The wonderful world of literature also mirrors the equally intriguing lives of the writers whose rich imaginations birthed the stories that we now call the literary classics of today.
From the likes of Ernest Hemmingway to Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, the magical world of literature have the lives of these writers to thank and celebrate.
However, it can also be said that a lot of these literary giants led tumultuous and turbulent lives which ended in tragedy. Some of them were claimed by illness, some of them battled with mental conditions throughout their young and promising lives, while some readily took their own life when everything has been said and done.
The top 10 list today will discuss 10 very talented and amazing writers who died before they even turned 40.
10. Stephen Crane
Crane, born in 1871, was considered as one of America’s most promising writers. He was a poet, short story writer, and novelist. He lived only 29 years, but he was considered as one of the most prolific writers of his generation. His works were mostly in the realist style. However, he also made some works which ushered in the advent of American Impressionism and Naturalism. He died of a pulmonary hemorrhage, just days short of his 29th birthday.
9. Nathanael West
Born Nathan Weinstein, he was known to be a very good author and screenwriter. His career thrived in satire – as he was known to be an excellent satirist in literary circles. Educated at Brown University and Jewish, his satirical works often poked fun at the shallowness of Hollywood. He died in a car crash before he got to the funeral of his good friend and colleague, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
8. John Kennedy Toole
A popular American novelist whose career paralleled 60’s America, he is best known for 2 works – The Neon Bible, which was an attack on fundamentalist Calvinist religions in the south of the United States, and A Confederacy of Dunces, a picaresque novel which won for him the Pulitzer Prize for fiction-writing. He committed suicide at the age of 31.
7. Jack Kerouac
He is known for his method of spontaneous prose and for being a literary iconoclast. Always a very controversial figure throughout his lifetime, he wrote literature about controversial topics such as the Catholic faith, promiscuity, drugs, Buddhism, and poverty. Literary critics did not always agree with his opinions, but all were in agreement that he was a masterful writer. He died of internal bleeding brought about by his alcoholism.
6. Alain Fournier
More prominently known under this pseudonym, his real name was Henri Alain Fournier in real life. He only wrote one novel in his lifetime – Le Grand Meaulnes, which depicted a young man’s search for love in an apathetic society. It is now considered as a canonical work in French literature. He died in battle during World War I.
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5. Emily Bronte
Bronte was only able to publish one novel throughout her short, short life. But that novel turned out to be a classic in British literature. The novel, Wuthering Heights, depicts the tragic tale of two lovers and has been remade in various languages and locales. Bronte died at 30 years old from tuberculosis.
4. Arthur Rimbaud
Rimbaud was a celebrated French writer and polymath. Beginning to write at a very young age, his poems marked themes and styles that are still admired and revered by contemporary poets. Finishing all these works at the young age of 21, he joined the army in the Netherlands. Known to be a restless soul, he died of cancer at the age of 37.
3. John Keats
Keats is known as the foremost romantic poet of England. A prolific poet admired by both his contemporaries and readers, his work continues to inspire many readers even up to this day. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
2. Sylvia Plath
Plath led a turbulent life despite of her many writing talents. She was an excellent short-story writer, a prolific poet, and an accomplished novelist. Her achievements were cut short when she decided to end her life at the age of 30.
1. Anne Frank
Frank is perhaps the most widely read teenager in literary history. Her diary which depicted the two years that they were in hiding as a Jewish family in Nazi-occupied Poland, is the world’s best-selling diary to this day, letting the reader into the life of a young girl whose life was tragically cut short when she died of typhus in a concentration camp in Germany.