Top 10 Known Writers Who Died Young

Even though these writers died too young, it cannot be ignored that they were great in their field. They all died before their 40th birthday and left behind a remarkable legacy.


1. Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane was multi-talented and tried his hand at writing short-stories, novels and poetry. He wrote books like The Red Badge of Courage and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Crane dropped out of college and did odd jobs in order to support his literary career. He died at age 29.


2. Anne Brontë

This author wrote Agnes Grey and her siblings were Charlotte and Emily Bronte. She worked with her sisters briefly and took up different jobs from 1839 through 1845. Anne contracted tuberculosis in 1848 and died at age 29.


3. Denton Welch

Denton Welch was both a novelist and a painter who wrote In Youth Is Pleasure and Maiden Voyage in 1944 an 1943 respectively. He was seriously injured in 1935 after which he found it difficult to function normally. However, he continued writing and painting till he died at age 33.


4. Raymond Radiguet

Raymond Radiguet was a poet and novelist who wrote an extraordinary book called Le Diable au corps at 17. He became Jean Cocteau’s protégé soon after. Unfortunately, the young boy got addicted to alcohol and died of typhoid at age 20.


5. John Kennedy Toole

Toole is remembered for A Confederacy of Dunces which remained unpublished while he was alive. After he committed suicide, his mother took the manuscript to Walker Percy who sent it to a publishing house almost instantly. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981- 12 years after his death.


6. Thomas Chatterton

Chatterton revived the “Gothic” style of writing and was the youngest at the time to do so. He had a hard childhood but soon realized his love for writing and engrossed himself in his intellect. He refused to eat after a particular point in his life and died in 1770 at age 17.


7. Alain-Fournier

Alain Fournier wrote Le Grand Meaulnes in 1913 which went on to become a modern classic. This was the only book he could manage to complete and it is laced with nostalgia that has an otherworldly quality to it. The plot is set against a rural background and makes it clear that the writer longed to live in a different kind of world. He died at age 27.


8. Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath is remembered for her extraordinary poetry which was laced with dark elements such as self-destruction, alienation and death. She won a number of contests and her poems were published in several magazines. Even though Plath was extremely successful, she was relentlessly depressed and killed herself by sticking her head in an oven at age 30.

9. Emily Brontë

Emily Bronte is known for her single novel Wuthering Heights which was published in 1847. She was definitely the most talented in the family even though her life is quite mysterious. Her existence was spiritual in nature and she preferred to stay by herself almost all the time. She died when she was 30 years old of tuberculosis.


10. Arthur Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud had won a number of prizes by the time he turned 15. He became involved with a married woman at a very young age and the two abused drugs together. This brilliant writer stopped writing at 21 and moved to Africa soon after. He died at 37 after his knees gave out.

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3 Responses

  1. MartinR

    Er, excuse me, what about:
    – Georg Büchner? (d. 1837, age 23),
    – Georg Heym? (d. 1912, age 24).

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