43 Writers Who Got High

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on February 20, 2019

A lady called Jaimes has a local blog, and today she decided to write something uplifting. She chose as a subject a photo essay by Life magazine about “Life with Mother“. The Life feature she almost wrote about was “Famous Literary Drunks and Addicts“. PG thinks there is too much uplift in the world already, and decided to write about the literary boozers. The links shown above no longer work. Some of the details in this piece cannot be verified.

Writing can be a lonely affair, with long nights spent wringing words out of the soul. Of course, the more social arts of theatre and music produce a lot of people who cannot control their substances. (Is there anything like the phrase “controlled substances”?) Getting back to the wordsmith, writing and getting high have always gone together, and not always for the better.

There are 43 names on this list. To peruse the Life feature, you have to click once for every new name, which is a lot of work. You get to see a picture of each one, but, with a few exceptions, these guys are fugly. Alcohol, heroin, indoor desk work, and the inevitable cigarettes do not lead to pretty faces. Anne Sexton was a model before a suicide poet, and F. Scott Fitzgerald did photograph well. To some, Charles Bukowski is a sex symbol. If you feel like working the mouse and seeing all the people, that is your choice. If you can find a cached copy of the post, please leave a link in the comments.

Many of the names on this list are obvious. Ernest Hemingway, Tennesee Williams, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are noted fans of altered consciousness. Dashiell Hammet lived for 30 plus years with Lillian Hellman, which might be a good reason to drink. And Truman Capote, among other things, did not suffer false modesty.
“I’m an alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. I’m homosexual. I’m a genius.”
The beatnik/hippie/punk continuum is well represented. William S. Burroughs gave lie to the saying that there are no old junkies. (A surprising number here lived to a ripe old age.) Richard Brautigan and Hunter S. Thompson just would not be themselves in a twelve step program. And Jack Kerouac was staying with Neal Cassidy, and wife, while working on his early novels. Cassidy thought Kerouac smoked too much marijuana.

The list is weighted heavily towards white males. Only six women made the list, and James Baldwin is the only person of color. Ayn Rand was a bit of a surprise…the lady, who allegedly copped her pen name from a typewriter, was a speed fan. Another surprise was Stephen King. The horror meister is a cocaine fan, and is one of the few authors that can afford a hobby like that.

Perhaps the best comment comes from Edna St. Vincent Millay
.”My candle burns at both ends / It will not last the night / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends / It gives a lovely light!” This is a repost, with pictures from The Library of Congress.

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