Elizabeth Wurtzel

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Elizabeth Wurtzel
Elizabeth Wurtzel, in Brooklyn, NY (October 2014)
Born Elizabeth Lee Wurtzel
(1967-07-31) July 31, 1967 (age 48)
New York City, U.S.
Occupation Author, journalist, lawyer
Nationality American
Education Harvard College
Yale Law School
Genre Confessional memoir
Notable works Prozac Nation
Spouse James Freed (m. 2015)

Elizabeth Lee Wurtzel (born July 31, 1967)[1] is an American writer and journalist, known for publishing her best-selling memoir Prozac Nation, at the age of 26. She holds a BA from Harvard College and a JD from Yale Law School.

Early life[edit]

Wurtzel was brought up in New York City in a Jewish family. Her parents divorced when she was young. As described in her memoir Prozac Nation, Wurtzel's depression began at the ages of 10 to 12. She attended the Ramaz School in New York City.[2] While an undergraduate at Harvard College, she wrote for The Harvard Crimson and The Dallas Morning News; she was fired from the latter publication in 1988 after being accused of plagiarism.[3] Wurtzel also received the 1986 Rolling Stone College Journalism Award.[4][5] Wurtzel subsequently moved to Greenwich Village in New York City and found work as pop music critic for The New Yorker and New York Magazine. A critic for The New York Times characterized her contributions to the former publication as "unintentionally hilarious." [6]

Prozac Nation[edit]

Wurtzel is best known for publishing her best-selling 1994 memoir Prozac Nation, published when she was 26. The book chronicles her battle with depression as a college undergraduate and her experience with the medication Prozac. The film adaptation of Prozac Nation, starring Christina Ricci, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2001.[7] It was telecast on the Starz! network in March 2005[8] and released on DVD in the summer of 2005.

More, Now, Again[edit]

Wurtzel's follow-up memoir to Prozac Nation, More, Now, Again, dealt with her Ritalin addiction and tweezing habits. It received generally negative reviews. In Salon.com, Peter Kurth wrote that Wurtzel “imagines that every word she utters and every thought that pops into her head is fraught with meaning and portent. And still her new book goes nowhere.” He called the book “dysfunctional,” characterized the author as an “overage adolescent,” and concluded, “Sorry, Elizabeth. Wake up dead next time and you might have a book on your hands.”[9] In the London Guardian, Toby Young wrote that “Wurtzel's overweening self-regard oozes from every sentence" and concluded, "In a sense, More, Now, Again is the reductio ad absurdum of this whole self-obsessed genre: it's a confessional memoir by someone who has nothing to confess. Wurtzel has nothing to declare apart from her self-adoration. A better title for it would be Me, Myself, I.[10]

Law school[edit]

In 2004, she applied to Yale Law School and was accepted despite the fact that "… Her combined LSAT score of 160 was, as she put it, 'adequately bad' … 'Suffice it to say I was admitted for other reasons,' Ms. Wurtzel said. 'My books, my accomplishments.'…"[11] She received her J.D. in 2008, but failed the New York bar exam the first time she took it. Wurtzel sparked controversy in the legal community by holding herself out as a lawyer in interviews, even though she was not licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction at the time.[12] However, Wurtzel passed the February 2010 New York State bar exam,[13] and was employed at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in New York City for some time. As of June 2012, she is no longer listed as an attorney with that firm.[14] In July 2010, she wrote a proposal in the Brennan Law Center blog for abolishing bar exams.[15]

Writing career[edit]

While an intern at Dallas Morning News, Wurtzel was fired for fabricating quotations in an unpublished article.[16]

Wurtzel has written regularly for The Wall Street Journal.[17]

On September 21, 2008 after the suicide of writer David Foster Wallace, Wurtzel wrote an article for New York about time spent with him.[18]

In January 2009, she wrote an article for The Guardian,[19] arguing that the vehemence of opposition demonstrated in Europe to Israel's actions in the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, when compared to the international reaction to human rights abuses in China, Darfur, and Arab countries, suggested an antisemitic undercurrent fueling the outrage.

In 2009 Wurtzel wrote an article in Elle magazine about societal pressures related to aging.[20] In the frank article, she discusses her regrets about her youth of casual sex and drug-taking, and her realization that she is not as beautiful as she once was. In the article, she writes that "whoever said youth is wasted on the young actually got it wrong; it's more that maturity is wasted on the old."

Wurtzel has announced a forthcoming book entitled Creatocracy; scheduled for release in 2014 under Thought Catalog's publishing imprint, TC Books. It is based on the thesis she wrote about intellectual property law upon graduation from Yale Law school.[21]

Wurtzel's publisher, Penguin, sued her in September 2012 in an effort to reclaim a $100,000 advance for a 2003 book contract for "a book for teenagers to help them cope with depression" that Wurtzel failed to complete. Of the $100,000, Penguin advanced Wurtzel $33,000 and sought interest of $7,500, claiming to have suffered detriment at Wurtzel's expense.[22] The case is still in litigation.

In early 2013 Wurtzel published a New York Magazine article lamenting the unconventional choices she had made in life, including heroin use and her failure to marry, form a family, or buy a house. "At long last, I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24," she wrote.[23] In Slate, Amanda Marcotte called the piece Wurtzel's "latest word dump" and remarked that it was "as lengthy as it is incoherent." [24] Writing in The New Republic, Noreen Malone said of the piece that “Wurtzel wants us to know that she’s a mess, and kindly invites us to rubberneck.”[25] Prachi Gupta in Salon.com characterized the essay as "rambling" and "self-involved." [26] The essay, wrote Tracie Egan Morrissey in Jezebel.com, “reads like a transcript of an eloquent coke rant or a Robin Williams free-association jag” and, like Wurtzel’s life, “doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose.”[27]

Personal life[edit]

As of September 2014, Wurtzel was engaged to be married.[28] She married James Freed Jr. in May 2015.[29]

In February 2015, Wurtzel announced she had breast cancer—"which like many things that happen to women is mostly a pain in the ass. But compared with being 26 and crazy and waiting for some guy to call, it's not so bad. If I can handle 39 breakups in 21 days, I can get through cancer.” She said of her double mastectomy and reconstruction, “It is quite amazing. They do both at the same time. You go in with breast cancer and come out with stripper boobs.”[30]


  • Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America: A Memoir (1994)
  • Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (1998)
  • More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction (2001)
  • The Secret of Life: Commonsense Advice for Uncommon Women (2004) (previously published as Radical Sanity and The Bitch Rules)


  1. ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (2007-10-28). "Coming Soon: ‘Law School Nation’?". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  2. ^ "'From Prozac Nation to Yale Law School? Elizabeth Wurtzel's Unlikely Journey'". Abcnews.go.com. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  3. ^ "'The Liars’ Club: An Incomplete History of Untruths and Consequences'". Observer.com. 2006-03-06. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Wurtzel (author of Prozac Nation)". Goodreads.com. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  5. ^ "For Better or for Wurtzel, Author and Lawyer Elizabeth Sanguine About Failing the Bar Exam". Observer.com. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  6. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/25/books/rambunctious-with-tears.html
  7. ^ "Hypericum Buyers Club". Hbcprotocols.com. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  8. ^ Schwartz, Missy (2005-02-21). "''Bitter Pill'', Entertainment Weekly". Ew.com. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  9. ^ http://www.salon.com/2002/01/23/wurtzel_4/
  10. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/mar/03/biography.features2
  11. ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (2007-10-28). "Coming Soon: ‘Law School Nation’?". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  12. ^ "Elizabeth Wurtzel: Can She Call Herself a ‘Lawyer’ Without Having Passed the Bar?". Abovethelaw.com. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  13. ^ "Passing February 2010 (W-Z)". nybarexam.org. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  14. ^ "Search Results". bsfllp.com. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  15. ^ Wurtzel, Elizabeth (2010-07-01). "Testing, Testing… What Exactly Does the Bar Exam Test". http://www.brennancenter.org. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  16. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/17/nyregion/public-lives-depression-princess-tells-about-life-of-addiction.html
  17. ^ Wurtzel, Elizabeth (2009-04-09). "Twelve Years Down the Drain". online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  18. ^ Wurtzel, Elizabeth (September 21, 2008). "Beyond the Trouble, More Trouble: Depression in the best of us". New York Magazine, "Intelligencer". 
  19. ^ Wurtzel, Elizabeth (January 16, 2009). "Standing against a tide of hatred". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  20. ^ Wurtzel, Elizabeth (2009-05-20). "Failure to Launch: When Beauty Fades". Elle. Retrieved 2011-02-09. 
  21. ^ (http://thought.is/site/assets/files/1272/chris_lavergne_and_mink_choi_reflect_on_thought_catalog_books_the_past_and_the_future_2minutes.pdf)
  22. ^ Flood, Alison (2012-09-27). "Penguin sues authors over 'failing to deliver books'". The Guardian London. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  23. ^ Elizabeth Wurtzel, Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One-Night Stand of a Life, New York Magazine, January 6, 2013
  24. ^ http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/01/07/elizabeth_wurtzel_in_new_york_magazine_confessional_writing_hits_bottom.html
  25. ^ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/111690/elizabeth-wurtzel-doesnt-reveal-enough-about-herself-no-really
  26. ^ http://www.salon.com/2013/08/07/elizabeth_wurtzel_is_writing_another_confessional_memoir/
  27. ^ http://jezebel.com/5973839/elizabeth-wurtzel-at-44-sadder-than-depression
  28. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/opinion/sunday/elizabeth-wurtzel-why-i-will-be-wed.html
  29. ^ http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/style/elizabeth-wurtzel-finds-someone-to-love-her.html?ref=topics&_r=0&referrer
  30. ^ http://www.vice.com/read/and-now-this-678

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