You’d be forgiven for thinking that Anonymous, the new explosion-free movie from director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012), was just another mushy, lovesick costume drama that we’d need to convince you to actually watch. Looks-wise, the dramatic thriller (opening in theaters this Friday) unquestionably resembles the cinematic likes of Shakespeare In Love, and it’s even centered on the same iconic bard, William Shakespeare (played by Rife Spall).

But, unlike those stuffy period flicks that your girl insists on dragging you to (and that you begrudgingly see in hopes of post-credits nookie), Anonymous has more in common with hard-boiled mysteries. The plot takes on the divisive theory that aristocrat Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), not Shakespeare, wrote the English scribe’s famous plays and poems.

It’s a fine set-up for a movie, yet Anonymous also has us thinking about the many authors whose biographies are more deserving of the big-screen treatment, for various reasons. Some frequently grappled with pills and the bottle; others succumbed to lifelong demons and offed themselves in manners suited for the strangest and darkest of fiction. But all matched the enigmatic virtuosity of their writing with equally dense and beguiling personal histories, the most captivating of which can be found in our list of 10 Writers With Crazier Life Stories Than William Shakespeare.

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Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)