Hunter S. Thompson
(Hunter Stockton Thompson)

July 18, 1937
Birth Name
Hunter Stockton Thompson
Date of Death
February 20, 2005
Place of Death
Woody Creek, Colorado
United States
Gonzo journalism

[Hunter S. Thompson] Introduction

Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author who was the founder of the gonzo journalism movement. He became famous with the release of Hell's Angels in 1967, in which he spent a year living and riding with the motorcycle club, in order to convey an accurate portrayal of their lives. In 1970, he wrote the countercultural feature "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" for Scanlan's Monthly, establishing his unique content. His most well-known work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was published in 1972. This book was later made into two films, Where the Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado in the Freak Power ticket and his campaign was documented in the film Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb. He was well known for being outspoken against Richard Nixon and his coverage of Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign was collected in the book Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72.

Thompson's works became more sporadic after the mid-1970s, as his fame made it difficult to report on certain events. He continued to write columns for San Francisco Examiner and alternative newspapers. His works from 1979 to 1994 were collected in The Gonzo Papers and he wrote intermittently for various publications until his death. Thompson was also notorious for his use of drugs and alcohol, love of firearms, and defiance of authorities. In 2005, he died by suicide after a long history of health issues. In accordance with his wishes, his ashes were fired from a cannon and his funeral was attended by his friends including Jack Nicholson and John Kerry. Thompson's legacy lies in his ability to reveal the ugliness of the world through his unique writing style.

[Hunter S. Thompson] Early life

Hunter S. Thompson was born into a middle-class family in Louisville, Kentucky, the first of three sons of Virginia Davison Ray and Jack Robert Thompson. His parents were introduced by a friend in 1934 and married the following year. Hunter's first and middle name, Hunter Stockton, came from his maternal grandparents. Hunter and his brothers were raised by their mother, and interested in sports, he co-founded the Hawks Athletic Club and joined the Athenaeum Literary Association. The group eventually ejected him for criminal activity, and after serving 31 days in jail he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Thompson completed electronics training and applied to become an aviator but was rejected. After his honorable discharge, Thompson worked for a number of newspapers and magazines, and wrote two novels – Prince Jellyfish and The Rum Diary – and several short stories.

After returning to mainland USA in 1961, Thompson visited San Francisco and eventually lived in Big Sur where he worked briefly as security guard and caretaker. During this time he published his first magazine feature and wrote The Rum Diary, which was finally published in 1998 and adapted as a motion picture. He then traveled to South America as a correspondent for the National Observer. His longtime girlfriend, Sandy Dawn Conklin, joined him in Rio and they married shortly after returning to the USA. Thompson moved to San Francisco and severed his ties with the Observer after his editor refused to publish his review of Tom Wolfe's book. He immersed himself in the counterculture of the area and wrote for the Berkeley underground paper Spider. He later wrote a story about the Hells Angels for The Nation, and Random House published his book about them in 1966. The New York Times praised the work, and the reviewer praised Thompson as a "spirited, witty, observant, and original writer."

[Hunter S. Thompson] Notable Works

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved
Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
The Curse of Lono
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

More Details

 Educated at

  • Columbia University
  • Florida State University
  • Louisville Male High School
  • Atherton High School


  • Journalist