A generation of women writers who learned that their own lives, struggles, and pain were worth a story, are mourning the loss of author Elizabeth Wurtzel, who passed away today from metastatic breast cancer. She was 52.
Wurtzel, who began her seminal book, Prozac Nation, in 1986 while she was a student at Harvard, ushered in a new era of confessional writing and gave a voice to young women who were coming of age in the '90s, dealing firsthand with mental illness, depression, and the ugly reality that came with an image so easily glamorized. Before personal essays took over xoJane, before HBO aired Girls, and even before a community of girls wrote about their depression on LiveJournal and Xanga (blog posts often sprinkled with Wurtzel quotes, in fact) there was the gritty honesty and unapologetic self-analysis of Prozac Nation.
Wurtzel followed up her debut with 1998’s Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women, and in 2001, Prozac Nation was made into a film starring Christina Ricci, bringing the important subject matter back to the forefront of pop culture.
A consistent chronicler of her own life, Wurtzel continued to pen essays and explore the struggles that were both distinctly personal and universal. In 2018, she published a piece in The Guardian about her latest trial, “I have cancer. Don't tell me you're sorry.”
In it, a quote that sums up her philosophy and legacy so well: “We are human. Unlike other creatures, we live in narrative. We are conscious. If you make up the right story, it will be so.”
Thank you for everything, Elizabeth.