Unspeakable Times

Writers Who Killed People  

Christopher Shultz
42.3k views 15 items

List Rules All deaths are first-degree homicide, unless otherwise noted.

Fiction writers often dream up macabre and gruesome scenarios for their books and short stories. Likewise, journalists sometimes report on crimes of passion and other ghastly deeds. Every now and then, however, authors find themselves committing acts of murder in real life, rather than simply committing them to the page - joining the odd and often tragic ranks of authors who killed people.

From the famous celebrities that are household names to the lesser-known scribblers, all of these men and women can be counted as writers who killed people.

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William S. Burroughs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Writers Who Killed People
Photo:  Marcelo Noah/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Famed Beat Generation writer and progenitor of the weirdo/bizarro subgenre of literature accidentally shot and killed his wife Joan Vollmer during a drug and booze-fueled game of William Tell (whereby an object is shot off a person's head with a handgun). The authorities ruled Vollmer's death an accident, and Burroughs only served time for a minor drug charge.

Anne Perry is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Writers Who Killed People
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Anne Perry is a successful author of historical detective fiction, perhaps best known for her Thomas Pitt and William Monk series of novels. However, in another life, Perry was known as Juliet Hulme, who was convicted alongside her friend Pauline Parker of murdering Parker's mother in 1954.

Her story was the basis for Peter Jackson's film Heavenly Creatures. She was only 16 at the time and engaged in what Perry calls an "obsessive relationship" with Parker, though she denies any romantic feelings the pair may have had for each other (as Jackson suggests in his film). Both she and Parker have expressed significant remorse for their crime in interviews. Concerning her stay in the Mt. Eden women's prison in Auckland, Perry has stated, "I was guilty and it was the right place for me to be."

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Hans Fallada is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Writers Who Killed People
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Hans Fallada was a notable German political novelist who was perhaps best known for his criticisms of Nazism, even while penning works commissioned by Joseph Goebbels (he kept his tales as politically ambiguous as possible, and in doing so subverted the Nazi agenda).

Despite being a kind of writerly Schindler, Fallada had a troubled life marred by depression and addiction. Perhaps most haunting was his accidental murder of friend and lover Hanns Dietrich. The pair had made a suicide pact, having become fed up with the homophobic views of society. They decided to stage a duel with pistols in which both Dietrich and Fallada would perish, considering this death to be more honorable than straight suicide.

But things did not go according to plan. Dietrich missed his partner, but Fallada's shot was on the mark, killing Dietrich instantly. Distraught, Fallada turned the gun on himself, firing into his chest. He survived, however, and was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity. Nonetheless, Fallada's accidental killing of his partner haunted him for the rest of his life, which was spent in and out of institutions. 

Kenneth Halliwell is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Writers Who Killed People
Photo: Diario de un viaje imposible/Fair Use

Kenneth Halliwell was an artist and writer, who co-authored with boyfriend and fellow writer/playwright Joe Orton several novels, only two of which were ever published - Lord Cucumber and The Boy Hairdressers. These books were published posthumously, however, as Halliwell, in an apparent jealous rage, bludgeoned Orton to death with a hammer and then killed himself with sleeping pills.

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