ultimate list of famous ghostwriters

Famous Ghostwriters Who Have Shaped the Literary World and Beyond

Ghostwriting means writing or book editing on behalf of someone else, understanding the work will be attributed to the client as the original author. Despite the controversy surrounding ghostwriting, it remains a popular practice in the publishing industry. In fact, many celebrities and public figures hire ghostwriters to help them write their memoirs or autobiographies. While the use of ghostwriters may raise ethical questions, it is important to recognize that some of the famous ghostwriters play a valuable role in helping authors bring their stories to life.

This article will explore what ghostwriting is, which famous writers and celebrities use this approach, and why it is a popular option to publish things.

Best Ghost Writers in the History of Book Publishing

You can run across books or other pieces of writing you are familiar with. Yet, you may not know that the real writer is hidden under the names you hear. We’ve collected top ghostwriters who are also known for their ghost works.

1.   Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter, one of the most important American writers of the 20th century, started her career as a journalist and a ghostwriter. She was hired to write articles, reviews, and speeches for different clients, but her most significant work was an autobiography of a Texas Oilman. Although Porter’s name is not officially associated with the book, many scholars believe that she was the real author of the work, as it strongly resembles her style and themes.

2.   Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan, the Australian novelist, journalist, and screenwriter, has had a diverse writing career, including work as a famous ghostwriter. In the early 2000s, Flanagan agreed to help a prominent Australian businessman who wanted to write a memoir about his experiences in the corporate world. Flanagan was hired to help the businessman write and structure the book, published to critical acclaim. Although Flanagan’s role as a ghostwriter was not officially acknowledged, it demonstrated his versatility and ability to write in various styles and genres.

3.   Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, French novelist, performer, and journalist, was also considered the best ghostwriter. In the early 1900s, Colette was hired by her first husband, Henry Gauthier-Villars, to write a series of popular novels under his name. These novels, which featured a semi-autobiographical character named “Willy,” were incredibly successful and helped to establish Gauthier-Villars as a leading figure in the French literary scene. However, it wasn’t until after their divorce that Colette revealed the true extent of her involvement in creating these novels. She went on to establish herself as one of France’s most important and influential writers in her own right.

4.   Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster, the American science fiction and fantasy author, is known for being one of the most famous ghost writers. Foster has been hired to provide fiction ghostwriting services of popular films such as “Star Wars,” “Alien,” and “The Chronicles of Riddick,” among others. While the novels are officially credited to the film’s creators, Foster is widely recognized as the true author of these works. One interesting fact about Foster is that he authorized the first-ever “Star Wars” spin-off novel, “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye,” published in 1978.

5.   Mark Twain

That is right: even Mark Twain used to ghostwrite. In the 1860s, Twain was hired by a San Francisco newspaper to write a series of humorous sketches under a pen name. These sketches were wildly popular and helped to establish Twain as a leading literary figure of his time. Although his work as a ghostwriter was not officially acknowledged, it demonstrated his talent for writing in various styles and his ability to capture the spirit of his audience.

6.   Peter Lerangis

Peter Lerangis is a prolific American author who has made a name for himself as a writer of young adult and children’s literature. One of his notable works is the ghostwriting of the book series, The Baby-Sitters Club.

The Baby-Sitters Club was a popular book series written by Ann M. Martin in the 1980s and 1990s. Peter Lerangis was brought in as a ghostwriter for the series in the early 1990s. As a ghostwriter, Lerangis was tasked with writing new books in the series under Martin’s name. This meant that Lerangis had to study Martin’s writing style and voice in order to write in a way that was consistent with the existing books.

Despite the challenge, Lerangis proved to be a skilled ghostwriter, penning several successful books in the series. His contributions to the series include books such as “Mary Anne and the Haunted Bookstore,” “Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost,” and “Jessi’s Secret Language.

7.   Robert Lindsay

Robert Lindsay is a well-known writer and ghostwriter who has made significant contributions to literature and the entertainment industry. Among his many achievements, Lindsay has ghostwritten for two iconic figures in American history: Marlon Brando and Ronald Reagan.

In the 1990s, Lindsay was approached by Marlon Brando to help him write his memoir, which was eventually titled “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” Brando was known for his legendary acting career, but he was also an avid reader and writer. He recognized Lindsay’s talent as a writer and sought his help to tell his life story. Lindsay spent countless hours interviewing Brando, researching his life, and crafting the book. The result was a moving and introspective memoir that shed light on Brando’s life and his experiences in Hollywood.

Lindsay’s work with Ronald Reagan was also significant. In the 1980s, Reagan hired Lindsay to help him write his autobiography, “An American Life.” The book became a bestseller and provided readers with an intimate look at Reagan’s life, from his humble beginnings in Illinois to his rise to the presidency.

In addition to his work with Brando and Reagan, Lindsay has ghostwritten for numerous other public figures, including politicians, business leaders, and celebrities. His writing has touched the lives of countless readers, and his contributions to the literary world are significant and enduring.

Celebrities Who Use Ghostwriters’ Help 

1.   Hillary Clinton.

Clinton used memoir writers for hire for her piece “Living History,” which detailed her life from childhood to her years as First Lady of the United States.

2.   Beyoncé.

The pop icon has used ghostwriters for many of her hit songs, including “Single Ladies” and “Drunk in Love.” While she is known to collaborate with other writers, she is still credited as the primary songwriter on all of her songs.

3.   Jay-Z.

He is one of the authors who have used ghostwriters for several of his hit songs, including “Empire State of Mind” and “Run This Town.”

4.   The Kardashians.

Every Kardashian family member has used business ghostwriters for social media posts and other content. While they have denied these allegations, their use of ghostwriters has contributed to their massive success and influence.

5.   Stephen King.

Stephen King is an example of a famous author who uses ghostwriters. While he has been criticized for this, he has also been praised for his willingness to collaborate with other writers and his dedication to his craft.

Why Famous People Need Ghostwriters?

Lack of time

Many celebrities lead busy lives with demanding schedules that leave little time for writing or to proofread a book. Celebrity ghost writers help publish books, articles, and other written content without sacrificing their other commitments.

To ensure the work quality

While many famous people are talented in their respective fields, they may have different levels of expertise when it comes to writing. A ghostwriter can help them to articulate their ideas more effectively and craft a more polished final product.

Privacy reasons

They can maintain greater control over their public image and keep certain aspects of their lives private. It is especially important for public figures who the media and the public may constantly scrutinize.

Wrapping Up

Ghostwriting has been used by famous writers, authors, and public figures throughout history to share their stories and ideas with the world. While some may view the practice as deceitful or disingenuous, it is a common and accepted practice in the publishing industry. For many celebrities, ghostwriters are essential in helping them navigate their busy schedules and craft high-quality written content.

As long as such writing is done ethically and transparently, it can be a valuable tool for authors and public figures, helping them share their unique perspectives and experiences with the world. Check out our service to learn more about the best ghostwriters or get our diverse ghostwriting services, including, but not limited to ebook editing.


What famous authors use ghostwriters?

Many famous authors have used ghostwriters, including Alexandre Dumas, Ian Fleming, Stephen Covey, Donald Trump, Howard Schultz, Jack Welch, Richard Branson, and Sam Walton, to name a few. These authors have turned to ghostwriters to assist them with various aspects of their writing, such as research, editing, and technical writing.

Do famous authors use ghostwriters? 

Yes, famous authors have been known to use ghostwriters. While some authors are transparent about their use of ghostwriters, others may not acknowledge their contribution publicly. Ghostwriting can enable authors to focus on their ideas and vision while leaving the technical aspects of writing and research to a professional. As a result, ghostwritten books have become iconic pieces of literature that have inspired and entertained readers around the world.

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