8 Authors Who Committed Suicide

Admittedly this is a rather depressing subject for a blog post, but it is an interesting one. Here are 8 famous authors who committed suicide:

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton

(November 9th 1928 – October 4th 1974)

Anne Sexton was a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet. Themes in her confessional style verse included her mental instability and depression. On October 4th 1974 the 45 year-old poet put on her mother’s old fur coat, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, started the engine of her car and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter Thompson

(July 18th 1937 – February 20th 2005)

The father of Gonzo journalism was an iconic figure in the counter-culture.  Hunter S. Thompson suffered from health problems in later life, culminating in him shooting himself in the head aged 67. His ashes were fired out of a cannon in a ceremony funded by friend and star of the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp.

Click here to read my review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 

Yukio Mishima 

Mishima

(January 14th 1925 – November 25th 1970)

Yukio Mishima is widely considered to be Japan’s greatest ever author. On November 25th 1968 Mishima and 4 members of his private militia 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.

 

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

(July 21st 1899 – July 2nd 1961)

Ernest Hemingway is today remembered as a pillar of American literature. His accolades include winning The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1953) and The Nobel Prize in Literature (1954). In the early morning hours of July 2nd 1961, following a period of deteriorating health and depression, Hemingway shot himself in the head with his favourite shotgun.

Click here to read my review of The Old Man and the Sea

 

John Berryman

John Berryman

(October 25th 1914 – January 7th 1972)

John Berryman was an American poet, scholar, and a key figure in the Confessional school of poetry. The poet was a heavy drinker for much of his life. He also suffered from periods of emotional instability. On January 7th 1972 Berryman met his demise when he plunged to his death from a bridge in Minneapolis.

 

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

(January 25th 1882 – March 28th 1941)

Novelist and critic Virginia Woolf was an influential interwar writer and one of the foremost modernists of the 20th Century. Shortly after finishing the manuscript of her last novel, Between the Acts, Woolf entered a deep depression.  On the 28th March 1941 the author put on her overcoat, filled her pockets with stones and walked out into the River Ouse near her home in Sussex.

 

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa 

Akutagawa

(March 1st 1892 – July 24th 1927)

Akutagawa was a Japanese writer, who is considered to be the father of the Japanese short story. Japan’s premier literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, is named after him. The author suffered from deteriorating physical and mental health, and at the age 35 he committed suicide by taking an overdose of Veronal.

 

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

(October 27th 1932 – February 11th 1963)

Sylvia Plath was well known for her poetry during her short-life. Examples of her early success included winning The Glascock Prize for poetry in 1955. Plath, who had a history of depression, committed suicide in 1963, by poisoning herself with carbon monoxide in her own kitchen. She went on to achieve posthumous fame.

Click here to read my review of The Bell Jar

 

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14 Comments

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  • ‘Is there no way out of the mind’ – Sylvia Plath.

    Liked your review of The Bell Jar by the way. Will be 1 of the books I get with any Amazon/Book Vouchers given to moi at Xmas.

  • A very interesting post. Had not heard of Sexton or Akutagawa. Recently read Between the Acts. Some poignant moments in the light of what happened next.

  • Never knew that Hemingway committed suicide, also never read anything by him, looks like I shall have to make a start in 2015.

    • Hemingway’s suicide was kept a secret at first. ‘The Old Man and The Sea’ is the only Hemingway I’ve read. It was very memorable and I am looking forward to reading more. Have a good weekend Jason. Thank you for the the Amazon reviews.

  • Another interesting post. Suicide is a tragic and fascinating phenomenon. Do creative people have more tendency to suicide? I’m confused as to how Yuko Mishumi could kill himself as described- surely he’d have needed help to disembowel and behead himself.

    • It is my understanding Sue that Mishima did the disemboweling bit on his his own and got an accomplice to do the decapitation part. Only he botched the job and a second accomplice had to behead Mishima.

  • It is amazing that these talented folks had no one around who cared to talk them out of taking their own life. I was surprised by Hunter Thompson. I thought he died of an overdose. Nice Job (as usual)

    • Though Hunter Thompson wasn’t that old his health was in morbid decline, and he decided to take the easy way out. At least that is my understanding of what happened. Mishima had apparently been fantasising about committing seppuku for years, and was just waiting for the perfect moment. I agree with you about the others, especially Plath who had 2 young children and was about to become famous. Have a good weekend John.

  • Honestly, it’s not surprising, considering the poor reviews they all suffered in their life. Entirely understandable. To writers, hostile reviews are akin to bullying. Very sad for what they endured.

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