The Prozac Nation author died at 52 on Tuesday after her breast cancer had metastasized to her brain
As news of her death broke, many celebrities, authors, and fans shared emotional tributes to the writer on social media, commending her for the fearless way she approached depression, drug use, and sex in her memoirs — and the impact she left as an author.
Ronan Farrow, who attended Yale Law School with Wurtzel, wrote a heartfelt tribute to the author and encouraged others to get tested for the BRCA gene, just as Wurtzel had done after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I met Lizzie in law school. 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.”
“After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Lizzie became an advocate for BRCA testing. Please consider getting tested and encourage your loved ones to do the same,” Farrow, 32, added.
His mother Mia Farrow also posted a tribute on Twitter and said she became friendly with Wurtzel after her son met her at Yale.
“Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of ‘Prozac Nation’ has died,” Mia, 74, wrote. “This is so very sad. Lizzy was a classmate of Ronan at Yale Law- and soon became a friend to our family. She was brilliant, complex, fascinating, fun and kind.”
Lieutenant Governor of Washington State Cyrus Habib, one of Wurtzel’s friends, said he was “devastated” over the news.
“I’m devastated that my friend @LizzieWurtzel has passed away,” he wrote. “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.”
Added political commentator Margaret Hoover: “Well my dear, @LizzieWurtzel, you’re trending again. Your wit, love, brilliance, zany nature and magnetism are already missed. Your writing helped me and so many others. Your smile and that devilish sparkle in your eye radiated. Rest In Peace my friend.”
Sarah Weinman, the author of The Real Lolita, shared Wurtzel’s 2018 op-ed for The Guardian, which she penned after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“So, so sad to hear of the early, untimely death of Elizabeth Wurtzel,” she wrote, adding in a second tweet, “Cancer is hell and of course she wrote about it with utter ferocity.”
Sady Doyle, who wrote Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers and Trainwreck, also expressed her heartbreak over Wurtzel’s death.
“People spent so many years writing about Elizabeth Wurtzel as a Sad Example Of Something — female memoir-writers, women who got famous for being themselves, young women generally — and to see her gone so young is a harsh reminder of how cruel that was,” Doyle wrote.
Screenwriter Liz Tigelaar said Wurtzel’s death “hurts my heart” and went on to reflect about her time reading the author’s work.
“I remember reading Prozac Nation and [More, Now, Again]. What a force and a voice and a woman who will be deeply missed,” she tweeted.
Fans also rushed to social media to pay tribute to the author. Many of their tributes emphasized how Wurtzel helped them get through their own struggles with depression or inspired them to pick up a pen and write.
“Gutted to hear the news of #ElizabethWurtzel‘s death. I found her work when I was a depressed black teenage girl in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, and I immediately felt seen and a sense of writerly kinship. She was unafraid with her words and changed the idea of memoir for me,” wrote one user.
“Elizabeth Wurtzel’s brutal honesty about depression, in no hyperbolic sense, saved my life when I was a teenager. This one aches. Wherever you are, thank you,” added someone else.
“Shocking and terribly sad. She was a cultural touchstone, a complicated figure, and a genuine talent. I call that a real artist,” tweeted another person.
Wurtzel’s longtime friend and fellow writer David Samuels confirmed to The New York Times on Tuesday that the author, who popularized confessional-style memoirs and was a face of Gen X, had been battling metastatic breast cancer. She died in Manhattan on Tuesday, according to the Times.
“Lizzie’s literary genius rests not just in her acres of quotable one-liners,” Samuels told the outlet by email, “but in her invention of what was really a new form, which has more or less replaced literary fiction — the memoir by a young person no one has ever heard of before. It was a form that Lizzie fashioned in her own image, because she always needed to be both the character and the author.”
Wurtzel published the hyper-personal Prozac Nation (2002) at the age of 26 and went on to write other books that would challenge social norms, including Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (1998) and More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction (2001).
In 2015, Wurtzel announced she had breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, according to the Washington Post. As she did with depression and addiction, Wurtzel wrote about her cancer in an unapologetic manner, as seen in her 2018 op-ed.