Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Respected Writers Who Were Actually Terrible People

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Writers live through their work, and if a book is good enough, an author can achieve


But once a writer becomes a household name, people start to focus on their genius and

forget about all their flaws and foibles.

Reality check: Some of the best novels and short stories ever written have been penned

by men and women with incredibly dark secrets.

On the page, they're masters of their craft, but in real life, they've sold out colleagues,

assaulted family members, and left friends trembling in fear.

If you want to know which of your favorite novels were written by monsters, then brace

yourself as we look at some respected writers who were actually terrible people.

Hunter S. Thompson, first-class jerk

"It's our country.

It's not theirs.

It's not a bunch of used car dealers from Southern California.

In a Democracy you have to be a player."

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas writer Hunter S. Thompson was a literary rockstar, both

when it came to fame and his out-of-control lifestyle.

The father of gonzo journalism, Thompson hung out with the Hell's Angels, went to war with

Richard Nixon, and consumed every drug known to man.

But while he's a colorful character, you wouldn't want Thompson as your friend.

Sure, he's a larger-than-life icon, but he was also a first-class jerk.

Need proof?

According to authors Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Thompson allegedly tied actor Bill Murray

to a chair, tossed him into a pool, and nearly let him drown.

Need more?

During the '80s, Jack Nicholson was celebrating his birthday with his family when Thompson

showed up at his home in the middle of the night and shot a super powerful flare into

the sky.

Next, Thompson aimed a military-style spotlight at Nicholson's home and fired a pistol in

the air.

Then he capped the whole thing off by leaving an elk's heart and some bullet casings on

Nicholson's doorstepas a joke.

Very funny, Thompson.

But you're definitely the only one laughing.

George Orwell sold out other writers

Although George Orwell was a socialist, he was open about his distaste for the Soviet


Just take a glimpse at his two classic works: Animal Farm and 1984.

These two novels absolutely tore the USSR a new one.

But even though Orwell hated dictators and overbearing bureaucracies, that didn't stop

the English author from selling out his fellow writers and artists to a powerful government


In the 1940s, Orwell did some work for a group called the Information Research Department.

In true Orwellian fashion, that innocent-sounding name belonged to a department that specialized

in churning out propaganda.

The IRD's job was to smear the Soviets, so Orwell wanted to make sure they didn't hire

anyone with communist sympathies.

Taking aim at some high profile names, Orwell drew up a list of writers and influential

people he believed sided with the Soviets.

He then handed his blacklist over to the IRD.

"In bird culture, this is considered a d--- move."

Yup, it was a pretty skeezy moveespecially for a man whose entire career was about taking

down Big Brother.

The sad truth was that Orwell proved himself to be a first-class jerk and a horrible hypocrite

who might've done a fine job working for the Thought Police.

Ernest Hemingway, KGB spy

Chisel the Mt. Rushmore of American writers, and you've got to include Ernest Hemingway.

Papa Hemingway typed out some all-time great novels like A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the

Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea, and even nabbed a Nobel Prize.

But when he wasn't churning out classics, you could find him getting drunk and going

on crazy adventures.

He patrolled the Cuban coast in his fishing boat, hunting for Nazi subs.

He drove an ambulance during World War I and worked as a journalist during the Spanish

Civil War.

However, things took a dark turn when Hemingway joined the KGB, the notorious Soviet spy agency.

Part secret police, part intelligence organization, the KGB made its name jailing political opponents

and murdering enemies of the state.

When it comes to digging up dirt and hunting down dissidents, the KGB is right up there

with the Stasi and the Gestapo.

In other words, if you get a job with the KGB, you're automatically not cool.


Not cool!"

And according to books like Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America and Writer,

Sailor, Soldier, Spy, Hemingway actually volunteered to do a bit of espionage for the Soviets.

He was given the codename "Argo" — a ship from Greek mythology; fitting for such a nautical


He may be the granddaddy of modern badassery, but it turned out Hemingway was a lousy spy.

According to official KGB files, Argo never delivered any political information, and the

Russians soon gave up on their undercover author.

J.D. Salinger, total creep

When it comes to writing, J.D. Salinger was no phony.

The reclusive author was the man behind The Catcher in the Rye, one of the most beloved

and debated novels of all time.

But while Salinger's work has attracted legions of fans, many don't knowor overlookhis

controversial history with teenage girls.

As it turns out, Salinger was kind of a creep when it came to manipulating young women.

He would often lure these young girls into romantic relationships by writing them letters,

using both his pen and his power to seduce and trap teenagers.

When he was 53, he spotted a teenage Joyce Mccaynard on the cover of The New York Times

and soon drew her into a relationship.

She would later write about her interactions with the author, describing him as more than

a tad predatory.

Ickier still, he began courting Jean Miller when she was just 14.

He kept their uncomfortable relationship going until the girl turned 20, and then they finally

hooked up.

After an awkward one night stand, Salinger dumped her immediately.

"What did your mother think of this?"

"Well, exactly."

Of course, when it came to people his own age, Salinger was far less seductive.

On one occasion, a woman showed up at his house, collecting for the Red Cross, and he

responded by pulling a gun and threatening to shoot her.

Sure, the man was reclusive, but taking shots at the Red Cross is going a little too far

with the whole angsty writer angle.

Jack London, horrible racist

White Fang is one of the most famous 19th-century American novels, and one of the best stories

ever written from a canine's point of view.

But there's a lot more going on here than a simple story about a wolfdog making its

way in the world.

Pick up a copy of White Fang and skip to the part where the heroic beast encounters white

people for the very first time after living with a tribe of Native Americans.

"As compared with the Indians he had known, they were to him another race of superior


The novel then goes on to say that White Fang's Native American master "was a child-god among

these white skinned ones."

Yeah, it seems White Fang is a really racist wolfprobably because author Jack London

is one of the biggest bigots in American literature.

If you think the "superior gods" stuff is bad, then check out London's essay called

"The Salt of the Earth," which argued that whites are "a race of mastery and achievement."

London even wrote that genocide was just a part of natural selection, something that's

perfectly acceptable when "lesser breeds" encounter Anglo-Saxons.

And don't even get us started on his anti-Chinese 1910 short story, "The Unparalleled Invasion."

Here's the abridged version: China starts taking over the world, so the US and Europe

wipe it off the map with biological weapons.

Real uplifting stuff, London.

Doesn't remind us of evil aliens at all.


Roald Dahl, anti-Semitic jerk

It might come as a surprise that Roald Dahlauthor of James and the Giant Peach, Matilda,

and The BFGwas a bit of a monster in real life, not unlike the ghoulish characters

that populate his stories.

Dahl was reportedly a horrible person who made life miserable for everyone who worked

at his publishing company, Alfred A. Knopf.

According to one account by editor-in-chief Robert Gottlieb, whenever Dahl dropped by

the office, he treated secretaries like servants and threw tantrums when he didn't get his


When the company finally told Dahl to get a grip or get out, everyone in the office

supposedly got on their desks and cheered.

Dahl was so bad that his first wife nicknamed him "Roald the Rotten."

In addition to being generally ill-tempered, he was allegedly racist.

In the original versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa Loompas weren't

eerie-looking orange dwarves from a mystical island; instead, they were actually black


As pointed out by the BBC, in James and the Giant Peach, the character of the Grasshopper


"I'd rather be fried alive and eaten by a Mexican."

But worst of all, Dahl went on the record in 1983 during an interview with New Statesmen,


"There is a trait the in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.

[…] Even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason."

That's right.

According to Roald Dahl, the Jewish people deserved what they got during the Holocaust,

which is definitely not a story you want your kids to hear.

"You can quote Oscar Wilde, and say: When I am gone, I hope it will be said my sins

were scarlet but my books were read."

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