49 most-translated authors from around the world
Humankind may have its differences, but we all have a lot in common when you think about the big picture. For instance, name a culture on the planet that doesn’t love a good story. In fact, since the dawn of mankind, civilization has simply relished in the art of storytelling, first through oral tradition and then on the printed page. Even now—in the age of omnipresent screens—storytelling thrives.
Any astute reader will know, however, that not all stories are created equal (nor are all natural storytellers). Some authors may be absolute legends on the home front, but fall short when it comes to presenting on the world’s stage. Then you have your global phenomenons, authors whose stories have enraptured hearts and minds in multiple countries across the world...after rigorous translation, that is. You might ask: who are the most translated authors of all time?
As always, Stacker is on the task. Pulling data from UNESCO, we’ve compiled a list of the most translated authors from around the world. UNESCO sorted the data according to the exact number of times an author’s written works have been translated. Can you guess who grabbed the number one spot? Or do you need a clue? We’ve already said too much!
#49: Gabriel García Márquez
Total Translations: 1396
In acclaimed works like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez blended history and fantasy to downright stunning effect, breathing all kinds of new life into the magic realism genre. Márquez passed away in 2014, but left behind a substantial legacy with a worldwide following to show for it. Younger audiences might know the name thanks to the author’s fascination with pop star (and fellow Colombian) Shakira.
#48: Roald Dahl
Total Translations: 1398
Undoubtedly the most scrumdiddlyumptious author of all time, Roald Dahl is highly regarded for world-famous stories like James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In spite of his indisputable success as a children’s author, however, Dahl led quite the adventurous adult life. Not only was he reportedly a British spy at one point, but before that he was a WWII fighter pilot and almost died in a crash landing.
#47: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Total Translations: 1399
Germany’s Johann Wolfgang von Goethe—better known to modern audiences simply as Goethe—lived from 1749 to 1832. During that time he was a poet, playwright, scientist, statesman and novelist among other occupations. Today, he’s best-known for Faust, a tragic two-part play in which a man sells his soul to the devil. Apparently, cultures from all around the world can relate.
#46: Charles Perrault
Total Translations: 1401
Frequently credited as the godfather of modern-day fairy tales, 17th century French writer Charles Perrault penned classic stories like Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. He was also the first writer to identify Mother Goose as a storytelling character. Suffice it to say, animation studios would have a lot less material to work with if not for this individual.
#45: Rudyard Kipling
Total Translations: 1424
Prolific poet and writer Rudyard Kipling is best-known today as the author of The Jungle Book, which has seen no shortage of translations or big-screen adaptations. However, dig just slightly beneath the surface and you’ll discover a broad range of stories, poems, speeches, novels, articles and memoirs. Born in Mumbai, India in 1865, Kipling lived to the age of 70. Right before he passed away, he woke up to discover that his obituary had already been published in the local paper. Wasting no time, he contacted the publishers to inform them that he was not in fact deceased yet.
#44: Edgar Allan Poe
Total Translations: 1437
Master of horror Edgar Allan Poe passed away in 1849 at the young age of forty, but by that time he’d already produced a lifetime of work. His stories like The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart are taught in classrooms around the world to this day. Most folks consider Poe to be a tragic figure who battled all sorts of demons and addictions, but that’s in some part due to the fact that his obituary was penned by arch nemesis, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who reportedly went heavy on the libelous claims.
#43: J.R.R. Tolkein
Total Translations: 1459
Even in the age of Harry Potter and Marvel Studios, The Lord of the Rings continues to capture hearts and minds all over the world. In order to create the authentic and immersive fantasy realm known as Middle Earth, author J.R.R. Tolkien went as far as crafting his own language: Elvish. Tolkien was in fact such a master of linguistics that he could arguably translate his own works into a number of different languages all on his own.
#42: Anton Chekhov
Total Translations: 1477
A true master of proto-modernity, Russian writer Anton Chekhov reaped substantial drama, comedy and tragedy from everyday life. His sound approach to plotting and detail would influence a legion of subsequent artists, including filmmakers like Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock. Still cited among storytelling professionals is “Chekhov’s Gun,” a dramatic principle based on a letter Chekhov wrote. It states that you shouldn’t put a gun on stage unless you plan to use it in the story.
Total Translations: 1481
No college education is complete without Plato, the revolutionary Greek thinker who studied under Socrates and instructed Aristotle. Widely considered the founder of Western political philosophy, Plato’s best-known work is The Republic, which argues for a radical shift in society and hierarchies. The work also calls for a ban on flutes, though Plato must have had a change of heart regarding that particular suggestion, given that a flute performance was apparently his dying request.
#40: Mary Higgins Clark
Total Translations: 1485
An arguable successor to Agatha Christie’s throne, mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark started out writing short stories for various ladies’ magazines before transitioning into the thriller genre. It was a wise move to say the least, as Clark has sold more than 80 million books in the US alone. Not only is the author still alive and kicking at 90, she’s still churning out titles, the most recent of which was published in 2017.2018 All rights reserved.