An author of infinite erudition who found artistic and moral value in simply registering his dread.
From the 1890s until he died in 1963, Robert Frost wrote down ideas, homemade aphorisms and fragments of poems. As one of his jottings says (God knows in what context), "I reel them off with one brain tied behind me." As you'd expect of a man who fetishized plainness, he used cheap spiral notebooks and flip pads and school composition books.
Jane Austen probably can't compete yet with Shakespeare or Dickens—and certainly not with the Bible—for the greatest number of adaptations, tie-ins, tchotchkes and other epiphenomena.
Evelyn Waugh considered P. G. Wodehouse the greatest comic writer of his time: that would be from 1900, when he sold his first magazine article, to 1974, when his last book came out. (He died a year later, at 93.) And Waugh predicted that his determinedly escapist stories and novels "will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own." Right on both counts.
"The head takes the longest to burn; two little blue flames flicker from the eyeholes ... the entire process lasts twenty minutes—and a human being, a world, has been turned into ashes." A Polish Jew named Zalman Gradowski wrote this account of what actually happened, step by step, in the gas chambers and crematoriums of Auschwitz, where he'd been sent in late 1942, along with seven members of his family, including his wife and mother.