Some of the World’s Most Prolific People

A good work ethic is a lot like a sense of humour in that very few people in our society would admit to not having one. Courtesy of the workaholic, 24/7 mindset that is a lingering hangover from the early European colonizers of our country (for example, all those dour Scottish Presbyterians, fastidious Germans, and punctilious, stiff-upper lipped Brits) many of us are perpetually saddled with the idea that busyness (and business) is next to Godliness.

Fortunately, I suffer from a malingering malady that makes me more or less immune to this twaddle. In fact, as I’m freely willing to admit, I’m about as lethargic as a lobotomized house cat. This is why I am a freelance writer and middle-aged student, as opposed to a high caliber tycoon or real estate salesman. It also accounts for my extensive experience with six-dollar bottles of wine and homemade mac and cheese.

I do, however, enjoy hearing about the exploits of my more energetic, prolific and ambitious fellow human beings. What follows is a quick sampling of some of the more striking workaholics of the modern age.

Winston Churchill. Few politicians have ever reached the levels of stamina, ability and sheer energy displayed by Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. Besides being a politician for 65 years, Churchill was a brilliant military strategist, an accomplished painter, and a respected historian. Sir Winston composed his own speeches and wrote voluminous biographical and historical works. Refuting the trite adage that “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” Churchill was a heavy-drinking night owl who frequently worked until the wee hours of the morning. He lived to be ninety years old and kept up a relentless workload until the very end of his life.

Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon was an amazingly prolific writer who would lock himself into a room and not emerge until he had completed a novel, some nine or ten days later. During the course of his career, he wrote some 400 novels. Half of the novels were authored under his own name of Simenon. While the rest were authored under a variety of pen names.

Although Simenon was also rumoured to have had as many as 10,000 lovers, he was a definite piker in this department compared with Genghis Khan. According to the National Geographic website (Mayell, H. (2003), DNA evidence points to the fact that some eight per cent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire may be distantly descended from this fierce 13th century warlord and silver tongued devil.

Completely at the other end of the productivity scale is Franny Crosby, the world’s most prolific writer of hymns. All told, this blind composer wrote some 60,000 hymns under hundreds of pseudonyms. Crosby’s hymns include “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” “Blessed Assurance,” and “On the Banks Beyond the River.”

A whole lot racier and shadier than Ms. Crosby was Aphra Behn. She was a playwright, novelist, notorious lover and reputed spy. Her eighteen full-length plays, including The False Count, The Lucky Chance, and The Rover, titillated and shocked seventeenth century audiences. She is known as the most prolific writer of the restoration period, with the exception of John Dryden.

At this point, I was going to fill you in on the world’s most prolific inventor, painter, dental hygienist, etc., but I notice that it’s nearly two o’clock in the afternoon — time for my midday nap. Perhaps you could look the rest up for yourselves?

Literary Encyclopedia –
Mayell, H. (2003). Genghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data Implies. National Geographic News. Retrieved from
Retirees Prayer Fellowship –
Trussel’s EclectiCity –