The 40 Most Highly Adapted Authors of the Modern Era

The Definitive picks for the forty most heavily and highly adapted authors of the modern era.  Each wordsmith is judged by the overall quality, impact, and volume of films and television series spawned by their novels and short stories.  It must be noted that we’re not as interested in the significance of the written works themselves but rather the subsequent big and small screen adaptations they inspired.  We’re also not concerned with the relative writing prowess of the authors below; no one’s arguing John Grisham composes better prose than Hemingway.  But better movie catalogue?  We say so.  Finally, no plays, original screenplays, comic books, or religious texts.

  1.  Stephen King (born 1947)  Adapted works: The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Carrie, The Body (became Stand By Me), The Green Mile, It, Misery, The Dead Zone, Cujo, Children of the Corn, The Mist, The Stand, Pet Semitary, Christine, Dolores Claiborne, The Dark Half, Salem’s Lot, The Dark Tower, Apt Pupil, Firestarter, The Running Man, Thinner, Needful Things, Cycle of the Werewolf (became Silver Bullet), Nightmares and Dreamscapes (became TNT miniseries), 11/22/63 (became Hulu miniseries), 1408, Secret Window Secret Garden (became Secret Window), Trucks (became Maximum Overdrive), Hearts in Atlantis, The Lawnmower Man, The Mangler, The Night Flier, Dreamcatcher
  2.  J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)  Adapted works: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (consisting of three volumes including The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King)
  3.  Agatha Christie (1890-1976)  Adapted works: Murder on the Orient Express, Witness For The Prosecution, And Then There Were None, Death on the Nile, ITV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, BBC series Miss Marple, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (became Alibi), The ABC Murders (became The Alphabet Murders)
  4.  Michael Crichton (1942-2008)  Adapted works: Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Sphere, Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, A Case of Need (became The Carey Treatment), The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Rising Sun, Disclosure, Congo, Eaters of the Dead (became The 13th Warrior), Timeline.
  5.  Phillip K. Dick (1928-1982)  Adapted works: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (became Blade Runner), Minority Report, We Can Remember it For You Wholesale (became Total Recall), Adjustment Team (became The Adjustment Bureau), The Man in The High Castle (became Amazon series), A Scanner Darkly, Paycheck, Imposter, Second Variety (became Screamers), Radio Free Albemuth, The Golden Man (became Next)
  6.  Ian Fleming (1908-1964)  Adapted works: Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia with Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy and The Living Daylights (became Octopussy)
  7.  Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)  Adapted works: 3:10 to Yuma, Out of Sight, Rum Punch (became Jackie Brown), Fire in the Hole (became FX series Justified), Get Shorty, Mr. Majestyk, Hombre, The Captives (became The Tall T), 52 Pick-Up, Valdez is Coming, Stick, The Moonshine War, Be Cool, Killshot, Last Stand at Saber River, Cat Chaser, Touch, The Switch (became Life of Crime), Gold Coast, Glitz.
  8.  Roald Dahl (1916-1990)  Adapted works: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, The BFG
  9.  Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)  Adapted works:  The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister (became Marlowe), The High Window (became Time to Kill and The Brasher Doubloon), Poodle Springs
  10.  John Steinbeck (1902-1968)  Adapted works: The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, The Wayward Bus, The Red Pony, The Pearl, Tortilla Flat.
  11.  John Grisham (born 1955)  Adapted works: A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Chamber, Skipping Christmas (became Christmas With The Kranks), A Painted House.
  12.  George R.R. Martin (born 1948)  Adapted works: The Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series that ultimately became the HBO series Game of Thrones.  Includes the novels A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons and the upcoming The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring
  13.  Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)  Adapted works: The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, The Glass Key, The Dain Curse, Red Harvest (became template for Roadhouse Nights), The House on Turk Street (became No Good Deed), City Streets, Woman in the Dark, The Farewell Murder (became Another Thin Man)
  14.  J.K. Rowling (born 1965)  Adapted works: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Goblet of Fire, the Order of the Phoenix, the Half-Blood Prince, and the Deathly Hallows.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Casual Vacancy, Cormoran Strike series (became BBC miniseries Strike)
  15.  Dr. Seuss (1904-1991)  Adapted works: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax
  16.  Tom Clancy (1947-2013)  Adapted works: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears, Jack Ryan TV series
  17.  Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)  Adapted works:  For Whom the Bell Tolls,  The Old Man and The Sea, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, The Killers, Islands in the Stream, To Have and Have Not, The Garden of Eden, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (became The Macomber Affair), The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  18.  John le Carré (born 1931)  Adapted works:  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Call for the Dead (became The Deadly Affair), The Looking Glass War, The Little Drummer Girl, The Russia House, The Tailor of Panama, The Constant Gardener, A Most Wanted Man, Our Kind of Traitor
  19.  Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995)  Adapted works: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt (became Carol), The Blunderer (became A Kind of Murderer and Enough Rope), Ripley’s Game, Ripley Under Ground, The Sweet Sickness, The Glass Cell, Deep Water, The Cry of the Owl, The Two Faces of January
  20.  Dennis Lehane (born 1965)  Adapted works: Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, Live By Night, Animal Rescue (became The Drop)
  21.  Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968)  Adapted works:  It Had to Be Murder (became Rear Window), Waltz into Darkness (became Mississippi Mermaid and Original Sin), The Black Curtain (became Street of Chance), I Married a Dead Man (became Mrs. Winterbourne and No Man of Her Own), Black Alibi (became The Leopard Man), Phantom Lady, The Dormant Account (became The Mark of the Whistler), Deadline at Dawn, The Black Angel, The Black Path of Fear (became The Chase), Cocaine (became Fall Guy), Two Men in a Furnished Room (became The Guilty), Nightmare (became Fear in the Night), All at Once No Alice (became The Return of the Whistler), I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes,  Night Has a Thousand Eyes, The Boy Cried Murder (became The Window and Cloak & Dagger),  Silent as the Grave (became Obsession), And So To Death (became Nightmare), The Bride Wore Black, For the Rest of Her Life (became Martha), Union City
  22.  Cormac McCarthy (born 1933)  Adapted works: No Country for Old Men, The Road, All the Pretty Horses, Child of God
  23.  Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)  Adapted works: Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, HBO anthology series The Ray Bradbury Theatre based on many of his short stories, The Martian Chronicles (became NBC miniseries), In a Season of Calm Weather (became The Picasso Summer), A Sound of Thunder, Zero Hour (became ABC series The Whispers)
  24.  Ira Levin (1929-2007)  Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys from Brazil, A Kiss Before Dying, The Stepford Wives, No Time for Sergeants, Sliver
  25.  James M. Cain (1892-1977)  Adapted works: Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, Baby in the Ice-Box (became She Made Her Bed), Two Can Sing (became Wife Husband and Friend), A Modern Cinderella (became When Tomorrow Comes), Love’s Lovely Counterfeit (became Slightly Scarlet), The Butterfly, The Enchanted Isle (became Girl in the Cadillac)
  26.  Neil Gaiman (born 1960)  Adapted works: Stardust, American Gods (became Starz series), Coraline, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, The Graveyard Book (upcoming film), The Ocean at the End of the Line (upcoming film)
  27.  Richard Matheson (1926-2013)  Adapted works:  I Am Legend, Duel, A Stir of Echoes, The Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Steel (became Real Steel), Bid Time Return (became Somewhere in Time), Button Button (became The Box), The Beardless Warriors (became The Young Warriors), Ride the Nightmare (became Cold Sweat), Someone is Bleeding (became Icy Breasts)
  28.  Robert Ludlum (1927-2001)  Adapted works: The Jason Bourne series including The Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum.  Also Covert One: The Hades Factor, The Osterman Weekend, and The Holcroft Covenant.
  29.  Suzanne Collins (born 1962)  Adapted works: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
  30.  Michael Lewis (born 1960)  Adapted works: Moneyball, The Big Short, The Blind Side
  31.  Tom Perrotta (born 1961) Adapted works: The Leftovers, Election, Little Children
  32.  C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)  Adapted works: The Chronicles of Narnia series including The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of Dawn Treader.
  33.  Philip Roth (born 1933)  Adapted works: The Human Stain, American Pastoral, Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy’s Complaint, The Dying Animal (became Elegy), The Humbling, Indignation, The Ghost Writer
  34.  F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) The Great Gatsby, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Tender is the Night, The Beautiful and the Damned, The Last Tycoon, The Off-Shore Pirate
  35.  Margaret Atwood (born 1939)  Adapted works: The Handmaid’s Tale (became Hulu series), Alias Grace (became Netflix series), Surfacing
  36.  Larry McMurtry (born 1936)  Adapted works:  The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, Horseman Pass By (became Hud), Leaving Cheyenne (became Lovin’ Molly), Texasville, Streets of Laredo, Dead Man’s Walk, Comanche Moon, The Evening Star, Buffalo Girls
  37.  Nicholas Sparks (1965)  Adapted works: The Notebook, Message in a Bottle,  A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodant, Dear John, The Last Song, The Lucky One, Safe Haven, The Best of Me, The Longest Ride, The Choice
  38.  Bret Easton Ellis (born 1964)  Adapted works:  American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction, Less Than Zero, The Informers
  39.  John Irving (born 1942)  Adapted works:  The Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, A Prayer for Owen Meany (became Simon Birch), A Widow for One Year (Became The Door in the Floor)
  40.  James Ellroy (born 1948)  Adapted works: L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia, Blood on the Moon (became Cop), Brown’s Requiem

Honorable Mentions: Pierre Boulle, Alistair MacLean, Stieg Larson, Kurt Vonnegut, James Patterson, Erle Stanley Gardner, Mario Puzo, George Orwell, Nicholas Poleggi, Truman Capote, F Scott Fitzgerald, E.L. Doctorow, B. Traven, Herman Wouk, E.M. Forster, Walter Tevis, Ernest Haycox, Dan Brown, Thomas Harris, Stephenie Meyer, Ben Mezrich, Howard Fast, Alex Haley, Boileau-Narcejac, Mickey Spillane, Hunter S Thompson


Pre-20th Century

  1.  Charles Dickens (1812-1870)  Adapted works: A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, The Pickwick Papers, Little Dorrit, Hard Times, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dombey and Son
  2.  Jane Austen (1775-1817) Adapted works: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Manfield Park, Emma, Northhanger Abbey, Persuasion, Lady Susan
  3.  H.G. Wells (1866-1946)  Adapted works: War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon, The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth, The Wonderful Visit, The Wheels of Chance, The History of Mr. Polly
  4.  Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)  Adapted works: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich (loosely inspired Kurosawa’s Ikiru), The Cossacks, Resurrection, The Kreutzer Sonata, The Forged Coupon (loosely inspired the film L’Argent)
  5.  Mark Twain (1835-1910)  Adapted works: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper, Pudd’nhead Wilson

Honorable Mentions:  Robert Louis Stevenson, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Nathanial Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe

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