30 Responses

  1. Lou
    Lou at |

    Re: Poe

    He was actually quite well-known by the general public, if constantly hard up for money. "The Raven" made him so. During the last part of his life, he often supported himself with public recitals of it.

    He did, however, become POPULAR after death.

  2. Andrei
    Andrei at |

    You missed one. Ever hear of Jesus? His death made him pretty famous.

    1. TopTenz Master
      TopTenz Master at |

      Andrei – Good call. Hard to believe we overlooked Jesus.

      1. Girishan Karthik
        Girishan Karthik at |

        Really much of the facts written and understood about Jesus is still contradicting… If we go my bible the list will go on from Moses to Muhammad… Lets confine it to people whose work is based on rational science and art!!!

  3. Tom
    Tom at |

    Very interesting list. It really shows how, especially in the worlds of art and science, the visionaries and those who change the course of human thought are only truly recognized through the lens of history.

  4. Vale
    Vale at |

    Ummm… I think Galileo should have been higher on the list… like second or so.

  5. Keith Watabayashi
    Keith Watabayashi at |

    Jesus doesn't make the list, as he was quite well known during his life, so much so he was executed by the powers that be. How about Socrates? Absolutely NOTHING about his life, his biography, or anything like that. We only know about him through Plato and other students who wrote about him after he died.

    1. Ash
      Ash at |

      Socrates would have been a good addition. Thanks Keith 🙂

    2. fragge
      fragge at |

      Jesus wasn't really well known, there are no historical records for him, despite numerous other mentionings of other self-proclaimed messiahs and similar prophets/charlatans. The only thing that comes close doesn't reference his name, and is likely a forgery since it only appeared in the re-published editions after 1400 or whenever that dastardly spaniard re-published it..

  6. Meme
    Meme at |

    What about Anne Frank

    1. Christopher
      Christopher at |

      I agree…Anne Frank should certainly be on that list!

  7. Guyver
    Guyver at |

    What about Emmit Till?

  8. Parker
    Parker at |

    Karl Marx?

    1. Elizabeth
      Elizabeth at |


    2. Vishal Sathyan
      Vishal Sathyan at |

      Karl Marx was well known during his lifetime itself.

  9. Mayra
    Mayra at |

    I think that the reason for El Greco to paint in that particular way was he suffered of astigmatism, which caused him to see elongated figures, not necessarily for wanting to leave a unique style.

  10. Michael Barratt
    Michael Barratt at |

    All these wonderful humans who give us so great delight. and richness. I can only think of One who, like Charles spurgeon, one would have on their grave stone,”Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”

  11. Sam I Am
    Sam I Am at |

    Anne Frank. Absolutely.

  12. Raymond127
    Raymond127 at |

    Nice list. Made me very sad in a way, that these people never knew the impact they would eventually have. How ’bout Nietzsche? I guess that one is how you look at it. He spent the last eleven years of his life in a catatonic state, aware of nothing and no one. But it was during that time that his fame came into being. While he was sane, only a few academic types had ever uttered a word about him. He got to see just the very beggining of his fame, the first little hint of it. Right before his breakdown, he found out a class on one of his recent works was being taught at some or other university, I forget where. Some rare professor that loved his ideas.
    Even more tragic, because as far as I know he had absolutely no idea of his eventual fame, is the case of the great John Kennedy Toole. His novel A Confederacy of Dunces is a book I’d recommend to anyone. It’s hysterical, sad, thought-provoking, silly, philosophical, absurdist, and ultimately hopeful. Too bad Toole couldn’t have hung in there a bit longer. He killed himself after a bunch of rejections. His mom found the rejected novel and fought to have it published. His case breaks my heart when I think of it. He had so much more to offer, but he gave up. I hope on some level, somehow, he knows the joy he’s given people.

  13. Mayra
    Mayra at |

    I went to an exposition of El Greco´s work once and we were told that one of the reasons El Greco´s style is so particular (elongated figures) is because he suffered of astigmatism, and such visual deviation made his perspective differ from reality, apart from his obvious desire to be remembered throughout History.

  14. J in Japan
    J in Japan at |

    It’s a common misconception that Galileo’s theories were rejected because of religious beliefs. That is only partly true. The church was relying on the scientific consensus of the time when they rejected Galileo. That is, it wasn’t the church so much that rejected Galileo’s theories as it was his fellow scientists. Galileo wasn’t a very sociable person, and so the other scientists didn’t cut him any slack at all, probably because he was pretty constantly calling them idiots.

  15. Peter Boucher
    Peter Boucher at |

    How about Johann Sebastian Bach

    1. Peter Boucher
      Peter Boucher at |

      Bach died in 1750 and his music was completely forgotten for decades until the great composer Felix Mendelssohn and his orchestra performed Bach’s B Minor Mass in the late 1820’s to an audience that was stunned and in disbelief as to how beautiful it was and as to who this Bach guy was. That began the resurrection of his music and today, many musical experts and historians regard him as the greatest composer whoever lived. From a mathematical standpoint, his music is perfect.

  16. Iacopo
    Iacopo at |

    Great list, indeed. But with a considerable mistake: Galileo Galilei became internationally famous a long time before his death. Precisely in 1610 with the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius, regarded as a masterpiece by all European astronomers of the time.

  17. Saji Kumar
    Saji Kumar at |

    Notable omission.. Anne Frank.

    Anne Frank, victim of the Holocaust, most well-known for the diary she kept while in hiding which has since become one of the world’s most widely read books.

  18. Julian Durkin
    Julian Durkin at |

    But… but…

    Sylvia Plath.

  19. Laura
    Laura at |

    I am thinking Helen Keller is an absolute perfect person to add to this list. If you don’t know who she is then its worth it to read about her. I love who she is and what she stands for. My fondest thought of her is in her silent dark voice I feel I can see and hear her light. She is an example to us All. No matter who we are we can be strengthened by her. May God bless us all in our positive endeavors.

    1. Vishal Sathyan
      Vishal Sathyan at |

      Helen Keller was very famous during her lifetime, and she was added to the list of the most powerful women ever in 1965, three years before she died.

  20. vdfvdsvdsv
    vdfvdsvdsv at |

    You just tottaly forgot poor Anne Frank…. She deserver to be #1

  21. Louis
    Louis at |

    Hello everyone!

    Just a quick question, Im currently starting my 3rd year of university. I’m about to start my dissertation does anyone know of any (specifically) photographers who became famous after death? I have a small list but need a few more people.

    Many Thanks!!


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