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A Brief History of Writers Who Died Untimely Deaths

We recently read Rachel Maddux’s essay “Here with the Windies” about the sudden, shocking death of Margaret Mitchell back in 1949 (she was hit by a cab on the way to see a movie), and we were inspired to come up with a group of writers who died before their time. To narrow things down a bit, we elected to leave aside the suicides (DFW, Sylvia Plath, Iris Chang… the list goes on), as well as the poets who succumbed to disease (see: Shelley, Keats). That said, if we’ve left off your favorite writer who died too young, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Li Bai / Li Po


This 8th-century Chinese poet, known as one of the greatest Romantics during the Tang Dynasty (China’s “golden age” of poetry), died by either drowning after trying to embrace the reflection of the moon in the Yangtze River or mercury poisoning. You can find much of his work — which, it’s worth noting, frequently celebrates the joys of wine — in the collection, Three Hundred Tang Poems.

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