From a column by Geoff Pullum, English and Its Undeserved Good Luck:
Some of the biggest influences on the success of English came from literature, film, and broadcasting. English introduced the world to its most-performed dramatist (Shakespeare); the biggest-selling novelist in history (Agatha Christie, with a billion book sales); the most successful living novelist (J.K. Rowling’s books have sold more than 400 million copies and built a brand worth $15 billion); and most of the most famous fictional characters in human storytelling history (Frankenstein, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Dr. Who, Jason Bourne, Harry Potter, Jack Reacher, [your_favorite_here]).
Is this true? I"m thinking particularly of the last assertion. I have no particular knowledge on these matters. I'm just curious.