Certainly one measure of the popularity of an author is the number of books they sell.
Another measure of their popularity might be how many movies have been made based on
that author’s works. Gene Stratton-Porter rates quite highly in both of these measures. Not
many people know that Mrs. Porter was a best-selling author with many of her books—and
even fewer know that more of her books were made into movies than almost any other female
author—and many male authors also.
The two best-selling authors of fiction in history, William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie,
have had numerous movies made from their many works, both on television and in movie
theaters. Shakespeare’s works have produced over 400 movies and TV movies, and Agatha
Christie (the great British mystery writer) has had at least 35 movies and 60 TV movies made
from her novels and stories. Two other female writers whose numerous stories were translated to film many times are the current American author Danielle Steel, and the Swedish author of the last century Astrid Lingren (creator of Pippi Longstocking). Danielle Steel has written 120 books that have resulted in 25 movies and Astrid Lingren wrote 100 books that resulted in 52 movies (filmed in Sweden and Russia mostly).
Not every author who sells a lot of books have their works made into numerous movies--
but often it is the most prolific writers whose works produce the most movies. After all, there
are more to choose from. Gene Stratton-Porter falls into the more unusual situation where the
author writes relatively few books, yet most are made into movies. Harper Lee wrote only one
book (To Kill a Mockingbird), but it was made into a famous movie. A more modern example
would be J. K. Rowling, whose 7 Harry Potter books were all made into movies. Gene wrote
only 12 novels, yet 8 of these were made into 24 movies. Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost
each were filmed 5 times, The Keeper of the Bees was filmed 4 times, Michael O’Halloran and
Laddie were filmed 3 times each, The Harvester was filmed twice, and Her Father’s Daughter
and The Magic Garden were each filmed once.
Two of the films listed above were made by Gene herself. She was one of the very first
women to start a movie production company. Gene Stratton-Porter Productions released her
filmed version of Michael O’Halloran and A Girl of the Limberlost before her death, during the
silent movie era. But even discounting the two she made herself, it’s obvious that Mrs. Porter’s
small number of novels influenced movie-making in a way that few other authors have been
able to do.