As Horace (65-8 BC) observed “No poems can please nor live long which are written by water-drinkers”. So, here we are with a list of some renowned writers who got drowned in alcohol but were raised in success and rich literature. Most of the writers are from the 20th century modern era, but all of them have alcohol and other addictions in common. Here is a list of the 10 most famous alcoholic writers of all time.
10 Most Famous Alcoholic Writers of All Time
Like, many other writers Bukowski had a lifelong romance with alcohol. He never referred to his drinking habit as a problem. Although he talked about how it ruined, he said he was an exception. Later in his life, he admitted that he developed a sense of disgust for bars as he grew older. He wrote about drinking in his short stories, poetry, and novels. In Shakespeare Never Did This, he talks about several unfortunate events he faced due to heavy drinking while he was in Europe. In Ham on Rye, which is a hugely autobiographical novel, he gives us a good look at his early introduction to alcohol and how it became an essential part of his life. He suffered from depression, and self-loathing, and dealt with suicidal thoughts. Bukowski was soft-spoken and had struggled with his confidence. He believes that alcohol provided him with the confidence he required. However, surprisingly he never had any health issues due to alcohol.
Edgar Allan Poe
Often referred to as the pioneer of the detective genre, the writer of The Tell-Tale Heart became an alcoholic most notably after the demise of his wife Virginia. He went on to seek comfort with another love in poet Sarah Helen Whitman. Sarah was ready to take his hand, only if he could leave alcohol. Poe could not and the engagement was broken. Since a psychologist proposed him to be a dipsomaniac. His death in 1849 at the age of 40 remains an enigma. However, the cause is largely believed to be alcohol. Some other conjectures were cholera, tuberculosis, heart disease, and more.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The author of The Great Gatsby became addicted to alcohol at a very early age. His addiction worsened during his stay in Paris. He suffered from anxiety, depression, hypochondria, pulmonary tuberculosis, and sleep disorder. According to his biographers, he was known to use sedatives and barbiturates generously. During the last years of his life in Los Angeles, he developed symptoms of heart failure because of alcoholic cardiomyopathy and abruptly died in 1940. Even Ernest Hemingway has mentioned seeing one of the worst effects of alcohol. The episodes Fitzgerald struggled with could have been syncopal, epileptic, transient ischemic attack, and more.
The author of Dubliners presented the escape and release from the stern morality of the Catholic regime that controlled the norms of Irish culture. Though he was never diagnosed as an alcoholic, throughout his life, he was certainly no stranger to this binge-drinking world. His father was an alcoholic, he was introduced to this addiction very early in his life. He also believed he is incapable of writing without alcohol. Joyce is also alleged to have used booze as a support to deal with adversity.
The poet of “One Perfect Rose”, Dorothy Parker suffered from alcohol addiction and depression. During her later years, she committed to a sanitarium to “dry out.” She told the doctor that she is fond of the room, but she needs to go out every hour for a drink. The doctor warned if she continues this, she will die within 30 days. To which she replied. “Promises, promises.” One of the reasons she sought alcohol is her devastating childhood. She was young when both her parents and stepmom died. Her Uncle Martin Rothschild died in the Titanic incident. One of her best short stories, Big Blonde, provides a lot of autobiographical details of her life and addiction.
Jack Kerouac’s favourite tipple was a margarita, and he was a huge fan of tequila. His popular drinking buddies were Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. The author of On the Road believed during his early years that alcohol brings out the creativity within him which nothing else can. In later life, alcohol addiction became both a cure and cause of severe self-hatred which often lead to aggression. He once said, “I’m Catholic and I can’t commit suicide, but I plan to drink myself to death.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson had a custom of the addictive substance of consumption daily, throughout the day. He used to wake up around 3 pm and start his day with a Chivas Regal whisky. After that, his daily consumptions include cocaine, more whisky, coffee, cigarettes, acid, more cocaine, orange juice, weed, and more cocaine. During the 1960s, the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas made a name for himself in the journalism field. Eventually, he developed his form known as Gonzo Journalism. It all started after Thompson’s father died when he was just 14 years old. His mother Virginia Ray Davison was the sole provider for their family. After her husband’s death, she became the head librarian ad due to the grief became an alcoholic. Both alcohol and literature got passed down from Thompson’s mother.
“Civilization begins with distillation.” – The Sound and the Fury writer William Faulkner used to binge drink where he would lock himself in a hotel and drink for days. While booze was certainly an inspiration for him, it also took a toll on his health and the years of his life. Faulkner was primarily found in whisky, be it a crude jug of corn moonshine or finely aged bourbon. Even though he was unafraid to drink the whiskey straight, Mint Juleps cooled him on hot Mississippi afternoons. He had that recipe reside on a typewritten card, next to his metal julep cup on a shelf in his home at Oxford. The recipe was – whiskey, 1 teaspoon sugar, ice, and mint served in a metal cup.
Truman Capote has a difficult childhood scarred by the divorce of his parents. The author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s drinking habit later in life is said to have had a precedent in the struggle of his mother’s alcohol addiction. He tried to quit drinking, and was often successful for some months, before again falling into a similar addiction. Capote also battled the addiction to tranquilizers, which he started after the release of In Cold Blood. In 1984, at the age of 59, he succumbed to live cancer; phlebitis and multiple drug intoxication were the contributing factors.
If you know Hemingway, you know about his drinking habits. The Old Man and the Sea writer liked to drink so much that Philip Greene wrote To Have and Have Another. This book talks about Ernest Hemingway’s drinking habits. Even though he was fond of drinking, he refrained from having a drink while writing. Mojito was not one of his favourite drinks. As Greene explained, Hemingway “thought globally…drank locally.” His characters often drank what Hemingway himself quaffed in the city he happened to be in while writing. However, his favourite and constant was a dry martini. While recovering from his wounds during World War I, Hemingway would ask his friends to smuggle bottles into the hospital. Yes, just like the protagonist of A Farewell to Arms. Another favourite drink of Hemingway was a Vermouth Panache. In one of his letters to a publisher, he mentioned using tennis ball cans to make dense tubes of ice. He used them to make martinis.
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10 Most Famous Alcoholic Writers of All Time