In the year 1007 a Japanese noble woman, Murasaki Shikibu, wrote the world’s first full novel. Called “The tale of Genji,” it tells the story of a prince looking for love and wisdom. In its English translation it covers 54 chapters over 1000 pages of text.
By the Middle Ages there were many novels about kings and heroic knights but in the late 1500s the anti-romance movement took roots and villains became the main characters. The first such novel was “Life of Lazarillo de Tormes”, written in 1554 by an unknown author. It is the story of a poor boy who makes his way in the world by tricking his employers.
The antinovel was invented by the French. Antinovel writers insist that traditional novels sketch a false appearance of the world in much the the same way as television soap operas do – or as Murasaki Shikibu did. Instead of creating fantasy plots and characters, antinovelists emphasize the minute details of life and the world.
The author who wrote the most novels ever also is a women. Dame Barbara Cartland (7/1/1901 – 5/21/2000) completed a novel every two weeks, publishing more than 723 novels, which sold more than 1 billion copies in 36 languages, making her the best-selling novelist of all time.
The record for the fastest selling book of all time is also held by a woman: Joanne Rowling (b. 31 July 1965) – she has no middle name – writing under the pen name JK Rowling. Her Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series, sold 11 million copies within 24 hours. It bettered the record of 9 million copies sold in the first day held by the sixth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In fact, the last four books in the series had set the record for fastest-selling book within 24 hours. Ten years after the first installment, some 350 million fans have bought Harry Potter books, ensuring a woman becoming the world’s first billionaire writer.