99 Writers Who Were Alcoholics, Drunks, Addicted To Booze, Etc.

Here are ninety-nine writers who liked to throw a few drinks back, if you know what I mean; often with disastrous results, if you know what I mean…
  1. F. Scott Fitzgerald*
  2. Ernest Hemingway*
  3. Dorothy Parker
  4. Jean Rhys
  5. Jean Stafford
  6. Aeschylus*
  7. Charles Bukowski
  8. Norman Mailer
  9. Stephen King*
  10. Lord Byron
  11. Anne Sexton*
  12. Percy Shelley
  13. Graham Greene
  14. Samuel Coleridge*
  15. William Faulkner
  16. J.D. Salinger
  17. Edgar Allen Poe*
  18. Samuel Johnson
  19. Raymond Carver
  20. David Foster Wallace
  21. Mary Karr
  22. Zelda Fitzgerald
  23. Malcolm Lowry*
  24. Dylan Thomas*
  25. Elizabeth Wurtzel
  26. Robert Benchley
  27. John Cheever
  28. Tennessee Williams
  29. William Butler Yeats
  30. Li Po*
  31. Shirley Jackson
  32. Edward Albee
  33. O. Henry
  34. James Joyce
  35. Frederick Exley
  36. Harry Crews
  37. Oscar Wilde
  38. Grace Metalious
  39. Julie Powell
  40. Alan Watts
  41. James Frey*
  42. Lester Bangs
  43. Patrick Hamilton
  44. Tom Lux
  45. Martin Amis*
  46. L. Ron Hubbard*
  47. Christopher Hitchens
  48. Hunter S. Thompson
  49. James Thurber
  50. Raymond Chandler
  51. Patricia Highsmith
  52. Kingsley Amis
  53. Philip Larkin
  54. Truman Capote
  55. Carson McCullers
  56. Philip K. Dick
  57. Oliver Goldsmith
  58. Christopher Marlowe*
  59. Jacqueline Susann
  60. Flann O’Brian
  61. Edna St. Vincent Millay*
  62. Maeve Brennan*
  63. William S. Burroughs*
  64. Robert Lowell
  65. Adela Rogers St. John
  66. William Golding
  67. Jack London
  68. Stephen Crane
  69. Evelyn Waugh
  70. Hart Crane*
  71. Sylvia Plath
  72. Delmore Schwartz
  73. Herman Melville
  74. Djuana Barnes
  75. Theodore Roethke
  76. Thomas De Quincy
  77. Pete Hamill
  78. David Carr
  79. Caroline Knapp
  80. Augusten Burroughs
  81. Allen Tate
  82. Richard Yates
  83. Sinclair Lewis*
  84. Sherwood Anderson
  85. Eugene O’Neill
  86. John O’Hara
  87. Ring Launder
  88. Benjamin Franklin
  89. Charles Cros
  90. Koren Zailackas
  91. Caroline Gordon
  92. Conrad Aiken
  93. John Berryman*
  94. Edmund Wilson
  95. Joaquin Miller
  96. Rabelais*
  97. Rimbaud
  98. Verlaine
  99. Baudelaire…*


*…This whole long list kinda makes you think, don’t it? …Anyway, Fitzgerald drank himself to death at around age forty. At his funeral, his friend (and fellow alcoholic) Dorothy Parker showed up and said “The poor son of a bitch” over his grave; the same words said over Gatsby’s grave in The Great Gatsby.

*This is obviously only a (very) partial list. There are many more alcoholic writers, duh, but I ran out of time to do research. …So, back to trivia! Hemingway’s favorite drink was a daiquiri, which is surprisingly wussy for a “man’s man”  like Hem. But daiquiris were a new drink at the time, just introduced from exotic Cuba. So it’s sort of the equivalent of him liking the trendy chocolate martini o’ the month, or something. He died by shooting himself, after first trying to kill himself by walking into the propeller of a plane. Alcohol; good times!

*Aeschylus has the honor of being the first recorded alcoholic writer in history, circa 525 B.C. He wrote the following: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

*Stephen King was also a hu-uuuuge drug addict. He has said he doesn’t remember writing ‘The Shining’ because he was on so much coke at the time.

*Anne Sexton also committed incest with her own daughter. Um, yuck!

*Coleridge: also an opium addict, which is how ‘Kubla Khan‘ got written.

*Poe was discovered on the streets of Baltimore, drunk, disheveled, starving, freezing, and wearing clothes that were not his own. “He could not explain how he came to be in such a condition.” He died several days later.

*Malcolm Lowry was apparently one of the worst alcoholics in the history of ever, according to his friends; doing things like drinking toxic shaving lotion and such. He died during a drunken fall down an elevator shaft (I think?). I may have gotten that wrong; at a certain point, I didn’t want to spoil this with too much research.

*Dylan Thomas actually died from being given the wrong medicine in a hospital, but he was such an alcoholic that everyone just assumed he had died from booze. …That same night, he had “attempted to break the world record for the number of whiskies drunk in Manhattan.” Seriously.

*The poet Li Po supposedly died while drunkenly leaning over a boat in the moonlight to stare at his reflection in the water; and then drowning, obviously — but this is almost certainly, almost definitely apocryphal.

*James Frey’s ‘A Million Little Pieces’ is one of the worst books ever written! And not just because it’s fake; mostly because he’s such an incredibly terrible writer.

*Martin and Kingsley Amis are our only father/son pair on this list. (Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are the only husband/wife pair.) They are also one of the only father/son pairs of novelists in history. It’s very rare. Dumas fils and Dumas père are the only others that come to mind.

*L. Ron Hubbard: liar, tax cheat, drug addict, founder of Scientology, and alumni of my undergraduate college (George Washington University). Whooo! Great.

*Marlowe was stabbed in the eye while drinking in a tavern. His last words– well, word — was “Christ!” and he then died instantly. He is the only writer who Shakespeare ever quoted, which is pretty damn good.

*Edna St. Vincent died from a drunken fall down her own staircase. She was also pretty hot, if you’re into that sort of thing with your female poets. Not that good an actual poet, though.

*Maeve Brennan was a part-time model, and even hotter than Millay. Also she was an incredible writer. She was such a drunk by the end that she was reduced to sleeping in the bathroom of The New Yorker, where she had once worked.

*William S. Burroughs accidentally shot and killed his wife while playing a drunken game of “William Tell” — i.e., shooting an object off the top of her head with a revolver. His wife may have wanted to be shot, though. The whole story is kind of confusing.

*Hart Crane is of no relation to Stephen Crane. He died at a ridiculously young age, jumping off a ferry in New York and drowning. He could apparently only write when drunk.

*I don’t know much about Sinclair Lewis, except that my very minor research revealed that he was also an incredibly awful alcoholic, similar to Malcolm Lowry, doing bizarre things like drinking hair tonic or anything whatsoever that contained alcohol.

*John Berryman killed himself by jumping off a bridge. The only witness was a carpenter named Art Hitman (of all things). According to Hitman: “He just leaned right over, and dropped right off [the bridge]. He never paused or looked back for a single second.” I have no idea why I know these facts.

*All of Rabelais’s writing is basically about getting drunk.

*Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, I get them mixed up from time to time. Most or all of them were “into” absinthe, the “green devil,” which also of course contains a small amount of poison. Anyway; enough trivia! The end! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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