Esther Earl
Earl in 2008
Esther Grace Earl

(1994-08-03)August 3, 1994
DiedAugust 25, 2010(2010-08-25) (aged 16)
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Cause of deathThyroid cancer
Resting placeOakland Cemetery, Medway, Massachusetts
Notable workThis Star Won't Go Out (foundation; book)

Esther Grace Earl (August 3, 1994 – August 25, 2010) was an American author, internet vlogger, online personality, and Nerdfighter, as well as an activist in the Harry Potter Alliance. Prior to her death from cancer in 2010, Earl befriended author John Green, who credited her for the inspiration to complete his bestselling 2012 novel The Fault in Our Stars.[1] In 2014, Earl's writings were compiled with her biography This Star Won't Go Out, which appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for young adult books.[2][3] Earl has been cited as an influential activist, with her family and online followers continuing to hold charity and fundraising events in her memory.[4][5]

Early life and activism

Earl was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, to Wayne and Lori (née Krake) Earl, one of five siblings. The Earls, whom The Boston Globe characterizes as "self-described wanderers", moved between Saudi Arabia, Massachusetts, and France.[6] While in Massachusetts, she resided in Medway before moving with her family to North Quincy and attending North Quincy High School.[1]

In 2007, Earl met John Green, and Margaret Talbot of The New Yorker states she, "was one of the earliest nerdfighters."[7] Initially the two maintained an online friendship, which grew from her self-identification as a Nerdfighter, a member of Nerdfighteria, the online community of Vlogbrothers fans.[7] Earl developed her friendship with Green upon meeting him at LeakyCon 2009, a Harry Potter conference.[8][9] Following the conference, she would continue in the Nerdfighter community,[10] including her involvement with the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and their winning of a $250,000 grant, after Green encouraged voters to vote "with Esther" for the HPA.[11]

Earl built an online presence on platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube.[9][12]

Cancer and death

At the age of 12 in November 2006 in Marseille, Earl was diagnosed with metastasized papillary thyroid cancer.[13] The following Thanksgiving in 2007, her parents sought a second opinion at Boston Children's Hospital. Earl's doctors informed her and her parents that her cancer was terminal.[6][4]

She continued her online community activities until her death due to thyroid cancer on August 25, 2010.[1] John Green, saddened by Earl's death, dedicated a eulogy in vlog format titled, Rest in Awesome, Esther.[14] Earl's YouTube videos remained available for streaming following her death.[12]


Esther Earl doing the "Nerdfighter salute"

Following her death, Earl inspired communities she participated in such as Nerdfighteria and the Harry Potter Alliance. She inspired two books, "Esther Day", as well as the founding of a nonprofit organization.[4] In 2014, after the release of the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars and Esther's novel, Esther's parents spoke at Wallace State Community College and the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute about the legacy that Esther left behind.[15][16] In 2015, Alba, a Quincy restaurant, held a Summer Gala fundraising event in her honor.[17]

Esther Day

Shortly before her death, John Green uploaded I Love Hank: Esther Day 2010.[18] The video was uploaded in celebration of "Esther Day", a day which Earl stated she wanted to be about "family and love."[9] Esther Day is celebrated annually on August 3, Esther's birthday.[19] Green has stated Earl was the one to suggest "the idea of celebrating friends and family and love," specifically, "the kinds of love that are too often overlooked in our culture: love among friends and family."[20] In 2014, bookstores around the United States celebrated Esther Day.[21] Additionally, Green has called Esther Day, "the most important holiday in Nerdfighteria."[22]

This Star Won't Go Out

Esther means "star," and her friends had a bracelet printed out that reads This star won't go out, and it won't. We won't let it.

John Green, 2010[14]

Following her death, Earl's parents, Wayne and Lori founded This Star Won't Go Out, a non-profit organization which helps families that have cancer-stricken children.[9] To assist the organization, the VlogBrothers donate proceeds from TSWGO merchandise sold on[23]

Earl's biography, co-authored by her parents, was posthumously published under the title This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl.[24] Green wrote the introduction.[25] The book was inspired by a promise between Earl and her father: whoever outlived the other would write about the other.[6][26] The book includes a collection of her journals and drawings.[26][27]

The Fault in Our Stars

Esther Earl inspired the character Hazel Grace Lancaster in Green's 2012 novel The Fault in Our Stars as well as its 2014 film adaptation.[13] Shailene Woodley portrayed Lancaster in the novel's film adaptation.[28] Although Earl inspired the novel and the character of Hazel Grace, the novel is not intended to be biographical. Green dedicated the novel to Esther but also found inspiration through others, including his son and wife, as well as his experience as a children's hospital chaplain.[8] Green wrote on his Tumblr blog, "I don't want people conflating Esther with Hazel (they're very different), and it's extremely important to me that I not claim to be telling Esther's story."[29]


  1. ^ a b c "Esther Grace Earl Obituary". The Patriot Ledger. Legacy. August 27, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "Esther's Story". This Star Won't Go Out. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  3. ^ "Best sellers – February 16, 2014 – Young Adult". The New York Times. February 16, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Lupkin, Sydney (November 1, 2012). "Esther Earl Died of Cancer Two Years Ago, but Continues to Inspire Friends and Strangers Everywhere". ABC News. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  5. ^ Trufant, Jessica (August 29, 2016). "Fundraiser in Quincy will help families with sick children". The Patriot Ledger. Archived from the original on March 23, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Goldstein, Meredith (February 1, 2014). "Esther Earl, Quincy teen, is inspiration for two books". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Talbot, Margaret (June 9, 2014). "The Teen Whisperer". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Earl, Evangeline (June 12, 2014). "My sister Esther inspired 'The Fault in Our Stars' The movie is her sequel". Washington Post. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Jamal, Zakiya (June 6, 2014). "Meet Esther Earl, the Brave Girl Who Inspired The Fault in Our Stars". People. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  10. ^ "The Girl Who Inspired 'The Fault In Our Stars' And A Network Of Friends". Here and Now. 90.9 wbur. March 5, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  11. ^ Marquard, Bryan (August 29, 2010). "Esther Earl, 16; built an online following of friends as she battled thyroid cancer". Boston. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Moss, Caroline (June 7, 2014). "Meet The 16-Year-Old Girl Who Lost Her Battle With Thyroid Cancer — And Inspired 'The Fault In Our Stars'". Business Insider. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Cox, Lauren (June 13, 2014). "'The Fault In Our Stars': Meet Esther Earl, Tragic Real-Life Hazel Grace". Hollywood Life. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Green, John (August 27, 2010). Rest In Awesome, Esther. VlogBrothers. YouTube. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  15. ^ "Wallace State to host Wayne and Lori Earl, the parents of Esther Earl, who inspired "The Fault in Our Stars"". Cullman Times. September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  16. ^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 22, 2014). "Earls bring 'The Fault in Our Stars' to Dana-Farber". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  17. ^ Whitfill, Mary (April 7, 2015). "The late Esther Earl to be honored at Quincy fundraiser". The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  18. ^ Green, John (August 2, 2010). I Love Hank: Esther Day 2010. VlogBrothers. YouTube. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  19. ^ Speller, Katherine (August 3, 2015). "John Green And The Rest Of The Internet Are Having A Lovefest For #EstherDay — And You Should Too". MTV. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  20. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob (July 31, 2014). "Book Buzz: John Green celebrates Esther Day". USA Today. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  21. ^ Driscoll, Molly (August 4, 2014). "Inspired by John Green, bookstores celebrate Esther Day". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  22. ^ Jaworski, Michelle (August 3, 2012). "Nerdfighters come together to celebrate Esther Day". The Daily Dot. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  23. ^ Green, Hank (August 3, 2011). I Love My Brother. VlogBrothers. YouTube. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  24. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob (January 27, 2014). "John Green's 'star' tells her story – posthumously". USA Today. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  25. ^ "John Green Contributes To 'This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl,' Book About Cancer Victim". Huffington Post. March 28, 2013. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  26. ^ a b Lodge, Sally (December 17, 2013). "'This Star Won't Go Out' Celebrates a Young Life". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  27. ^ Nguyen, Vi-an (June 9, 2014). "John Green on Esther Earl, the Girl To Who He Dedicated The Fault in Our Stars To". Parade. Condé Nast. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  28. ^ Messer, Lesley (June 9, 2014). "How Esther Earl, Who Inspired 'The Fault in Our Stars,' Would Have Liked the Film". ABC News. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  29. ^ Green, John (August 2, 2012). "Everybody was told to make a funny face, but I didn't get the memo". Tumblr. Archived from the original on January 10, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2014.