4 Famous Depressed Authors & Their Lives by Eric Olsen
No human being is immune to depression. But authors as a group seem to suffer from it, particularly those who are successful and famous. What follows are the histories and bouts of depression suffered by four famous authors.
J.K. Rowling, 42 years old, was writing stories when she was just six. In the early 90s Rowling, poor and struggling, moved from Britain to Portugal to teach English. While there she met and married a Portuguese journalist. Their union produced a baby girl. But the marriage ended soon after the child's birth, and Rowling moved back to be near her sister in Edinburgh, Scotland.
During this period Rowling began to think about committing suicide. She was not yet famous or rich, and was a single mother, struggling to make ends meet. Rowling says her young daughter caused her to seek help. But, the first doctor she went to, sent her home, telling her if she felt a bit low again to speak with the nurse. The next doctor heard her pain, and got her into counseling. Rowling says about this period that she was never remotely ashamed of it. She says that she went through a really tough time, and is proud that she got out of it.
It was her experience with depression, which gave Rowling the idea of the Dementors, soul-sucking creatures that appeared in the third Harry Potter book. In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, pounding it out on an old manual typewriter.
But the publishing world didn't accept it easily. One year after twelve publishing houses rejected it, a small publisher, Bloomsbury liked it, but advised Rowling to get a day job, since this was just a children's book. Things improved in 1997, when a U.S. auction was held for publishing rights of the Potter novel. Scholastic, Inc. paid Rowling $105-thousand for it, and she says she almost died when she heard about it.
Charles Dickens - 1812 ñ 1870 Dickens began writing fiction at age 21. Two years after that, he wrote a series of short stories, which appeared in monthly magazine installments. Between 1837 and 1839, Dickens penned three of his most famous novels; Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelby. It's believed that it was the manic side of his manic depression that enabled him to be so prolific.
Even though by this time, he was internationally famous and rich, he was hit with a wave of depression in the 1840s. Its onset was triggered by the birth of his son. He spent days locked up in a room, unable to write. To explain what he was feeling, he wrote:
"Men have been chained to hideous walls and other strange anchors but few have
known such suffering and bitterness, as those who have been bound to Pens."
Dickens is considered to have been a genius and the greatest English writer of the 19th century.
He died in June of 1870, leaving behind an estate valued at over $6.5 million.
Anne Rice is an American writer, born in October 1941. She so disliked her given name, Howard Allen O'Brien that in first grade she changed it to Anne. She was greatly influenced by her mother, an unsuccessful Hollywood actress obsessed with the occult. Mother and daughter frequently went on outings in New Orleans, stopping to look at decaying old mansions thought to formerly be the province of witches, warlocks and demons.
In 1962, she married Stan Rice and five years later gave birth to a daughter, Michele. Anne wanted to be a writer, and wrote a short story each day in between being a mother and a wife. But she was unable to get any of them published. He world turned upside down though when her five-year old daughter was diagnosed with acute leukemia and eventually died. Rice plunged into depression, but found she was able to lose herself in her writing.
She began a novel and finished it in five weeks about a vampire obsessed with the company of a five-year old girl, who he wants to turn into another vampire for the company she would provide. But when he learns that she will remain a five-year-old trapped in a vampire's soul, he is crushed. She finished this first book, Interview with the Vampire, in 1973 and it was published it in 1976.
William Faulkner, 1897 ñ 1962 Faulkner's battles with depression and alcoholism did not prevent him from winning the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Faulkner, a Gothic, modernist writer was so successful at his craft that he managed in some small way to dispel the myth that depression equals incompetence. It was Faulkner's bipolar depression that enabled him to create a completely fictional location name Yoknapatawha County which he used as the backdrop for many of his novels.
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Eric Olsen has suffered major bouts of depression throughout his life, and has come out okay on the other side. Part of his time is spent empathizing with those who have depression, and helping them understand that they are not alone.