What Have Female Writers Died From? Answer: Everything (X-Posted)

This post was originally published on my new blog, Girl with a Gallery. Drunk Literature will be expiring in 2 weeks, so be sure to update your bookmarks!


Carolina, Eclipse by James Gortnter (via Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery)

Carolina, Eclipse by James Gortnter (via Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery)

The Toast put out a short list of the myriad of ways female characters in some of literature’s most well-known books have met their demise. From cold hands to flirting headaches to “The Unpleasantness,” the instruments of death run the gamut. And it made me think… haven’t female authors had a tough go of it as well?

I started to research some of my favorites, and learned both the devastating and mundane ways in which these beloved writers have met Their End. Happy October, folks, because this post is a morbid one.

Deaths of Female Writers

  • Sylvia Plath: suicide (stuck head in gas oven)
  • Anne Sexton: suicide (by carbon monoxide poisoning – car running in a garage)
  • Elizabeth Bowen: lung cancer
  • Kate Chopin: brain hemorrhage at the World’s Fair
  • Djuna Barnes: old age
  • Zelda Fitzgerald: fire at the sanatorium she was interned in, Zelda was locked in room awaiting electroshock therapy and couldn’t get out
  • Virginia Woolf: suicide (filled pockets with stones and drowned self)
  • Simone de Beauvoir: pneumonia
  • Louisa May Alcott: stroke
  • George Eliot: throat infection/kidney disease (not long after her much-younger husband tried, but failed, to kill himself during their honeymoon)
  • Helene Hanff: diabetes
  • Christine de Pizan: unknown

Each of these women lived fascinating, terrible, celebratory, and complicated lives. In death, they experienced much the same. Memorialize who I’ve left out in the comments!