Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the bestselling memoir Prozac Nation, has died at the age of 52. The author and columnist passed away on January 7 at a Manhattan hospital due to complications from breast cancer, reports The Washington Post. In her typical candid fashion, Wurtzel revealed the diagnosis in a 2015 editorial for Vice titled “And Now This.” Wurtzel underwent a double mastectomy and married Jim Freed, who tells the Post that the author’s cancer metastasized to her brain. She officially died from “leptomeningeal disease, which occurs when cancer spreads to the cerebrospinal fluid.”
Wurtzel first rose to prominence in 1994 at the age of 26 with the publishing of her memoir, Prozac Nation, in which she detailed her struggles with atypical depression. The memoir was later adapted into a 2001 drama starring Christina Ricci as Wurtzel, and was followed two months later by the release of the author’s followup, More, Now, Again: A Memoir Of Addiction. It was a brutally honest and often unnerving document of Wurtzel’s drug addiction—spurred by a prescription for Ritalin—and ongoing struggles with depression. In the years since the release of Prozac Nation, Wurtzel went on to write for The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, New York magazine, and Slate, providing frank and often personal commentary on everything from the passing of her friend and fellow author David Foster Wallace to learning her parents’ dark secret.
In addition to her columns, which had a tendency to elicit a sort of voyeuristic thrill, Wurtzel published a few other non-fiction books, including 1998's Bitch: In Praise Of Difficult Women (which featured essays on women like Amy Fisher and Hillary Clinton) and 2015's Creatocracy: How The Constitution Invented Hollywood. Speaking with The Telegraph in 2015, the then-47-year-old Wurtzel felt optimistic and hopeful about having children following her marriage to Freed. That hope was never fulfilled.