Really puts a new twist to the phrase, “don’t give up until you die.” These five folks did their very best during their lifetimes, but never lived long enough to enjoy the fruits of their labours. For these set of people, life became better for them after they’d gone to the grave.
“How?” You may ask. Well, it’s easy: their inventions, or ideas—or art—made them successful. In no particular order, here are five people who became famous posthumously.
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1. Galileo Galilei.
One of the greatest scientists of all time, you’ve probably heard his name more than once while studying the junior or senior scientists. However, during his lifetime, the Catholic Church desperately persecuted him.
His crime? He built a telescope that proved that the Earth revolved round the Sun, which went against the Earth-centric teachings of the Catholics (Earth is at the centre of the Universe… Blah blah blah). More than once, he was ostracised as being “heretic” and “suspicious”.
He finally got one of his books published in 1638, just four years after his death. In 1668, Isaac Newton builds his own telescope and picks up where Galileo left off.
2. Van Gogh.
Van Gogh famously sold only one painting in his lifetime: the Red Vineyard, completed in 1888. He painted Vineyard two years before he took his own life by shooting himself in the chest at just 37 years. It was during those last two years he painted the vast majority of the work he was known for.
Rumour has it that, at some point he cut off one of his ears to give a woman. This may not actually be true, but it’s easy to assume he was an oddity.
The woman who bought Vineyard, became a prominent art collector, and at her death, ordered all proceeds from the sale of the collection go towards a fund that helped the retirement of artists.
3. Robert Johnson.
Maybe you’ve heard of him. If you’ve not, well… He’s the father of blues music. Yup! You got that right. Which is, you’ll admit, more than you’d expect from a singer who released only two albums, hardly made any money from them, and died as a result of a bar fight.
In a quest to find the father of his birth, he met guitarist Ike Zimmerman. What happens next is weird. Before he left, Johnson was a terrible guitarist by all accounts. Son House and Willie Brown, both incredible musicians in their time, described his playing as “embarrassingly bad”.
So after two years, Johnson returned an incredible guitarist. What happened?
Well, legend goes that he sold his soul at some crossroad in Mississippi to attain his incredible skill. More likely, however, is the fact that Ike Zimmerman probably taught him everything he knew.
Only one of his songs, Terraplane Blues, sold about 5000 copies. After dying in 1939, a compilation of his work, King of the Delta Blues Singers, became hugely popular and inspired a blues revival that spawned the Chicago blues sound. It would be one of the most influential albums ever released.
4. Edgar Allan Poe.
An impoverished writer not making lots of money is nothing new, but it might surprise you that a writer as influential as Edgar Allan Poe spent his life scraping by. After being discharged from the army, he spent a few years bouncing editorial jobs while trying to get his work published. The Raven was perhaps his greatest known published work, but he only made $9 from it.
Poe was better known as a critic during his lifetime, often getting into conflicts with contemporary poets, and authors.
However, after his death, his work spread due to French translations by Charles Baudelaire. `Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, widely known for writing the Sherlock Holmes series, was quoted, “Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?”
Anyhow, if this teaches you anything, anything at all, it is that you NEVER give up… Until you’re dead?