As a later twentieth-century novelist,
broke records for popularity. On some tallies her number of novels passes one hundred, in addition to children's books and volumes of autobiography. Fiction and autobiography often overlap in her work: her plots and characters frequently draw on her own or her mother's experience of deprivation, illegitimacy, violence, rejection, and the struggle to survive financially and emotionally. When
died she had completed 104 works, nine of them still unpublished.