They killed off their fictional characters in bizarre and mysterious ways, but many of the world’s most famous authors also died under unusual circumstances themselves. Strange disappearances, death by toothpick, a fatal joke: the ways in which the writers on this list left this world could have been lifted from the pages of their own novels. Fittingly, their deaths provide the memorable final chapters to the extraordinary stories of their lives.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Modern audiences will be familiar with Poe’s work through contemporary references, not least in the Netflix series Wednesday. The author of The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher and other chilling tales passed away aged just 40. Poe was discovered in a truly sorry state outside a Baltimore public house on Election Day, October 3, 1849: he died a few days later. It was a strange business indeed.
According to Smithsonian magazine, the eminent author was found confused, clad in second-hand clothes, and not where he was supposed to be at all. Hallucinating and calling out for a mystery figure named “Reynolds,” he died from causes unknown. Did he have a brain tumor? Had he been forced to participate in voter fraud? The plot thickens: vital evidence, such as the all-important death certificate, has apparently vanished.
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Williams was best known for his iconic stage works, such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and A Streetcar Named Desire. Though he struggled with serious issues during his life, his death at 71 appears to have happened through a tragic accident. The author was found asphyxiated with a bottle cap in his throat and was pronounced deceased on February 25, 1983.
As referred to in reports, the cap belonged either to an eye drop or nasal spray bottle. Further investigation revealed that Williams had placed barbiturates in the cap. Using this as a makeshift pill holder, he’d then tipped the whole thing into his mouth. Some speculate that drink played a part, with an empty wine bottle found at the scene. It was both messy and mysterious.