You're catching on there, lad! In terms of breadth of material (i.e., variety of subject matter) I'd have to pop for George Orwell. All the way from following 'The Road To Wigan Pier' to '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Orwell kept you guessing,
'What comes next?'
For epic proportions Thomas Hardy took in the plight of the common man - at least in 'Wessex' - with the use of plain, straightforward prose, unlike Dickens who ties the reader in Civil Service English knots. I've never got on with him, (and we had to do 'Pickwick Papers' for our Eng. Lit. General Certificate of Education 'Ordinary' Level or GCE 'O'-Level back in 1964 - that's right, the place was crawling with Stegosauri, and we'd just been caught napping by the Boers and Zulus, not to mention Kaiser Bill) and I'd have PAID them to do something I could understand properly!
Coming more up-to-date, another name to conjure with - NOT Paul Daniels - I would say has to be (ex-RN Commander) Nicholas Montserrat for his gripping stories of Atlantic convoys and other navy stories, the most famous being 'The Cruel Sea', made into a film starring Jack Hawkins.