Bill Peschel •
Writers Gone Wild •
If you imagine writers as dignified, morally upright, superior beings, think again. Some of the most revered literary lions have perpetrated some of the most outrageous acts—conveniently anthologized for your Schadenfreude pleasure by Bill Peschel.
You may already know that Coleridge took opium and William Faulkner suffered from the DTs. But did you also know that Katherine Anne Porter decided gravity was “optional” after smoking dope in Mexico? Or that Raymond Chandler stayed drunk for eight days straight in order to finish a screenplay?
Some authors don’t even have alcohol or drugs as a cheap excuse. What on earth was Virginia Woolf doing aboard HMS Dreadnought—the flagship of the Royal Navy—disguised as an Abyssinian potentate? Up to no good, I’m afraid.
O. Henry began his writing career while doing time in prison for embezzlement, with his young daughter being told that Daddy was away on business. In fact, he may even have based his pseudonym on the experience: The government detained him in the OHio penitENtiaRY.
Theodore Dreiser lost his newspaper job when it was discovered that he had bluffed his way through a review of a cancelled performance. (And you thought that only happened in recent years!) Mary Lamb, sister of Charles, murdered their mother with a knife. And Henry Miller—well, what didn’t Miller do in his time?
If there’s a scandal associated with a famous writer, you can be sure Peschel has raked it up. The only real surprise is that the book isn’t longer.