This is likely to be the final instalment of my Bizarre Author Deaths series. I have more or less exhausted this fascinating if morbid subject matter, and there will be no further additions until there is a fresh batch of deaths.
Notable works: Winesburg, Ohio & Dark Laughter
The Ohio born Sherwood Anderson is today remembered more for his influence on the following generation of writers than for his own writing efforts. Ignoring the literary devices of his era, Anderson wrote portraits of American life in a precise, simple and unsentimental writing style that others would become more famous for than he.
Though many of his works were published posthumously, Anderson did find fame during his lifetime with his interrelated short story sequence, Winesburg, Ohio, published in 1919, and his bestselling novel, Dark Laughter.
The writer is also remembered for the bizarre nature of his death. In 1941 at the age of sixty-four, Anderson fell ill with abdominal pains on a cruise to South America. He was rushed to hospital in Colón, Panama, where he was diagnosed with peritonitis and died. The autopsy revealed that he had swallowed a toothpick, which had damaged his internal organs, causing the infection. It is widely assumed that this occurred when the author was eating the olive from a martini.
Notable works: La contigiana & La talenta
This Italian author, playwright, poet and satirist was a major influence on both contemporary art and politics, in addition to being regarded as the inventor of modern literate pornography. An unrepentant satirist, Aretino is perhaps best remembered for his humorous and scathing letters, in which he attacked both the authorities and a host of aristocrats. This practice earned the writer fame, numerous enemies and the nickname, flagello dei principi or scourge of princes.
Ironically the humourist purportedly met his demise due to laughing himself to death. There has been much speculation over how this occurred. One version is that he was at a party, when a guest told Aretino a humorous joke, involving the writer’s own sisters (possibly imaginary ones) and the brothel that they were employed at. Rather than taking offense, Aretino found the story so amusing that he was unable to stop laughing, and falling back in his chair, died of suffocation.
Click here to read Part VI