7 Famous Writers Who Died Poor

This week sees the latest instalment in my famous author series.  The series has proven to be extremely popular, especially amongst members of the Google+ community.

Here are 7 famous writers who died poor:


 H. P. Lovecraft 


(August 20th 1890 – March 15th 1937)

H.P. Lovecraft was an American author, who is regarded as one of the most important horror fiction writers of the 20th Century. However Lovecraft achieved very little success during his lifetime and was only ever published in pulp magazines. The author lived frugally for much of his adult life, even going without food so he could afford postage stamps. At the age of 46 he died in poverty in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.


Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

(January 19th 1809 – October 7th 1849)

Poe was an author, poet, editor and literary critic, whose tales of mystery and the macabre are still widely read to this day.  One of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, Poe is also widely considered as being the inventor of the detective fiction genre. Despite his popularity Poe was near penniless at the time of his death. This was probably due to his poor financial acumen and rampant alcoholism.


Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

(October 16th 1854 – November 30th 1900)

Oscar Wilde was a flamboyant writer, poet and playwright, acclaimed for his enduring wit and writing abilities.  At the height of his fame Wilde was a successful playwright.   In 1895 Wilde was arrested for gross indecency with other men.  This culminated in a guilty verdict and large legal fees that forced the writer into bankruptcy. At the age of 46 a near destitute Wilde died of cerebral meningitis in the squalid Hotel d’Alsace in Paris.


Herman Melville 


(August 1st 1819 – September 28th 1891)

Best known for his epic novel Moby Dick, Herman Melville is today regarded as one of the greatest American authors of all time.  Melville’s first book, Typee, quickly became a bestseller, and by his mid-thirties Melville had achieved considerable success.  But this success was short-lived and his career was soon in marked decline, as he found himself beset with financial difficulties. When Melville died in 1891 his works were out of print and he was poor.


 O. Henry


(September 11th 1862 – June 5th 1910)

O. Henry was a renowned and prolific short story writer.  In the 10 years prior to his demise he published over 300 stories.  However when he died in 1910 O. Henry was virtually penniless.  This was no doubt due in part to the alcoholism that afflicted him in later years, as well as his carefree attitude to money, which included on several occasions spending his advances, but not delivering the promised story or script.


Zora Neale Hurston


(January 7th 1891 – January 28th 1960)

Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist and author, who wrote 4 novels and more than 50 short stories, plays and essays. Her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was published in 1937. Although Hurston achieved considerable success she later faded into obscurity, and her later years were marred by financial and medical difficulties, which resulted in her living in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home, where she died of heart disease.


Joseph Roth


(September 2nd 1894 – May 27th 1939)

In his prime Joseph Roth was a renowned and well-paid political journalist, in addition to being a novelist.  Roth’s most famous work, The Radetzky March, is regarded as being one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century. When Hitler rose to power, Roth, a Jew, fled his adopted home of Berlin. His situation deteriorated further due to severe alcoholism, a wife suffering from schizophrenia and a precarious financial situation. In 1939 Roth died a pauper of delirium tremens in Paris.


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