Daniel DeNoon reports research by James C. Kaufman that “Poets die sooner than playwrights. Playwrights die sooner than novelists. And novelists die sooner than nonfiction writers.” The article continues:
“Some of the reasons why poets have [been] found to be more likely to suffer from mental illness … may also be applicable to why poets are more likely to die young,” Kaufman writes. “Poetry may appeal to people who are more likely to be self-destructive.” But there’s also a more prosaic explanation, Kaufman acknowledges. Poets tend to achieve fame earlier than other kinds of writers. That puts them in the history books at a younger age — and gives them a better chance of being young when they die. Kaufman, however, prefers the explanation that fiction writers die younger because fiction is lonely work. Playwrights interact with directors and actors; journalists must interview and interact with newsmakers. Fiction writers have only the blank page.