Bizarre Author Deaths IX

I have stated on several occasions that there would be no further instalments to the Bizarre Author Deaths series. However, it has since come to my attention that I have omitted two authors. Here they are.


Petronius Circa 27 AD – 66 AD

Notable works: Satyricon.

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a Roman courtier during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Petronius belonged to a group of pleasure seekers whom Seneca described as ‘men who turn night into day’. He also held a number of official positions, including governor of the province of Asia, as well as serving on The Consul, the highest position in Rome. Petronius is widely accepted to be the author of the satirical novel Satyricon, a scathing satire, which ridiculed the pretensions of Rome’s newly rich. Satyricon went beyond the literary limitations of its day by concentrating less on plot than character and by portraying detailed speech and behaviour.

Petronius’s high position purportedly made him an object of envy. In 66 AD, Tigellinus, the commander of the Emperor’s guard, accused him of plotting to kill the Emperor Nero. Petronius was arrested. Instead of waiting for his sentence, the author decided on the slow process of committing suicide by having his veins opened and then bound up again. The bandages were bandaged to prolong life, so that Petronius could spend the last hours as of his life conversing with friends, dealing with his slaves and enjoying a sumptuous banquet, after which he went to bed to die in his sleep. Tacitus wrote of the author’s demise, ‘so that his death, though forced upon him, should seem natural.’


Yukio Mishima


January 14th 1925 – November 25th 1970

Notable works: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea, Spring Snow.

Yukio Mishima was the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka – a novelist, playwright, poet, short story writer, essayist and critic. His literary output included thirty four novels, twenty five books of short stories and fifty plays. Considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the Twentieth century, Mishima was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mishima’s writing was a fusion of modern and traditional aesthetics that focused on subjects such as death, sexuality and politics. Many of his most famous works were translated into English, resulting in the iconic author becoming popular in both Europe and America.

Mishima was a nationalist with a commitment to the code of the Samurai (bushido). In 1968 he formed Tatenokai or ‘shield society’, a private militia sworn to protect the Emperor of Japan. On November 25th the author and four members of Tatenokai barricaded themselves in the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan’s self-defence forces. Having delivered a speech from the balcony to the soldiers below, Mishima committed Seppuku, a Japanese ritual suicide consisting of disembowelment followed by beheading.

Tatenokai member, Masakatsu Morita, who was acting as Mishima’s accomplice, failed in his decapitation duties, resulting in another member severing the author’s head. According to Mishima’s biographer and translator John Nathan the author was using the coup as a pretext for the ritual suicide he had long dreamed of.

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7 thoughts on “Bizarre Author Deaths IX

  1. Ooh, these two are very gruesome deaths Guy. I expect we all have down days with our writing but at least it’s a comfort to know that we don’t have to suffer what these guys went through.

    • They are indeed rather gruesome deaths Diane. I can appreciate the glory associated with a ritual suicide, but not sure it’s for me.

  2. I think if I’m going to go the route of Mishima I will invest a little time in the decapitation training of my second. That must have been a mess.

    • Suffering a botched decapitation was a rather ignominious end for such an iconic author. A DIY guillotine could work well.

  3. bonobolover

    It seems like a lot of authors commit suicide, but these two are certainly noteworthy examples. Hemingway or Thompson’s shotgun to the head seems relatively tame in comparison.

    • They sure do seem relatively tame in comparison though just as messy.

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