I am being inspired by George R.R. Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire series which is currently at 24 years (A Game of Thrones was released in 1996) since the publication of the first work in the series and will only grow as the series is not finished and is being constantly delayed by the author.

What series in fiction has the longest time frame between the release of the first work in the series and completion of the series?

Answers should be limited based on the following:

  • Fictional work of literature (i.e. not a film or television series, or novelizations based on the same)
  • Installments written by the same author as the first work
  • Be a completed series
  • Can be different story lines but must be in the same "universe"
  • Must be the same medium as original publication (e.g. Harry Potter was published as novel series, but Fantastic Beasts is a film series)
  • Well, it's not as long as some of the ones mentioned here, but the longest one I was personally aware of was Jean Auel's Earth's Children books - the first one, Clan of the Cave Bear, was released in 1980, and the final book, The Land of Painted Caves was released in 2011, making it 31 years. For a while, it was thought there would be a 7th book, making this series even longer, but it's been clarified that no, Land of the Painted Caves is the last book in the series.
    – user25
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 22:48
  • I enjoyed the short-lived 12 novel series A Dance to the Music of Time, by Anthony Powell, published between 1951 and 1975, a comparative flash in the pan. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 16:20
  • This is late, and not the longest, but the Dune novels span 51 years, from 1965 to 2016.
    – Davo
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 13:06
  • Often read in my youth, and still collected in my 60s, the first Tom Swift book was published in 1910. The most recent book in the series was published in 2016. That's one hundred and six years.
    – Libraryfan
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 18:48
  • Ruth Rendell wrote 24 Inspector Wexford novels over 49 years: the first published in 1964 and the last in 2013, a couple of years before Rendell's death.
    – rlandster
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 20:50

8 Answers 8


Arsène Lupin adventure novels were published between 1905 and 2012, all written by author Maurice Leblanc. The final work was found completed in 2011 by chance and subsequently published years posthumously. For a grand total of 107 years.

Blandings Castle is a group of works in a shared universe by author P.G. Wodehouse, that spans a timeframe of 62 years finishing at the author's death. From 1915-1977.

Earthsea is currently sitting at 50 years with published works starting in 1964 and ending in 2014, with no confirmation that Ursula K. Le Guin is finished with this world.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are probably in the top as a completed series.

First started with Lord Fouls Bane in 1977, and it has finally concluded with The Last Dark in 2013 giving it a total of 36 years.

  • 5
    Earthsea appears to be done now.
    – Mary
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 12:24

Agatha Christie's detective stories about Hercule Poirot were published between 1920 and 1997, for 77 years. Some of the books are novels, some are short story collections. Each of them can be read as a stand-alone story, but they often make references to previous stories, and share at least the main character Hercule Poirot and often other characters, with consistent characterizations. The series was completed in 1975 (55 years after the publication of the first story) by Curtain, which is the last story in the in universe chronology, and shows the end of Poirot's detective carrier. Three books were published much after this posthumously from Christie's notes though.

Agatha Christie also has another long-running series of detective books, about Miss Marple, which were published from 1927 to 1976, so for 49 years.

  • Discworld isn't one main storyline, but it started in 1983 and ended in 2015, so 32 years.

  • The Wheel of Time is one main storyline, clocking in at 23 years (1990 - 2013).

  • The Riftwar Cycle is from 1982 to 2013, at 31 years.

But the king of them all is Xanth, with 39 years and counting!

By Piers Anthony, this series started in 1977 and a book is planned for this year also, in April. That will be year 40.

Shannara is also 39 years, but it doesn't have a new one coming out as far as I know.


If we aren't restricting it to completed series, Larry Niven's Kzinti started in 1966 and were still going as recently as 2012, so 46 years or 51 years depending on whether you're counting 2017.


Isaac Asimov's Robot novels and short stories, the Galactic Empire series and the Foundation series were all established to be in the same universe by Foundation's Edge, Foundation and Earth, Prelude to the Foundation and Forward the Foundation. The first of the I, Robot short stories seems to be Robbie, first published in 1940, and the last of the Foundation novels written by Asimov, Forward the Foundation, was published posthumously in 1993, spanning 53 years.


For a complete series, Alan Garner's Alderly series, consisting of

  1. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960),
  2. The Moon of Gomrath (1963),
  3. Boneland (2012),

was published over a span of 52 years. He has been saying that there was an unwritten third book in the series since shortly after publishing the second (although I expect the third book looks very different from how it would have looked had he written it right after The Moon of Gomrath).

In Garner's own words,

When I set out at three minutes past four on Tuesday the fourth of September 1956 to discover whether or not I could write, I saw the first piece of work as a trilogy, but I didn't know why that was so, nor what shape it would take," said Garner today. "Trilogies are strange creatures. The lack of the third book, I discovered, gave the readers of the first two a sense of urgency. There are nuggets in the text that hint of unfinished business. The links to the book-not-written had become subliminal cliffhangers. Why did it take so long for Boneland to gestate? All I can say is that it took as long as it took.


Another series to consider is the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

  • 1
    The wikipedia page for related works seems to have been removed, shorter overview here.
    – Raidri
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 9:37

The Professor Branestawm books might stretch the definition of a series but were all written by the same author, Norman Hunter, and set in the same universe.

They were published between 1933, when The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm was released, and 1983's Professor Branestawm's Hair-Raising Idea, for a total of 50 years.

After writing the first two books in the 1930's, the author then waited until retirement before picking up the series again in 1970. There is thus a 33 year gap between the second and third books in the series.

The author sadly passed away in 1995.

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