They say that geniuses are always a little whacked in the head. Literary history tells us that many creative minds have been prone to suicidal thoughts. There have been numerous instances where writers have committed suicide. Call it coincidence or an occupational hazard of creative work, suicide seems to be running in the profession of writing. Not only is suicide a hard core reality, but also a recurrent theme in works of these writers.
These are the 4 most famous writers who committed suicide. There are many more but these 5 are discussed here are by virtue of their bizarreness and violence.
Famous Writers Who Committed Suicide:
1. Ernest Hemingway: He taught people how to live in his short novella, 'The Old Man And The Sea' but he could not master in the art of living himself. Beneath the handsome exterior of an ex-army man, was a deeply troubled man. Ernest Hemingway's tryst with violence in the Spanish Civil War produced the amazing novel 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' but it left him scarred for life. He also has a rare hereditary disease called haemochromatosis that leads to excess iron deposition in the body. This disease may or may not have contributed to the writer's suicide but he killed himself using a shot gun in 1961. The suicidal gene ran in the family; suicide claimed his father, brother and sister too!
2. Virginia Woolf: Her last letter to her husband is as famous as it is heartbreaking. The book (later made into a movie) 'The Hours' gives us a deep insight into this exceptional writer's creative process and also her terrible mental trauma. Virginia Woolf, famous for her novel Mrs. Dalloway and her 'stream of consciousness' narrative technique, committed suicide by drowning herself in the river Ouse with her pockets full of stones. She was suffering from depression and heard imaginary voices at times. Sexually abused by her step brothers is often stated as a possible cause of her mental illness.
3. Edgar Allan Poe: This poet's suicide is a strange one because we will never know what was the exact cause of his death. The fact that he was bitten by a man dog and died of untreated rabies is one of the conspiracy theories. However, Poe had a history of alcoholism and suicide. He had attempted to kill himself several times but finally succumbed to death in 1849. With this writer, suicide and death was an obsession. This obsession transcends his life and can be seen in his works too. Raven, his most famous work is full of destructive images of death and lost love.
4. Sylvia Plath: This American poet has suicide as the main theme of her only novel 'The Bell Jar'. This novel describes her experience at a mental institution in an almost autobiographical tone. She underwent several treatments for clinical depression and finally gassed herself at the age of 30 after being abandoned by her husband (Ted Hughes who was a poet). Her entire life including her literary works was a plot that culminated in her suicide. Her last poem 'The Edge' is like her final suicide note to the world, the last act of a great artist.
It is very difficult to say why writers commit suicide or even get suicidal thoughts. A genial poem by Charles Bukowski titled 'The impossibility of being human', describes all these violent deaths of writers and poets. It is like an apt epitaph to all these troubled souls.