Writers Who Never Knew



Emma Lazarus’s poem, The New Colossus, written in 1883 to raise money for the building of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, died when she was 38 of Hodgkins Lymphoma, never knowing her beautiful words would be immortalized on Liberty’s base.


F. Scott Fitzgerald, dying of a heart attack at the age of 44, never knew his book, The Great Gatsby, would be considered one of the greatest novels of all time.


Stephen Crane, who gave us The Red Badge of Courage about the American Civil War, died in at 29 of tuberculous.

( 1775-1817)

Jane Austen dying at 41, possibly also of tuberculous, died unaware of her long lasting legacy thought of as the most brilliant female novelist to have ever graced a page.


John Kennedy Toole, just 31, took his life before his manuscript, The Confederacy of Dunces (Bill Hicks’s favorite book), went into print in 1981, earning the Pulitzer Prize that year for Fiction.


Michael Sharra winning the Pulitzer in 1975 for his historical novel, The Killer Angels, about The Battle of Gettysburg, never knew his manuscript, For Love of the Game, found in his desk drawer after dying of a heart attack at 59, would become such a best seller.


Poet John Keats left us at 25, another gentle great felled by tuberculous.


Poet, Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), and novelist, Emily Bronte (1818-1848), both died at 30, Bronte of tuberculous, Plath by her own hand linked in literature forever, unaware of their everlasting influence.


I’ll end with Anthony Bourdain, alas, calling it quits at 61, but unlike his predecessors, did know how great we thought he was.

A writer who knew.




About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in alcohol, Books, creative writing, Culture, Health, History, humanity, inspiration, New York City, words, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Writers Who Never Knew

  1. robprice59 says:

    Tuberculosis has a lot to answer for. Add Orwell, Kafka, Chekhov and Moliere. There’s probably more. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a stunning list!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    How sad to never know that your blood, sweat, and tears were recognized and appreciated. That seems so tragic.
    Thanks for this another great compilation, Susannah.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dale says:

    Love your new header, Susannah!
    And I always love these tidbits. So many died so young before knowing the impact they made. Amazing to have had that much success after they perished.
    Anthony Bourdain at 61 was still too young.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A super header, Susannah. Your list is outstanding. Your post brought to mind that most great human beings never think of themselves as great, no matter the accolades. So we have to hope they all found some joy in the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patricia says:

    I so admire writers. It is hard for me to imagine having the fortitude and stamina to write a book and have it published… alive or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorryless says:

    A girl I was dating gifted me A Confederacy of Dunces back in the day. I hadn’t heard of it before that but when she told me how it got published, I was curious. So glad I read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. robinsaikia says:

    I love that story about Hemingway and Fitzgerald – I hope I’ve remembered it more or less correctly. Hemingway (drunk, somewhat sententious: “The rich are different from us…: Fitzgerald: “Yes, they have more money…”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s pretty accurate if I remember right. Have you ever read their letters to each other? The spelling would make you mix an immediate martini, it was so bad. They’d be so in love with spellcheck if they were here now. Thanks. Appreciate the contribution. Always makes the piece better. 🙂


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