3. Sylvia Plath
Most celebrated books: The Colossus And Other Poems (1960), The Bell Jar (1963)
Life story: To describe Sylvia Plath’s short life as “crazy” feels somewhat inappropriate, but, when pondered for a bit, the downbeat yet brilliant young author’s existence remains a fascinating study of unbeatable depression. From the early age of eight, Plath battled through a downward mental spiral triggered by the death of her father; though her burgeoning writing career was full of potential, she repeatedly tried to kill herself, including one attempt when she hid underneath her house and gorged upon sleeping pills.
She eventually married fellow poet Ted Hughes, but, in 1962, she learned about his bed-hopping ways and promptly showed him the exit. Which, of course, didn’t help uplift her spirits any; less than a year later, Plath, then merely 30-years-old, finally managed to achieve suicide by sticking her head in an oven to ingest the carbon monoxide fumes.
One thing’s for sure: Plath’s life is certainly more of a downer than William Shakespeare’s. And also more psychologically intriguing, an opinion that’s strengthened by one read-through of Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar. It’s the kind of brutally personal narrative that could only come from the author’s own woes—no Shakespeare-like accusations of ghostwriting necessary.