A Rough Year For Book Lovers Too: Famous Authors Who Died In 2016

The year 2016 was a hard year for celebrity deaths, but the world also lost a number of incredible authors who died over the past year.

From beloved children’s authors, to prize-winning novelists, here is a list of famous authors we said goodbye to in 2016.

Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Elie Weisel, who told the story of his Holocaust internment in his autobiographical novel Night, died on July 2 at age 87.

Weisel’s wise words about injustice inspired millions. Weisel, who once said, “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference,” said that there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, “but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

The world also lost beloved author Harper Lee in 2016. The American novelist won a Pulitzer Prize for her debut novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, which would go on to become one of the most-loved novels of all time and continues to be taught in schools throughout the country.

Tuck Everlasting author, Natalie Babbitt, died in November at 84. Babbitt wrote many children’s novels, but Tuck Everlasting was her most popular, and was published in 27 countries.

The Guardian praised Babbitt Babbitt, for having “a great respect for children’s intelligence as readers,” never patronizing or moralizing to her readers, but instead raising interesting questions for them to think through on her own.

British novelist Richard Adams, who became one of the world’s best-selling authors with his first book, Watership Down, died in December at 96. The New York Times called his first and most famous book “a tale of rabbits whose adventures in a pastoral realm of epic perils explored Homeric themes of exile, courage and survival.”

The book, which was originally rejected and met with lukewarm reviews, eventually became Penguin’s all-time best selling book and required reading in high school English classes across America. It also became one of the best-selling books of the century, with an estimated 50 million copies in print in 18 languages around the world.

Another important author we lost to 2016 was Gloria Naylor. She was best known for her book, The Women of Brewster Place, which was adapted to a film starring Oprah Winfrey.

Naylor was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1985 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988. She earned her master’s degree in African-American Studies from Yale and taught writing at a number of universities, including New York University and Cornell.

Naylor died of a heart attack in September, according to Huffington Post. She was 66-years-old.

W.P. Kinsella, whose book became the well-loved movie Field of Dreams, also died in September.

Kinsella said he wrote the novel Shoeless Joe, which would become the iconic movie Field of Dreams, while attending a writers’ workshop in northeast Iowa during the summer of 1988. USA Today reported that he said he was inspired to write the book because of two words: “colossal boredom.” He was 81.

The year 2016 saw the deaths of many other authors of books that became award-winning movies.

Jim Harrison, who wrote Legends of the Fall, died in December at age 78. Harrison was a prolific author of fiction, reviews, essays, poetry, and even writings about food.

Italian philosopher Umberto Echo, whose book, The Name of the Rose, was also turned into a movie, also died this year. He was 84.

Another author who gave us great movies was Pat Conroy, who wrote The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, among many other books.


The best-selling author died at 70-years-old after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

It is also worth noting that while the world is mourning the death of Carrie Fisher as an actress, she was also a wonderful author. Her first book, Postcards From the Edge, became a hit movie that New York Magazine called a “perfect mother-daughter opus.”

Lastly, beloved children’s author Anna Dewdney also died in 2016, at only 50-years-old.

Dewdney, who succumbed to brain cancer, wrote and illustrated many children’s books, though she was perhaps best known for her sweet Llama Llama books.

In her memorial notice, Dewdney asked well-wishers in lieu of flowers, if they would read to a child in her memory.

[Featured Image by Rob Carr/AP Images]