Last week Sylvia Plath turned 79, well she would have if she was still alive. Plath took her own life at the ripe age of 30 by sticking her head into the oven and gassing herself. Authors and suicide go together like peanut butter and jelly. Some of the greatest writers were highly depressed people, who found solace only in taking their own lives. Many of the greats were also severe alcoholics and drug abusers, which is not that far off from killing yourself. Suicidal writers tend to become glamorized posthumously, as if their deaths made them somehow better at their craft than plain-old, alive authors.
But that's not always the case. Some writers have no interest in going to a better place; they are quite happy in the place they are in. They reach the end from natural causes or disease. Then there are those authors whose deaths happen seemingly at random or from bizarre circumstances or even murder. Throughout history there have been some seriously weird ways that great writers have kicked the bucket. Here are our top five oddest author deaths.
5. Alcohol or Rabies Death, We're Not Sure: Edgar Allen Poe There have been numerous speculations on how and why the celebrated author passed on. Some say it was alcohol poisoning, other theories include tuberculosis, epilepsy, diabetes and even rabies has been suggested. What's known is that Poe was found in the vicinity of a bar, completely delirious and possibly in someone else's clothing. He was taken to the hospital and soon after died. While the actual cause of his death is perplexing enough, there are even different accounts of Poe's last few days as he was not allowed any visitors and the one doctor caring for him, changed his own story a few times. Poe scholars can't even decide if Poe really said the dying words that have been ascribed to him.
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4. Most Badass Death: Christopher Marlowe Marlowe wrote in the time of Shakespeare and is credited with writing several famous plays such as Tamburlaine the Great and The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, which made famous the story of Faust who sold his soul to the devil. Because of the time period within which he wrote, there is little factual evidence of the reason for his death, but the cause, allegedly, is a bar fight. Marlowe was something of a rabble rouser and was rumored to be a spy or a heretic and into some shady business. As the story goes, Marlowe and another guy were fighting over a bar tab and it turned into a brawl. Marlowe was apparently stabbed in the eye and died instantly.
3. Really Dumb Death: Thomas Merton Thomas Merton was a Catholic writer and Trappist monk. His most known work was the semi-autobiographical book The Seven Storey Mountain, which was a best seller. In 1968, Merton was in Bangkok, Thailand at a inter-faith religious conference. As it's told, he was taking a bath and reached over to adjust a fan and was electrocuted by an exposed wire. If we've learned anything from our moms, it's that you don't touch electrical equipment whilst bathing. I guess he never heard of that one.
2. Conspiracy KGB Death: Albert Camus Albert Camus, philosopher and author of The Stranger, died in car crash in January of 1960. Seems normal enough, albeit ironic that the man who wrote about the absurdities of existence died from something as simple as a car crash. Not so fast! A recent report from Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, suggests that Camus may have been murdered by the KGB. Camus was a vocal opposer of communism and the Soviet government, and the Soviets were getting ticked off. The Italian paper claims that the KGB sent some henchmen to cut a hole in the tire of the car taking Camus back to France and it caused the vehicle to go careening off the road. If the KGB was involved, it hasn't been proven. You know, the KGB were pretty good at keeping secrets and all.
1. Shaken to Death, Not Stirred: Sherwood Anderson Sherwood Anderson may not be the most famous of writers, but it is said that influenced a lot of famous writers, including J.D. Salinger, Steinbeck and Faulkner. His most celebrated work may have been his collection of short stories entitled Winesburg, Ohio. Anderson's death is certainly a weird one. Evidently, he died while on a cruise by the malicious prick of a toothpick. He swallowed the pointy sliver of wood and it punctured his colon causing a fatal infection. It's theorized that the toothpick had been in his martini. That's the dirtiest martini we can imagine.