Great writers with grave vices


When you read a good heartwarming book that fills you with strong emotions and makes you think about the meaning of life, you probably think that the book must have been written by the best person in the whole world. Unfortunately, people are not perfect, and no matter how amazing their creations are, there is still a possibility that they may be a rotten apple. In fact, many world-famous writers, whose books have influenced numerous generations, liked to indulge in various vices. And we’re not talking about kind of vices, but much more serious ones. 

William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs was an American writer and visual artist whose work has had a huge influence on popular culture and literature. J.G. Ballard even called him the most important writer of the period after World War 2. His most famous novel Naked Lunch caused a lot of controversy and even led to a lawsuit for breaking the U.S. sodomy laws. Burroughs suffered from mental health instability and depression and he was addicted to heroin, which he confessed in his novel Junkie. In 1951, Burroughs murdered his second wife, Joan Vollmer, and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was a great novelist, short story writer and journalist, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Many people are familiar with Hemingway’s masterpieces The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises, but not so many people know that Hemingway had problems with alcoholism and that he took part in many dangerous events. He even joined the Russian intelligence agency KGB, and even though he was not a successful spy, this act is considered one of his greatest sins.  

Jerome David Salinger

The author of one of the greatest novels in the USA, The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, is linked to many stories that involve attraction to young women and love affairs with teenagers. He is said to have used his writing mastery to seduce young women and his daughter, Margaret Salinger, described him as a vicious and neurotic man. You can learn more about Salinger’s life from Margaret Salinger’s book Dream Catcher: A Memoir.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, and screenwriter, well-known for his works for children such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, to name just a few. There have been many accounts that describe Dahl as a cruel man. His first wife Patricia Neal nicknamed him “Roald the Rotten” and Robert Gottlieb wrote about the way Dahl mistreated workers, particularly women, in his publishing company. He is also known for his strong anti-semitic feelings and his comments such as ”there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity”.  

It is a question of morality whether we should hold such writers in high esteem, having in mind their vices and wicked deeds. However, what we cannot deny is the fact that their works are true masterpieces of literature and deserve our attention.