Famous literature: Words by numbers

The world of literature consists of a vast range of works, from tiny haikus to epic poems, from brief novellas to long-running series.

But which writer’s work has the most words? Which poet’s masterpiece is the most concise? Which playwright’s production lasts the longest?

Here are the numbers behind the greatest works of literature throughout history, from Shakespeare and Milton to J K Rowling and George R R Martin.

Epic novels

These are works of fiction longer than 110,000 words, although many of the most popular epics surpass this word limit by a great deal.

Epic novels - famous literature book word count

Famous series

Fictional series have grown in popularity over recent years and now dominate lists of most-read novels around the world. Some of these are classes as epic novels, due to their immense word count, whereas those between 50,00 and 110,000 words are classed as novels.

Featured series: A Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones (George R R Martin), Harry Potter (J K Rowling), Lord of the Rings (J R R Tolkien)

Famous series - famous literature book word count


The novella is a short novel of between 20,000 and 50,000 words, and was the form of choice for many popular works throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Also: 30 minute library /  Epic poems / Haiku poetry

Novellas - famous literature book word count

Author focus & literary shockers

Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen

Author focus and literary shockers - infographic famous literature book word count

Infographic via

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