2020-01-07 19:45:09 UTC
Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of depression memoir ‘Prozac Nation,’ dies at 52
By Christi CarrasStaff Writer
Jan. 7, 2020
Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the groundbreaking memoir “Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America,” has died at 52, The Times has confirmed.
Wurtzel died Tuesday at a hospital in Manhattan after a long battle with breast cancer. The writer announced her diagnosis in 2015 and had a double mastectomy. The cancer eventually metastasized to her brain, and she died from complications from leptomeningeal disease, her husband told the Washington Post.
Throughout her life, Wurtzel inspired others with her candid accounts of depression and drug addiction as documented in her many memoirs. Similar stories from other writers liberated by her work soon followed. She published “Prozac Nation,” her first of many impactful confessionals, at 26.
After its 1994 publication, The Times compared “Prozac Nation” to the likes of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” and Susanna Kaysen’s “Girl, Interrupted,” in that it “chronicles a beautiful, intelligent young woman’s breakdown, suicide attempt and subsequent treatment for depression.” Her book was eventually adapted into a 2001 film of the same name starring Christina Ricci.
Wurtzel followed up “Prozac Nation” with more bestselling works, including “More, Now, Again,” which chronicled her experiences with drug abuse and rehab, and “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women,” a feminist essay collection saluting the contributions of prominent female figures such as Hillary Clinton, Margaux Hemingway and Nicole Brown Simpson.
Upon news of her death, several of Wurtzel’s friends and admirers took to social media to pen tributes, including journalist and “Catch and Kill” author Ronan Farrow, who met Wurtzel while studying law with her at Yale.
“She started mid-career as I was starting young,” he wrote. “We were both misfits and she was kind and generous and filled spaces that might have otherwise been lonely with her warmth and humor and idiosyncratic voice. She gave a lot to a lot of us. I miss her.”
Another of Wurtzel’s contemporaries, Amy Friedman, saluted her as well, recalling some of the last words her friend spoke to her.
"[Wurtzel] was one of my closest and dearest friends,” Friedman tweeted. “She fought this disease until the very end. Just 10 days ago she told me, ‘all there is to do is to move forward.’ A beautiful soul. May her memory be a blessing.”
Vanity Fair editor Claire Howorth and Lieutenant Governor of Washington Cyrus Habib — who, like Farrow, attended law school with Wurtzel — also joined the chorus, hailing Wurtzel’s courage and uplifting spirit.
“Elizabeth Wurtzel was SO FUN to work with—genuinely no-holds-barred, topically and communicatively,” Howorth wrote. “Radically honest, and you knew infinite ideas were firing in her mind. She was a tremendous blast of fresh air, and this is terrible news.”
“I’m devastated that my friend [Wurtzel] has passed away,” Habib tweeted. “I learned so much from her about life, music, and the absurdity of our world. She was the voice of Gen X, and for me and our friends she made law school bearable. May God bring her home.”
Wurtzel was born in July 1967 in New York City. She received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College before studying law at Yale.