Beloved 'Hatchet' Author Gary Paulsen Has Died — What Was His Cause of Death?

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Oct. 14 2021, Published 12:08 p.m. ET

Children's author Gary Paulsen, best known for his coming-of-age wilderness story Hatchet, has died at age 82. Macmillan Children's Publishing Group representative Molly B. Ellis confirmed the news on Oct. 13, 2021. The beloved author was a three-time Newbery Honor recipient, and his loss is felt by fans.

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What was the cause of Gary's death? Here's everything we know about the late author.

Gary Paulsen.
Source: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
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What was Gary Paulsen's cause of death? He died "suddenly."

In a statement provided by Macmillan Children's Publishing Group representative Molly B. Ellis, via USA Today, the publishing house, which was responsible for the body of Gary's works, said that the author died "suddenly" but did not reveal a cause of death. In 1990, he retired from dog sledding due to a heart disease, which is speculated to have contributed to his death.

The statement of remembrance also reads, "It was [Gary]’s overwhelming belief in young people that drove him to write. His desire to tap deeply into the human spirit and encourage readers to observe and care about the world around them brought him both enormous popularity with young people and critical acclaim from the children’s book community."

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Gary Paulsen
Source: Scholastic

In total, Gary wrote over 200 titles of mostly young adult literature with a focus on wilderness survival. His recent memoir, Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood, was published in January 2021. The memoir is designed for middle-grade audiences and details the way Gary coped with his parents' alcoholism by taking refuge in the woods and at the library.

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Gary Paulsen is survived by his wife and son.

Gary's writing reflected a lifelong appreciation for nature. The author often spent his time divided between his home in Alaska, his ranch in New Mexico, and his sailboat on the Pacific Ocean, according to his bio at Penguin Random House. As an adult, Gary trained dogs for Alaska's annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in which he also competed twice.

Source: Twitter

Gary is survived by his wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist and children's book illustrator. The couple share a son.

Gary's final novel, titled Northwind, is set to be published in January 2022. At this time, there is no word on whether a public memorial will be held.

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