Famous Writers who suffered from depression and other mental disorders

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Edgar Poe and his oddities
Unobvious facts about the famous writer

Predecessor of modernism, whose creations were marked by the seal of boundless melancholy, the writer Edgar Allan Poe is familiar to many as the creator of cult dark stories with mystical overtones. A literary man who tried to take readers beyond trivial thinking, in his short stories, philosophical fiction and rationalizations, he engaged in an artistic exploration of the workings of the human intellect. The formation of the genres of detective and psychological thriller is a direct merit of the novelist.

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Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849)

Edgar Allan Poe’s stories influenced such famous writers as Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and Howard Phillips Lovecraft. His works were appreciated by both venerable critics and the general public. However, the biography of the writer was sometimes not inferior to the stories written by Poe.

Was hydrophobic

When Poe was five years old, he almost died after falling from a tree into a pond. The boy was pulled out of the water without a pulse and was barely brought back to life. This experience was forever imprinted in his memory, causing a panic fear of bodies of water.

For a long time the writer could not learn to swim, although he persistently strove to overcome his fear. In adulthood, he mastered this skill and even set a record by swimming several kilometers, but any contact with open bodies of water led to strong feelings. Often his swims ended in psychological vomiting.

“Herald of the depths and bearer of secrets, immortal Edgar, who took on his world service a great burden – to reveal to us how lonely can be the soul of Man among men…”


Alcohol and drug addiction

After the death of his mother, from the age of three, the future writer grew up in the house of the Allan couple – wealthy merchants from Richmond. The boy never needed anything. However, after entering the University of Virginia, where Poe became addicted to alcohol and cards, relations with his stepfather broke down. After a series of major family scandals, John Allan disinherited his adopted son. Biographers believe that the story “Metzengerstein”, in which the title character kills his enemy – the patriarch of the Berlifitzing family, is an attempt to avenge his stepfather for his coldness.

Later, due to addiction to alcohol and drugs he was fired several times from the post of editor-in-chief of major literary magazines.

According to one version, drinking prevented his meeting with the son of President Tyler, who was supposed to get the writer a job. Poe himself explained this misunderstanding by his poor health.

Bipolar disorder

Affective disorders, to which Edgar Poe was subject from his youth, were bipolar in nature. Depressive states of the writer were accompanied by feelings of sadness, tearfulness, desire for loneliness. In the depressions of the early period of life in Edgar Poe also noted high creative activity: he wrote melancholy and gloomy poems, translated German and French romantics. Depressions lasted at first no more than a month and occurred less often than mania. However, it was with depressive disorders and began alcoholic addiction of the writer.

Against the background of “black melancholy” appeared frightening auditory and visual hallucinations. Delusions of persecution and influence appeared. Poe believed that fellow writers conspired to destroy him, they allegedly publish his works under their own names, hire special “trappers” to deprive him of creative forces and drive him crazy.

He found the death of a beautiful woman very poetic

In Edgar Poe’s stories, young ladies die with enviable regularity. The writer was an early orphan; his mother, actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, at the height of her career. Perhaps it was this tragedy that began the leitmotif of death in the future writer’s work.

However, the death of his young wife Virginia was a deep shock for Poe and led to irreversible consequences for his psyche. Poe became aggressive, began to work less. Trying to establish his life, the writer frantically searched for a replacement for his beloved wife. Twice after her death, he tried to enter into a new marriage, but all attempts were unsuccessful. The last time, shortly before his own wedding, Edgar Poe simply disappeared. He was found in a state of psychosis and placed in a hospital, where he died a few days later.

He was a perfectionist writer

Poe was an opponent of “writing by inspiration.” Many of his famous works were written on the evil of the day, had many references to scientific achievements. Thus, in the essay “Philosophy of Art” the writer described in detail how he created “The Raven” his most famous poem. Each epithet of the poem was carefully thought out.

Another legendary work the story “The Gold-Bug” was written during the fashion for cryptography. Undoubtedly, Poe was aware of this and not only gave his readers a story on a topical subject, but also contributed to the development of cryptography later on. In “The Gold Bug,” the writer created a simple code that his hero solved, and after the story was published in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, he invited readers to send him their own ciphers.

Why did Virginia Woolf favor women

Adeline Virginia Woolf ( January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941)-English writer considered one of the most important modernist authors of the 20th century and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.

She was born into the family of literary critic Leslie Stephen. Her father turned the house into a literary and artistic salon that was very popular in artistic and bohemian London. Virginia, her sister Vanessa and older brothers Tobias and Adrian were brought up in an environment where art and talk about it created a special atmosphere, and books, easels and drawing albums replaced dolls and toys.

Why did Virginia Woolf favor women
Adeline Virginia Woolf / childhood

At the age of thirteen, fate put Virginia to the test. Two of her mother’s nephews, who were about to enter university, came to visit her. Late one night, returning from another trip to the bar, they found Virginia in the library. The girl in a nightgown seemed so arousing to the drunken cousins that they pounced on her and tried to rape her. At Virginia’s screams, servants came running, and violence was avoided. This was a great shock to her, but it was made worse by the devaluing reaction of her parents, who said that the girl had provoked the situation herself. Promiscuous young men were chased away, and the daughter was scolded for indiscretion and forbidden to complain to anyone, it was to remain a family secret. Not finding support and comfort from relatives, Virginia suffered greatly from what had happened. It can be assumed that this was the reason for her subsequent sexual fear of men. It was only in the company of women that she felt safe. Most likely, these same events influenced the formation of her feminist views and made Virginia one of the central figures of feminism in the 1970s.

That same fall, having caught a cold in the theater, from pneumonia died of pneumonia her mother, with whom they had not spoken for three months. For Virginia it was another blow, because they parted forever, not even reconciled. The girl blamed herself for everything and tried to commit suicide for the first time. Her rescue could be called a miracle …

All this series of events formed in her a strong guilt complex, and she, like a seashell, shut herself in, leaving herself only books. It took her a long and painful time to come to her senses, realizing her terrible loss. And only books gave her a ghostly, but still relief. From that moment she began to keep her first diaries.

The printing press instead of motherhood

Years went by, life got better, and one day Virginia married an intelligent journalist-critic, Leonard Woolf. Whether they were physically close, critics argue to this day. What is certain is that he was her best friend. They had no children during their marriage, but one day Leonard gave her a printing press, thanks to which her literary works were born like the birth of their children. The first works of Sigmund Freud, who was gaining popularity, were published in this printing press.

To be or not to be

On March 28, 1941, the loss of loved ones, the unrelenting sadness and the question “What am I living for?” led Virginia to the sidewalk of the River Oates on the outskirts of London, where she was found three days later. The pockets of her coat were tightly stuffed with pebbles. Are they not a symbol of the weight she had carried in her soul all her life?


To be continue…