They had fame and glory. But they were cursed with a tortured mind. And creativity claimed the life of the creator. Here are five incredible writers who succumbed to an agonized life:
Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)
She was one of the foremost modernist writers of the twentieth century. Her novels — Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse — are widely regarded as masterpieces. But there was another side to Woolf’s life. She was sexually abused by her cousins, traumatized by World War II, which destroyed her London home and was a victim of depression all her life. On 28 March 1941, she wrote a note to her husband and drowned herself in the river Ouse. Her overcoat was filled with stones.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)
The master of descriptive writing, an idealist in love with the color and sensuality of Spain, a volatile drinker — that’s being Ernest. A mighty Nobel Prize and worldwide fame couldn’t stop Hemingway from committing suicide. One fine morning, he woke up and wore a gown he called “the Emperor’s robe” and shot himself with his favorite shotgun. Hemingway’s father, brother, and sister committed suicide too. It is believed that his family had a history of mental illness.
Robert E. Howard (1906 – 1936)
‘I don’t want to live to be old. I want to die when my time comes, quickly and suddenly, in the full tide of my strength and health.’ And young he died for Howard was just 30 years old when he shot himself in the head. It might have been due to his failed relationship with Novalyne Price, or his financial troubles as the struggling Weird Tales couldn’t pay him, or his feelings for his mother who was about to die. Though Howard was quite successful and his stories were in demand, he suffered from inferiority complex and thought his peers downgraded him. Like Conan, he wasn’t afraid of death and he died, as he had lived, by the sword.
Arthur Koestler (1905 – 1983)
The famous author/journalist who wrote the anti-Soviet classic — Darkness at Noon. Koestler was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and terminal leukaemia. This made writing difficult for him — a fact that depressed him beyond measure. In 1983, Koestler and his wife killed themselves with an overdose of barbiturates (Tuinal), taken with alcohol. Cynthia, his wife, wrote that she “cannot live without Arthur, despite certain inner resources”.
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893 – 1930)
“I’m through with life… and [we] should absolve from mutual hurts, afflictions and spleen.” Mayakovsky was one of the most well known figures of early 20th century Russian Futurism. He was a national hero who sung for the communist regime. Some suggest that a failed affair with actress Veronika Polonskaya left the poet devastated. Others believe that it might be disillusionment with the Soviet regime of the time. Mayakovsky shot himself when he was only 37. The cause of his suicide still remains mysterious.