The legend of On the Road tells us that Kerouac wrote the book during a three-week, drug-fueled bender on a 120-foot roll of paper. There’s some truth to that — as the Benzedrine references in On the Road suggest. Kerouac is hardly the only author to write under the influence. Drugs and literature have been fond fellows for centuries. “The poet makes himself a voyant through a long, immense reasoned deranging of all his senses,” Rimbaud once said.
We’ve explored the stoner canon and other mind-expanding lit, but here are the famous writings — not necessarily about drugs (and by authors apart from the usual suspects) — that were written while under the influence.
Anything Stephen King wrote during the 1980s
The macabre author has been open about his addiction to drugs and alcohol during the 1980s, when he can barely remember writing some of his best-known works. During his darkest times, King was consuming mouthwash for the alcohol content and snorted so much cocaine that he was forced to stick cotton wool up his nose “to stop blood dripping on to his typewriter.” King’s addictions stemmed from childhood anxieties and, later, the death of his mother. A fear that he might be unable to write a best-seller without substances kept him consuming pills, booze, and other drugs. After The Tommyknockers was critically panned in 1987, King soon quit. Needful Things was his first book published after getting clean. “I was in a sensitive place anyway, because it was the first thing that I’d written since I was sixteen without drinking or drugging,” he told the Paris Review. “I was totally straight, except for cigarettes. When I finished the book, I thought, This is good.”