Halloween draws near, and with it, the reminders of our own mortality. Ghosts and goblins are ways of coping with what George Bernard Shaw called “that troublesome business”: death. And, as Jim Morrison aptly noted, “No one here gets out alive.” So on that cheerful note, here are some of the last words of famous writers and images of their final resting places. At eNotes, we only haunt you with the very best!
1. Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)
“Goodnight, my kitten.” ~ To his wife, before he shot and killed himself.
2. L. Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919)
“Now I can cross the shifting sands.” ~ Referring to the desert that surrounded his fictional city, Oz. Baum suffered a stroke from which he never recovered.
3. Dylan Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
“I had eighteen straight whiskies…I think that’s a record.” While alcohol probably hastened the poet’s demise, new theories attribute undiagnosed pneumonia as the more likely cause of death.
4. James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941)
“Does nobody understand?” No direct cause has ever been attributed to Joyce’s death but his heavy drinking almost certainly played a prominent role.
5. Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)
“Is it not meningitis?” ~ It was not, actually. Alcott died as a result of mercury poisoning.
6. Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)
“I want nothing but death.” ~ To her sister, Cassandra, inquiring if she wanted anything. (It has never been determined from what, exactly, the 41-year-old author succumbed to (speculations have included stomach cancer, Addison’s disease and bovine tuberculous) but the latest research suggests arsenic poisoning may have been the culprit.
7. Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)
“Goodbye. If we meet…” ~ To his daughter, Clara. Twain died of a myocardial infraction (heart attack).
8. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)
“More light!” ~ The cause of Goethe’s death is unknown.
9. Henrik Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906)
“On the contrary!” ~ Ibsen’s response to his nurse, who remarked that he seemed better. Ibsen died as a result of complications from a stroke.
10. Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005)
“Relax — This won’t hurt.” ~ Thompson’s final line in his suicide note. The author shot himself. An iconoclast to the end, his widow said Thomas wanted to go out with a bang, and he did. On a platform he personally designed, Thompson had his ashes shot from a cannon to the music of Norman Greenbaum‘s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” You can watch a video of Thompson’s final farewell here.