List of famous Dead authors
There's no rule for how to properly commemorate a literary great—so some authors' grave sites are more modest than mausoleum.
Driving down Veirs Mill Road on the way to the Rockville Amtrak station in Rockville, Md., it's easy to miss the small banner to the side of St. Mary's Church, laying claim to the grave of one of America's most lauded authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald.
But ask a local where Fitzgerald is buried, and you might soon venture through a small metal gate into the cemetery, wander through the overgrowth, and find Fitzgerald's final resting place. He's buried next to his wife, Zelda, and their grave is commemorated with the Great Gatsby quote: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
On the sunny, early fall Sunday I was there, no one else was visiting Scott, though it's clear that others had been before, judging by the pennies left atop his and Zelda's worn stone marker. The pennies could go back to old-world folklore about leaving something to take into the afterlife, perhaps, or they could also could also serve as belated and futile insurance against Fitzgerald's rapid descent in society due to alcoholism and an excessive lifestyle, which left him broke and feeling like a failure when he died in his 40s, despite having published more than 150 short stories and four novels (a fifth, The Love of the Last Tycoon or sometimes just The Last Tycoon, was published posthumously).Some have touching or amusing epitaphs—Charles Bukowski's is "Don't try."
Writers' graves can be surprising places to visit. Unlike the luminaries housed at more elegant cemeteries, like Pere Lachaise in Paris (Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Richard Wright), many literary stars lie for eternity in simpler, plainer spots around this country, with traditions around how to commemorate them as widely varied as the genres they comprise.
Some have touching or amusing epitaphs—Charles Bukowski's is "Don't try."
The flamboyant persona of Truman Capote, meanwhile, might shudder at the simplicity of his grave marker: His ashes are noted with a plaque on the wall in a cemetery in Westwood Memorial in Los Angeles. (His proximity to the graves of Natalie Wood and Marilyn Monroe might make him smile from that great Tiffany's in the sky).
Oddly, a couple handfuls of Capote's ashes were kept at the house of his friend Joanne Carson (Johnny's wife), until they were stolen one Halloween night and then later returned, mysteriously, in the dead of night, and placed in a coiled-up garden hose out back. (Some of Capote's ashes have also been scattered in New York, making him forever bicoastal).
e.e. cummings is buried in Forrest Hills cemetery in Boston on a hill overlooking a lake, beneath a tiny rock that you can barely find (even with a map, depending on how many leaves have fallen that day), just a short walk from Anne Sexton's larger, more noticeable tombstone.