It is unbelievable how many incredible authors we come across in our lifetime and how little we know about their personal lives sometimes. Because, believe it or not, some of the best authors in the world had some of the toughest vices that frequently put them in harm’s way, or were used as a valve to relieve the trouble they were in, to begin with. Here are four such authors.
One of the most famous novelists in Russia, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was an author of realism and was influenced by many literary geniuses from times past, like Shakespeare, Sartre, Poe, and so on. He also had a gambling problem.
His debts would frequently get him into trouble with his publisher, as he had to write amazing books and have them sold non-stop to cover his debts in addition to supporting his family, as well as that of his late brother. The most famous instance of this was when his editor, Fyodor Stellovsky, paid Dostoevsky 3,000 rubles for his upcoming book, The Gambler, provided he could finish it in a month. If Dostoevsky had failed, which, thankfully, wasn’t the case, thanks to his stenographer/second wife, Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, Stellovsky would have had rights to all his works.
Edgar Allan Poe
If you know nothing else of Edgar Allan Poe, you should know that he was the master of horror, an amazing literary critic, and, by several accounts, an alcoholic. Much of his life is lost to speculation, with some claiming that he, on occasion, used laudanum, a combination of opium and alcohol, sometimes prescribed as a sedative. There are a few opinions that he suffered from substance abuse, given his description of drugs and alcohol in his stories and his confessions in some letters.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
This one is focused more on Francis, though his wife Zelda did participate in her husband’s crazy alcohol-fueled partying. I cannot say how much of the oddities done by Zelda were there because of alcohol and how many were due to her being a flapper, but she and her husband, reportedly, came to a casual party once wearing pajamas. Zelda was a wild character, who enjoyed smoking and drinking, which was considered extremely improper for a woman at the time.
Francis preferred gin as his drink, claiming it was very hard to smell it on someone’s breath. He was aware of the effect the drink had on him, and one of the quotes attributed to him is: “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” Paired with smoking, he really did a number on his health.