Category Archives: Suicide

How Writers Die

In this Guardian interview with novelist Nora Roberts, she states that:

I’m told that Robert B Parker, one of my favourite authors, died at his computer. Bob – that’s just the way to go,” she says. “He was a workhorse. I’m the same.”

Dying on the job is a good way to go if you accept that someone was doing what they loved. Some of you will have heard of the recent sad and noble death of folk singer-songwriter David Olney

From Wikipedia: Olney died of an apparent heart attack during a performance onstage at the 30A Songwriter Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, on January 18, 2020, at age 71. He was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes, according to fellow musician Scott Miller who was accompanying Olney. “David was playing a song when he paused, said ‘I’m sorry’ and put his chin to his chest. He never dropped his guitar or fell off his stool. It was as easy and gentle as he was,” Miller said.

One of my Wild West heroes, Bat Masterson, died at his typewriter; he had a remarkable life.

Those who died by their own hand, include:


Ernest Hemingway

Richard Brautigan

Kurt Cobain

Hunter S. Thompson


Yukio Mishima,

Elliott Smith


David Foster Wallace,

Roy Buchanan


Abbie Hoffman

Sara Teasdale

Jane Aiken Hodge

Jerzy Kosiński

Arthur Koestler,_1976%E2%80%931983


Primo Levi,

John Berryman


Virginia Woolf,

Hart Crane

Spalding Grey


Sylvia Plath,

John Kennedy Toole,

Anne Sexton

Some writers died in unexpected accidents:



Jeff Buckley

Road Traffic Accident:

Jerry Rubin,

Albert Camus

Harry Chapin

Roland Barthes

Margaret Mitchell

T.E. Lawrence


Zelda Fitzgerald


Tennessee Williams

Or, by murder:

Joe Orton #

Christopher Marlowe #

Joy Adamson #

Jim Koethe

Philip Marshall

Or, by natural causes:

Heart Attack: Stieg Larsson

Tuberculosis:  Anne Brontë

Emily Brontë

Bone Cancer: Arthur Rimbaud

Lymphoma: Michael Crichton

Oral Cancer: Dr Seuss

Just as cynics say “Great career move” when a fading musician dies unexpectedly, leading to a massive boost in the sales of their albums, so it takes having The Grim Reaper as your literary agent for some writers to get anywhere.

I’ve mentioned the sad tale of John Kennedy Toole in previous threads, and it would have been fascinating to know what else he would have created. At least he hasn’t been turned into a franchise operation with hired gun authors brought in to continue the series, as happened with Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and the long-established James Bond and Sherlock Holmes stories.

Writing this post has placed a chill in my heart. I’ve been close to death a few times, but am glad to have survived.

We writers should take care of our mental and physical health.

Given the choice of how to shuffle off my mortal coil, I favour Roger McGough’s ideas.

How about you?

No one wants to die editing their manuscript or reading another rejection email!

Let Me Die A Youngman’s Death

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death