 novels.
  • In her real life, Christie mysteriously disappeared for 11 days after finding out her husband had an affair—when questioned about it, she denied remembering her own whereabouts during that time.
  • Christie is the author of the world’s longest running play, “The Mousetrap,” which she wrote for Queen Mary. It opened in 1952 in London and has been on stage ever since, as of 2014.

Discussion Comments


Even though I've definitely learned a lot about Agatha Christie in school, on the other hand, I didn't know that she translated books into so many languages, which is actually pretty fascinating. In my opinion, it really shows how universal books are.

More than often, as Americans, I feel that we tend to forget that books have been translated into hundreds of languages, and that the English language isn't the primary language of reading.

However, this can apply to anyone, honestly. When we speak a certain language, we might view the world in a different manner, and ignorantly assume that said language is (and should be) the dominant one.

However, the fact that her books have been translated into more languages than even Shakespeare himself, really shows how much people enjoy reading.


@Krunchyman - Based on my experience, I used to be a writer, but I decided to pursue a different career because I realized that it wasn't exactly what I wanted. However, either way, I can definitely give you some helpful advice.

If you desire to become a writer or a novelist, the first thing that you need to establish the tone and setting for your characters. After all, unlike movies and TV shows, where you can rely on visuals to help tell the story, that's certainly not the case with books.

In other words, it's always good to make sure to be as descriptive as possible. Also, here is one more piece of advice that I have for you in regards to becoming a novelist or writer.

The most important thing is that you need to make sure you always have fresh ideas, especially if you plan on selling so many copies.

No matter what you're writing for, books in this case, the reason why you want to have good ideas is so that you don't alienate your audience. Have you ever had one of those times where you grew bored of reading an author's works because their stories always followed the exact same format?

In case you don't know, that's called being formulaic. Overall, that's definitely something you want to avoid.


Even though this is some very interesting information about best selling novels, it really leads me to wonder how someone who is a novelist ends up becoming so popular in the first place. For the past few years, I've always aspired to be a writer, so reading bits and pieces of this information are actually pretty interesting. Just a thought, but does anyone have some advice on what it takes to be a novelist?

Post your comments
Forgot password?