I collected over 24 lists of “Most Important People”, “Most Important Historical Figures”, Most Influential People” or “People Who Changed the World” from the Internet and books and combined them into one meta-list. The results are below – every person on at least three of the original source lists, organized by rank (i.e., with the people on the most lists at the top). People on the same number of lists are organized chronologically by date of birth. Each entry includes: (1) name; (2) birth and death dates; (3) country; and (4) a brief description of the person and their accomplishments.
On 24 Lists
ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955) Germany/US. Theoretical physicist. The special and general theories of relativity. The photoelectric effect. Brownian motion. E=mc2. E=hf. Einstein field equations. Bose–Einstein statistics. Bose–Einstein condensate. Gravitational wave. Cosmological constant. Unified field theory. EPR paradox. Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1916). Ideas and Opinions (1954). Nobel Prize in Physics (1921).
Albert Einstein in Vienna in 1921. Photo by F. Schmutzer.
On 22 Lists
MOHANDAS K. GANDHI (Mahatma Gandhi) (1869-1948) India. Leader of Indian independence movement. Advocate of non-violent civil disobedience (ahisma). Led the Salt March protest (1930). Satyagraha. Brahmacharya. Swaraj (self-rule). Sarvodaya. Hind Swaraj, or Indian Home Rule (1909). The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1925-1928). Assassinated.
Gandhi leading the Salt March in 1930.
On 21 Lists
ISAAC NEWTON (1643-1727) England (now UK: England). Physicist, mathematician and inventor. Laid the foundation of classical mechanics, which formed the basis of physical science until Einstein. Formulated universal laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Demonstrated how these laws explained both the motion of planets and comets and objects on Earth. Invented a form of the calculus. Generalized the binomial series and developed a method for approximating the roots of a function. Developed a theory of color based on the light spectrum. Propounded a particle theory of light. Invented the first practical reflecting telescope. Proposed that Earth was an oblate spheroid. Calculated the speed of sound. Introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. Formulated an empirical law of cooling. Member of Parliament (1689-1690, 1701-1702). President of the Royal Society (1703-1727). Warden (1696-1700) and Master (1700-1727) of the Royal Mint. Writings include: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687); Opticks (1704); and Arithmetica Universalis (1707).
This portrait of Sir Isaac Newton was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1689, when Newton was 46. It is on display at Farleigh House, Somerset, UK.
CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882) UK: England. Biologist, naturalist and geologist. Developed theory of evolution by means of natural selection. His book On the Origin of Species (1859) set out with abundant evidence the mechanism of evolution. Proposed that all living things have a single common ancestor. Also studied: human evolution; sexual selection; barnacles; the formation of atolls; phototropism in plants; and the role of earthworms in soil formation. Served as naturalist for HMS Beagle on five-year voyage (1831-1836). Appointed Secretary, Royal Geological Society (1838). Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1839). Other works include: The Voyage of the Beagle (1839); The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (1842); Fertilisation of Orchids (1862); The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (1868); The Descent of Man (1871); The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872); The Power of Movement in Plants (1880); and The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms (1881).
A photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull and John Fox, probably taken in 1854.
KARL MARX (1818-1883) Kingdom of Prussia (now Germany)/France/ Belgium/UK: England. Political philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, journalist and social revolutionary. Originator of Marxism and communism. Known for: materialism; surplus value; class struggle; labor theory of value; alienation and exploitation of labor; and the materialist conception of history. Co-editor, Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher (1843-1844). Co-founder, the Communist League (1847). Publisher and editor, Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-1849). Correspondent, New-York Daily Tribune (1852-1862). Elected to General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association (1864). Works include: The Holy Family (1844) (with Friedrich Engels); The German Ideology (1846, pub. 1932); The Poverty of Philosophy (1847); The Communist Manifesto (1848) (with Friedrich Engels); A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1959); Capital (Das Kapital) (3 vols., 1867-1883).
A photograph of Karl Marx, taken about 1875, which is now at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.
On 20 Lists
JESUS OF NAZARETH (c. 4 BCE-c. 30 CE) Roman Empire (Judea) now Israel/Palestine). Itinerant preacher. Central figure of Christianity. His story is told in The New Testament (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Crucified by the Roman Empire.
Mosaic of Jesus Christ from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, from the late 13th Century.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1451-1506) Republic of Genoa (now Italy). Explorer, navigator and conqueror. Led four Spanish-sponsored round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas (1492-1504). First European to reach the West Indies, leading to lasting contact between Europe and the Americas. Began conquest of America on behalf of the Spanish Empire and established first Spanish colonies in the New World. Accused of rape, torture, killing and enslavement of indigenous people. Governor of the Indies (1492-1499). Removed from governorship in 1500 upon accusations of use of torture and mutilation. Writings: Book of Privileges (1502); Book of Prophecies (1505). To his death, he believed he had sailed to the Far East.
Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1519, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
LEONARDO DA VINCI (Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci) (1452-519) Republic of Florence (now Italy). Artist, engineer, mathematician, anatomist, botanist, geologist and cartographer. Studied human anatomy and fossils. Designed a parachute; a helicopter; an armored vehicle; an adding machine; a double-hulled ship; automated bobbin winder; and a wire-strength testing machine. Writings: Notebooks. Artworks include: The Adoration of the Magi (1481-1482); Virgin of the Rocks (I) (1483-1486); Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490); The Last Supper (1495-1498); Mona Lisa (1503-1505); Virgin of the Rocks (II) (1495-1508); and The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (c. 1508-1510). Lived and worked in Italy and France.
A portrait of Leonardo da Vinci by Francesco Melzi, from after 1510. It is located in the Royal Library at Windsor, UK.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616) England (now UK: England). Playwright, poet and actor. Plays include: Two Gentlemen of Verona (1589-1591); The Taming of the Shrew (1590-1591); Richard III (1592-1593); A Comedy of Errors (1594); Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594-1595); Romeo and Juliet (1595); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595); Richard II (1595); The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597); Henry IV, Part I (1596-1597); The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597); Henry IV, Part II (1597-1598); Much Ado about Nothing (1598-1599); Henry V (1599); Julius Caesar (1599); As You Like It (1599-1600); Hamlet (1599-1601); Twelfth Night (1601); Othello (1603-1604); Measure for Measure (1603-1604); All’s Well That Ends Well (1604-1605); King Lear (1605-1606); Macbeth (1606); Antony and Cleopatra (1606); Coriolanus (1608); The Winter’s Tale (1609-1611); and The Tempest (1610-1611). Poetry: Sonnets (1609).
A 1610 portrait of a man many believe to be William Shakespeare, probably painted by John Taylor. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821) France. Military and political leader. Commanded troops that put down royalist rebellion on behalf of French Revolutionary government (1795). Led French army against Italy and Austria and conquered northern Italy (1796-1797). Invaded Egypt (1798). Overthrew the Directory in a coup d’état and became First Consul of France (1799). Returned to Italy to fight the Austrians. Signed temporary peace treaty with Great Britain. Sent troops in unsuccessful attempt to put down slave rebellion in Saint-Domingue, which became the nation of Haiti in 1804. Crowned himself Emperor of the French Empire (1804). Defeated the Third Coalition at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805). Defeated the Prussians at Jena and Auerstedt (1806). Invaded Portugal and Spain (1807). Invaded Russia (1812); despite a victory at the Battle of Borodino, the French were forced to retreat. Suffered major loss to the Sixth Coalition in the Battle of Leipzig (1813). France surrendered to the Coalition in March 1814. Forced to abdicate and exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba (1814). Escaped from Elba, returned to France and raised an army; declared Emperor again (1815). Defeated by Coalition armies at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). Exiled to St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps, by Jacques-Louis David (1801). The painting is located at the Château de Malmaison in Rueil-Malmaison, France.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865) US. Attorney and political leader. Practicing attorney (1837-1860). Member, Illinois House of Representative (1834-1842). US House of Representatives (1847-1849). Helped organize the Republican Party of Illinois (1856). Ran unsuccessfully for Senate against Stephen Douglas; Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858). Elected 16th US president (Republican, 1861-1865); re-elected in 1864. His election triggered the secession of Southern states. Commander-in-Chief of the Union during the US Civil War. Issued Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved African Americans in the rebel states (1862, took effect January 1, 1863). Gave Gettysburg Address (Nov. 19, 1863). Successfully advocated for the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolishing slavery (1864-1865). Gave second inaugural address (March 4, 1865). Other laws passed during his presidency include: the Homestead Act (1862); Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (1862); and the Pacific Railway Acts (1862, 1864) (which led to the first transcontinental railroad). Assassinated by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
A daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln in 1863, taken by Alexander Gardner.
ADOLF HITLER (1889-1945) Austria/Germany. Founder of National Socialist movement (Nazis). Chancellor, then dictator of Germany during Third Reich (1933-1945). Invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia. Invasion of Poland in September 1939 started World War II (1939-1945). Architect of Jewish genocide (the Holocaust). Mein Kampf (1925-1926). Committed suicide at the time of German defeat (April 1945).
Adolf Hitler in 1937.
On 19 Lists
ARISTOTLE (384-322 BCE) Ancient Greece (Chalkidiki)/Macedonian Empire. Philosopher and scientist. Created comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Founded the Lyceum (335 BCE) in Athens, where he taught. Early theory and observation in all fields of science and medicine. Doctrines include: realism; the golden mean; the four causes; and scala naturae. Objected to democracy. Works (all dated 335-323 BCE) include: Nicomachean Ethics; Poetics; Metaphysics; Politics; Physics; Rhetoric; History of Animals; Generation of Animals; Movement of Animals; Parts of Animals; and On the Soul (De Anima).
Bust of Aristotle in National Museum of Rome. Roman marble copy of Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BCE. The alabaster mantle is a more recent addition.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT (Alexander III of Macedon) (356-323 BCE) Macedonia (now Greece). Military general and political leader. King of Macedonia (336-323 BCE). Built vast empire in Europe and Asia through military conquest and diplomacy. Conquered Egypt and became Pharaoh of Egypt (332-323 BCE). Conquered Persian empire after defeating Darius III at battles of Issus (333 BCE) and Guagamela (331 BCE) and became King of Persia (330-323 BCE). Invaded Indian subcontinent.
Portrait of Alexander the Great from floor mosaic found in Pompeii, Italy, dating from 100 BCE, probably a copy of an earlier Greek painting. Now in Naples National Archaeological Museum.
GALILEO GALILEI (1564-1642) Duchy of Florence (now Italy). Physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and engineer. Promoted scientific experimentation and the scientific method. Championed Copernicus’s heliocentric model and confirmed it through astronomical observations. Derived the laws of falling bodies. Improved the telescope. Invented the thermoscope and military compasses. First observed and described the moons of Jupiter, sunspots, and the phases of Venus. Writings include: Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) (1610); Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632); and Two New Sciences (1638). After publishing the Dialogue, which appeared to support the heliocentric model, he was tried by the Roman Catholic Inquisition, found to be “suspect of heresy” and forced to recant. He remained under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans, from 1636. It is located in the National Maritime Museum, London.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799) British America/US. Military and political leader. Plantation owner. Successful military officer, French and Indian War (1754-1758). Member, Virginia House of Burgesses (1758-1776). Virginia delegate to Continental Congress (1774-1775). Appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army (1775). Led US armies to victory over Great Britain in the American Revolution (1775-1783). Battles and campaigns included: Siege of Boston (1775); Battle of Long Island (1776); Battle of Trenton (1776); Battle of Princeton (1776); Battle of Monmouth (1778); and the Siege of Yorktown (1781). Presided over Constitutional Convention (1787). Served two four-year terms as 1st US president (1789-1796). Created executive departments and appointment members of the first cabinet. Put down the Whiskey Rebellion (1794). Established US neutrality in European conflicts. Signed the Fugitive Slave Act (1793). In his Farewell Address (1796), he warned against regionialism, partisanship, and foreign entanglements.
Gilbert Stuart’s 1797 portrait of George Washington, which can be seen in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
THOMAS EDISON (1847-1931) US. Inventor, researcher and entrepreneur. Prolific inventor, holding over 1000 U.S. patents. Early inventions included an electronic vote tabulator and a quadruplex telegraph that could send four messages at once. Established the first industrial research laboratory at Menlo Park, NJ (1876). Major inventions include the phonograph, the movie camera and projector (with William K. Dickson), the incandescent light bulb, the stock ticker, and the carbon microphone. Formed Edison Electric Light Company (1878) to produce and sell incandescent light bulbs. Founded the Edison Illuminating Company (1880) and established the first investor-owned electric utility, which provided 110 direct current (DC) volts to 59 customers in lower Manhattan (1882); this was the first large-scale electrical power distribution system. Established a botanical research facility in Florida to develop a local source of latex rubber. Other inventions include the fluoroscope, which takes radiographs using X-rays, and the tasimeter, which measures infrared radiation. He was a pioneer of the American film industry, establishing the first American movie studio (Black Maria in West Orange, NJ) and producing nearly 1,200 films (including 54 feature films) between 1894 and 1918. He and Dickson invented the Kinetoscope for individual viewing of films; the first Kinetoscope parlor opened in New York City in 1894. Films include: Fred Ott’s Sneeze (1894); The Kiss (1896); The Great Train Robbery (1903); and Frankenstein (1910). During World War I, when European chemical imports were cut off, his plant in Silver Lake, NJ produced phenol for use in making explosives, plastic and aspirin.
A 1922 photograph of Thomas Edison by Louis Bachrach.
SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939) Austria. Scientist, psychiatrist and philosopher. Developer of psychoanalysis. Free association. Transference. Oedipus complex. Id, ego and super-ego. Repression. Unconscious. Seduction theory. Oral, anal and phallic phases. Studies on Hysteria (with Josef Breuer) (1895). The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901). Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious(1905). Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905). Totem and Taboo (1913). “The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement” (1914). “Mourning and Melancholia” (1917). “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920). Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921). The Ego and the Id (1923). The Future of an Illusion (1927). Civilization and its Discontents (1930). Moses and Monotheism (1937).
A photograph of Sigmund Freud from about 1900.
MARIE CURIE (1867-1934) Poland/France. Scientist. Discovered radioactive elements radium and polonium. Coined term radioactivity. Developed methods for isolating radioactive isotopes. Radioactive Substances (1904). Nobel Prizes in Physics (1903) and Chemistry (1911).
Marie Curie in 1920.
On 18 Lists
NELSON MANDELA (1918-2013 ) South Africa. Political leader. Anti-apartheid activist jailed by South African government. First democratically-elected president of post-apartheid South Africa. Long Walk to Freedom (1994). Nobel Peace Prize (1993).
Nelson Mandela casting his ballot for president of South Africa in 1994.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1929-1968) US. Minister and leader of US civil rights movement. I Have a Dream speech (1963). Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963). Nobel Peace Prize (1964). Assassinated.
Martin Luther King in 1964.
On 17 lists
PLATO (428-347 BCE) Ancient Greece (Athens). Philosopher and writer. Founded the Academy in Athens (385 BCE), where he taught. Originated Platonism. Doctrines included: idealism; theory of forms; the allegory of the cave; the philosopher-king. Works include: Apology (c. 399-390 BCE). Crito (c. 399-390 BCE). Meno (c. 388-367 BCE). Phaedo (c. 388-367 BCE). Symposium (c. 388-367 BCE). The Republic (c. 388-367 BCE).
Bust of Plato in the Centrale Montemartini, Vatican City. Roman copy of a Greek original by Silanion from 428 BCE.
LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895) France. Chemist and microbiologist. Made important discoveries about racemization, crystal asymmetry, and optical isomers (1848). Identified the mechanism of fermentation and invented the pasteurization process (1857-1865.) Developed and proved the germ theory of disease. Disproved spontaneous generation of life through experiments. Improved vaccination techniques using artificially-weakened bacteria. Used vaccines to fight cholera, anthrax and rabies. “In the field of observation, chance only favors the prepared mind.” Established Pasteur Institute (1887) and served as its director. Works include: Studies on Wine (1866); Studies on Vinegar (1868); Studies on Silk Worm Disease (1870); Some Reflections on Science in France (1871); Studies on Beer (1876); Microbes Organized… (1878); and Treatment of Rabies (1886).
An undated photograph of Louis Pasteur, taken by Nadar.
JOSEPH STALIN (1879-1953) USSR. Political leader. Led Soviet Union to victory over Germany in World War II. Conducted the Great Purge of political enemies. Collectivized farming, leading to famine.
Joseph Stalin in 1943.
On 16 Lists
CONFUCIUS (551-479 BCE) China. Philosopher. Founder of Confucianism, the dominant ethical and philosophical ideology of China for much of its history. Espoused the Golden Rule (“do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself”). The Analects (attrib.) (c. 475-221 BCE). Lived during Spring and Autumn period (c. 771-476 BCE).
Tang Dynasty painting of Confucius by Wu Daozi (c. 618-907 CE).
JULIUS CAESAR (Gaius Julius Caesar) (100-44 BCE) Ancient Rome (now Italy). Political and military leader. Established dynasty that ruled for the next century. Instrumental in Rome’s change from republic to empire. Formed First Triumvvirate with Crassus and Pompey (60 BCE). Conquered Gaul and brought it under Roman rule (51 BCE). Also conquered Britain and parts of Germany. Consul of the Roman Republic (59-58, 48-47, 46-45, 44 BCE). Defied the Senate and crossed the Rubicon with his army, beginning civil war (49 BCE). Dictator of the Roman Republic (49-44 BCE). Defeated Pompey to win civil war (48 BCE). Supported Cleopatra in Egyptian civil war (47 BCE). Adopted Julian Calendar (45 BCE). Named his grandnephew, Gaius Octavius (Octavian, later Augustus) as his heir (45 BCE). Named dictator for life (February, 44 BCE). His assassination on the Ides of March, 44 BCE led to a second civil war.
Bust of Julius Caesar in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It is a 110 CE copy of a 50 BCE original.
MUHAMMAD (570-632 CE) Arabia (now Saudi Arabia). Religious, political and military leader. Founder of Islam, a monotheistic religion. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet of the true religion who was sent to follow other prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Led hegira (hijra) from Mecca to Medina (622 CE). Authored Constitution of Medina (622 CE). With an army of 10,000 Muslim converts, he marched on Mecca and conquered it in the name of Islam (629 CE). By the time of his death, he had united Arabia into a single Muslim political entity. The Qur’an (c. 632 CE), the holiest book of Islam, is said to consist of revelations of God received by Muhammad.
The name of Muhammad written in Arabic calligraphy.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546) County of Mansfeld, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany). Priest, monk, theologian, scholar and composer. Leader of Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church. Founder of Lutheranism. Rejected the authority of the Pope, the practice of indulgences, and the doctrine of priestly celibacy. Taught that salvation was based on grace and faith and cannot be earned by good deeds. Taught that the Bible was the only source of divinely revealed knowledge. Excommunicated by Pope Leo X after appearing before the Diet of Worms (1521). Translated the Bible into German (1522 [New Testament]; 1534 [Old Testament]). Wrote: The Ninety-Five Theses (Disputation on the Power of Indulgence) (1517). Composed hymns, including: Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) and Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in death’s bondage).
A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder from around 1530. It is located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
HENRY FORD (1863–1947) US. Industrialist and business leader. Founder, Ford Motor Company (1903). Developed assembly line method of production to manufacture automobiles. Ford Model T (1908-1927).
Henry Ford in 1919.
WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965) UK. Political leader and historian. British Prime Minister during World War II (1940-1945). A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958). Nobel Prize in Literature (1953).
Winston Churchill giving the “V for Victory” sign in 1940.
MAO ZEDONG (1893-1976) China. Military and political leader and political philosopher. Led Communist Revolution against Nationalist China (1927-1949). Joined with Nationalists to fight Japan in World War II. First leader of People’s Republic of China (1949-1976). Maoism. Marxism. New Democracy. People’s War. Mass line. Three Worlds Theory. Agrarian socialism. Strategic Problems of China’s Revolutionary War (1936).On Guerilla Warfare (1937). On Practice (1937). On Contradiction (1937). On Protracted War (1938). On New Democracy (1940). Dialectical Materialism (1940). Serve the People (1944). Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (1964).
The large portrait of Mao Zedong by Ge Xioguang in Beijing’s Tianenmen Square is 15 feet wide and 20 feet tall.
On 15 Lists
THE BUDDHA (Gautama Buddha; Siddhartha Gautama) (c. 563-483 BCE) Nepal/India. Philosopher and religious leader. Founder of Buddhism. The Middle Way. Dhyana. Impermanence. Dependent origination. Liberating insight. Sutta Pitkata (attrib.) (including Khuddaka Nikaya/Dhammapada) (29 BCE).
A statue of the Buddha preaching the law, from Sarnath, India (4th Century CE).
MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI (1475-1564) Italy. Renaissance sculptor, painter and architect. Battle of the Centaurs (1491-1492). Madonna of the Stairs (1491-1492). Bacchus (1496-1497). Pieta (1498-1499). David (1501-1504). Frescoes, Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512). Moses (Tomb of Pope Julius II) (1513-1515). The Rebellious Slave (1513-1516). Medici Chapel (Sagrestia Nuova) (1520-1534). The Last Judgment (1534-1541). Piazza del Campidoglio (1536-1546). Laurentian Library (1525-1571). St. Peter’s Basilica (1506-1626).
Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti by Jacopino del Conte from 1535. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Germany. Composer and musician. Moonlight Sonata (1801). Fifth Symphony (1808). Ninth Symphony “Choral” (1824). Late String Quartets and Grosse Fuge (1824-1826).
Portrait of Beethoven composing the Missa Solemnis, by Joseph Karl Stieler, from 1820. It may be seen at Beethoven-Haus, in Bonn, Germany.
VLADIMIR LENIN (born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) (1870-1924) Russia/USSR. Political philosopher, revolutionary and political leader. Developed theoretical basis for Marxist-Leninist Communism. Led Bolshevik uprising during Russian Revolution. First leader of the Soviet Union. What Is To Be Done? (1902).
Vladimir Lenin in 1920.
On 14 Lists
GENGHIS KHAN (Temujin) (c. 1162-1227) Mongolia. Political and military leader. Founder of Mongol Empire. Conquered portions of China. Probably died in battle.
Genghis Khan, as depicted in a 14th Century album of Yuan emperors, which is now in the National Palace Museum of Taipei.
JOHANNES GUTENBERG (c. 1395-1468) Germany. Printer and publisher. Invented the printing press and movable type printing in the West. The Gutenberg Bible (1455?).
A portrait of Johannes Gutenberg made shortly after his death in 1468.
ELIZABETH I (1533-1603) UK. Protestant Queen of England (1558-1603). Final Tudor monarch. Expanded British power. Defeated Spanish Armada.
Portrait of Elizabeth I from 1575, known as The Darnley Portrait. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706-1790) US. Revolutionary leader, diplomat, scientist, inventor, publisher and writer. Poor Richard’s Almanack (1732-1758). Invented bifocals, Franklin stove, lightning rod. Made discoveries about electricity and lightning. Co-founder, The Academy and College of Philadelphia (later University of Pennsylvania) (1749). First U.S. Postmaster General (1775). Envoy/Ambassador to France (1776-1785). Governor of Pennsylvania (1785-1788). Delegate, Constitutional Convention (1787). Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791).
A portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis from about 1785. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Spain/France. Innovative modernist painter and sculptor. Developed Cubism with Georges Braque. Blue Nude (1902). The Old Guitarist (1903). La Vie (1903). Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1910). The Accordionist (1911). Three Musicians (1921). Girl Before A Mirror (1932). The Weeping Woman (1937). Guernica (1937). Las Meninas (after Velázquez) (series) (1957).
Pablo Picasso in 1908 or 1909.
On 13 Lists
SOCRATES (c. 470-399 BCE) Ancient Greece. Skeptical philosopher known mostly through the writings of his student Plato. “All I know is that I know nothing.” Rationalism. Persistent critical reflection. Socratic method. His trial and death sentence are described in Plato’s Apology (c. 399-390 BCE).
Bust of Socrates in the Louvre, Paris. Probably a 1st Century CE Roman marble copy of Greek bronze original by Lysippos.
AUGUSTUS CAESAR (formerly Octavian) (63 BCE-14 CE) Ancient Rome. Military and political leader. First Roman Emperor. Instituted Pax Romana.
A statue of Augustus from the 1st Century CE, known as the Augustus of Prima Porta. It is now in the Chiaramonti Museum, Vatican City.
JOAN OF ARC (Jeanne d’Arc) (1412-1431) France. Military leader and religious figure. Led France to numerous victories during Hundred Years War. Burned at the stake for heresy.
A portrait of Joan of Arc taken from a 1505 illustrated manuscript.
NICOLAUS COPERNICUS (1473-1543) Royal Prussia (now Poland). Astronomer and mathematician. Developed heliocentric model of the solar system. Copernicus’ Law. Copernican principle. On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres (1543).
A 1580 posthumous portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus. It is located in the Town Hall of Toruń, Poland.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1847-1922) UK: Scotland/Canada/US. Scientist, inventor, engineer and educator of the deaf. Credited with inventing first practical telephone, the photophone and the metal detector.
A photograph of Alexander Graham Bell taken at Moffett Studio between 1914 and 1919. It is now part of the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) US. Statesman and politician. Longest serving US president, through Great Depression and World War II. The New Deal.
Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Lend-Lease Act in 1941.
ELVIS PRESLEY (1935-1977) US. Musician, performer and actor. Popularized rock and roll music. Mystery Train (1955). Heartbreak Hotel (1956). Don’t Be Cruel (1956).
Elvis Presley at his 1968 “comeback” concert.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826) US. American revolutionary, diplomat, political leader, inventor, and architect. Principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). First U.S. Secretary of State (1790-1793). 3rd U.S. president (1801-1808). Authorized Louisiana Purchase (1803). Founded University of Virginia (1819). Architectural designs include: Virginia State Capitol (1788) (with Charles-Louis Clérisseau). Addition, George Divers House (1802-1803). Monticello (1768–1809). Charlotte County Courthouse (1822-1823). Poplar Forest (1806–1826). Academical Village, University of Virginia (1817-1826).
This 1800 portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale hangs in the White House, Washington, D.C.
On 11 Lists
ARCHIMEDES (c. 287-212 BCE) Ancient Greece. Philosopher, mathematician, scientist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor. Developed hydrostatics, statics and the lever principle. Invented siege engines and screw pump (Archimedes screw). Archimedes’ principle. The mathematical precursors to calculus, including infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion. The planetarium. The war catapult. Claw of Archimedes. On the Equilibrium of Planes. On the Measurement of a Circle. On Spirals. On the Sphere and the Cylinder. On Floating Bodies. The Quadrature of the Parabola. The Sand Reckoner. The Method of Mechanical Theorems.
A painting of Archimedes by Domenico Fetti, from 1620.
PAUL THE APOSTLE (formerly Saul of Tarsus) (c. 5-67 CE) Asia Minor (now Turkey). Early Christian leader and missionary. Letters of Paul.
A portrait of Paul the Apostle by Bartolomeo Montagna, from 1482. It is now in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan.
CONSTANTINE THE GREAT (272-337 CE) Roman Empire. Military and political leader. Roman Emperor. Converted to Christianity. Founded Constantinople.
A bust of Constantine the Great from the 4th Century CE. It is now in the Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican City.
ADAM SMITH (1723-1790) UK: Scotland. Philosopher and political economist. The Wealth of Nations (1776).
A portrait of Adam Smith. This is a 19th Century etching based on a 1787 medallion by James Tassie.
VICTORIA I (Queen Victoria) (1819-1901) UK. Political leader and queen of United Kingdom and British Empire. Longest reigning British monarch (1837-1901) until surpassed by Elizabeth II in 2015.
A photograph of Queen Victoria from 1887, by Alexander Bassano.
JOHN F. KENNEDY (1917-1963) US. 35th US president (1961-1963). Engaged in Cold War with USSR, including Cuban missile crisis (1962). Set goal for man to walk on the Moon. Started Peace Corps. Assassinated.
John F. Kennedy speaking to Congress in 1961.
On 10 Lists
CLEOPATRA (Cleopatra VII Philopator) (c. 69-30 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Political leader. Last Pharoah of the Ptolemy Dynasty. Used relationships with Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Marc Antony to solidify her grip on the throne and strengthen Egyptian empire.
A 1663 depiction of Cleopatra committing suicide with an asp, by Cesare Gennari.
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR (c. 1028-1087) Normandy (now France)/England (now UK: England). Military and political leader. Led Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England and became first Norman king of England. Possibly killed in battle.
A depiction of William the Conqueror in battle, lifting his helmet to show he was still alive, part of the Bayeaux Tapestry, from the late 11th Century.
MARCO POLO (c. 1254-1324) Venice (now Italy). Explorer. Improved trade between Europe and the Far East. Spread knowledge of Asia. The Travels of Marco Polo (c. 1300).
Portrait of Marco Polo, possibly from the 16th Century.
RENÉ DESCARTES (1596-1650) France/Dutch Republic. Philosopher, mathematician, philosopher of science, and writer. “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”). The scientific method. Analytic geometry. Calculus. The law of refraction. Cartesianism. Rationalism. Cartesian dualism. Mathematical method. Method of normals. Cartestian coordinate system. Foundationalism. Dream argument. Conservation of momentum. Wax argument. The World (1629-1633, pub. 1662, 1664). Discourse on Method (1637). La Géométrie (1637). Meditations on First Philosophy (1641). Principles of Philosophy (1644). Passions of the Soul (1649).(on 10 lists)
A late 17th Century copy of Franz Hals’ 1649 portrait of René Descartes. It is located in the Louvre, Paris.
VOLTAIRE (pen name of François-Marie Arouet) (1694–1778) France/Switzerland. Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher. Deism. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Separation of church and state. Letters Concerning the English Nation (1734). Elements of the Philosophy of Newton (1745). Zadig (1747). Essays on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations (1756). Candide (1759).
Philosophical Dictionary (1764).
A portrait of Voltaire by Nicolas de Largillière from 1724-1725. It is located at the Palace of Versailles in France.
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) Switzerland/France. Enlightenment author, philosopher and social reformer. Social contract theory. Romanticism. General will. Child-centered learning. Popular sovereignty. Positive liberty. Amour de soi/amour-propre. Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750). The Social Contract (1762). Émile, or On Education (1762). The Confessions (1781).
A portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Maurice Quentin de la Tour between 1750 and 1775. It is located in the Musée Antoine Lécuyer in Saint Germaine, France.
CATHERINE THE GREAT (1729–1796) Russia. Political leader. Empress of Russia (1762-1796). Made Russia stronger and larger.
A portrait of Catherine the Great by Fyodor Rokotov in 1763. It is now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) Austria. Musician and composer. Piano Concerto No. 20 (1785). The Marriage of Figaro (1786). Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787). Symphony No. 40 (1788).
This portrait of Mozart is taken from a group portrait of his family, painted by Johann Nepomuk Della Croce in 1780 or 1781. The painting hangs in the Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
SIMÓN BOLÍVAR (1783-1830) Venezuela. Military and political leader in struggle for Latin American independence. President, Gran Columbia (now Venezuela, Colombia, Panamá and Ecuador) (1819-1830). First president of Peru (1824).
A portrait of Simón Bolívar. This is a late 19th or early 20th Century copy of an original work made before 1830.
JOHN LENNON (1940–1980) UK/US. Musician, songwriter, performer, political activist and writer. Member of The Beatles. In My Life (1965). All You Need Is Love (1967). Revolution (1968). Imagine (1971). Murdered.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1980. Photo by Jack Mitchell.
On 9 Lists
MOSES (c. 1500-1400 BCE) Egypt/Judea. Legendary religious leader and prophet of the Israelites. Book of Exodus.
Rembrandt’s Moses with the Ten Commandments (1659).
CHARLEMAGNE (c. 747-814 CE) Frankish Kingdom (now France). Military and political leader. King of the Franks, King of the Lombards and first Holy Roman Emperor.
A depiction of Charlemagne and his illegitimate son, Pippin the Hunchback. This is a 10th Century copy of an early 9th Century original.
OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658) UK. Military and political leader. After winning civil war, helped overthrow and execute English king Charles I. Became Lord Protector of Puritan Commonwealth until his death.
A 1656 portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750) Germany. Baroque composer and musician. Brandenburg Concertos (1721). The Well-Tempered Clavier (1722, 1742). Mass in B Minor (1749).
A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach. This is a 1748 copy of Elias Haussmann’s 1746 original, which hangs in the Old Town Hall in Leipzig, Germany.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU (1889-1964) India. Statesman and independence activist. First prime minister of independent India. Architect of the modern socialist, secular democratic India.
Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959.
On 8 Lists
ASHOKA THE GREAT (Ashoka Maurya) (304-232 BCE) India. Military leader and Emperor of Maurya empire on Indian subcontinent. Encouraged spread of Buddhism.
A relief sculpture of Ashoka the Great (left) found at Gulbarga stupa in southern India and dating from 100-200 CE.
ATTILA THE HUN (c. 410-453 CE) Hunnic Empire (centered in what is now Hungary). Political and military leader of Hunnic Empire. Led many invasions against Western and Eastern Roman Empires. Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (451 CE).
The Feast of Attila, an 1870 painting by Mór Than. Now in the Hungarian National Gallery.
NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI (1469-1527) Italy. Historian, politician, diplomat and philosopher. Renaissance humanism. Political realism. Classical republicanism. The Art of War (1519-1520). Discourses on Livy (1531). The Prince (1532).
Posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito between 1550 and 1600. It can be found in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.
JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704) England (now UK: England). Enlightenment philosopher and physician. Empiricism. Liberalism. Social contract theory. Natural law. Tabula rasa. Primary/secondary qualities. Rights of life, liberty, and property. Two Treatises of Government (1689). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). Letters Concerning Toleration (1689-1692). Some Thoughts Concerning Education(1693). On the Conduct of the Understanding (1706).
A 1697 portrait of John Locke by Sir Godfrey Kneller. It is located in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK (1632-1723) The Netherlands. Scientist and tradesman. Pioneer of microbiology. First identified bacteria and other microorganisms. Improved accuracy of microscopes.
A portrait of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje from between 1670 and 1693. It is located in the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.
JAMES WATT (1736-1819) UK: Scotland. Inventor and engineer. Pioneer of steam technology; improved the steam engine. Developed the concept of horsepower.
A portrait of James Watt by Carl Frederik von Breda in 1792. It can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
CHARLES BABBAGE (1791-1871) UK. Mathematician, philosopher and inventor. Pioneer of the programmable computer. Invented the difference engine and the programmable analytical calculator.
A photograph of Charles Babbage in 1860.
OTTO VON BISMARCK (1815-1898) Germany. Political leader and diplomat. First chancellor of united Germany. Practitioner of realpolitik diplomacy.
A photograph of Otto von Bismarck from about 1875. It is located in the German Federal Archives, Koblenz.
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (1820-1910) UK. Social reformer and statistician. Helped popularize the use of statistical data. Founder of modern professional nursing.
A photograph of Florence Nightingale taken about 1860. This is a 1920 print from the original negative.
WOODROW WILSON (1856-1924) US. Statesman and scholar. 28th US president (1913-1920). Sponsored reform legislation. Led US into World War I. Sparked creation of the League of Nations. Nobel Peace Prize (1919).
A photograph of Woodrow Wilson taken in December 1912 by Pach Brothers.
ALEXANDER FLEMING (1881-1955) UK: Scotland. Biologist, pharmacologist and botanist. Discovered penicillin and lysozyme. Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine (1945).
CHARLES CHAPLIN (1889-1977) UK/US/Switzerland. Comic actor and filmmaker. The Gold Rush (1925). City Lights (1931). Modern Times (1936).
Charlie Chaplin in 1920.
INDIRA GANDHI (1917–1984) India. Political leader. Third Prime Minister of India. Strengthened Indian economy and military, and secured status as regional power. Ruled by decree during 1975-1977 state of emergency. Assassinated.
ERNESTO “CHE” GUEVARA (1928-1967) Argentina/Cuba. Revolutionary. Physician. Leading figure in Cuban Revolution. Executed in Bolivia while supporting rebellion.
A 1960 photo of Che Guevara by Alberto Korda.
On 7 Lists
ZOROASTER (Zarathustra) (c. 11th-10th Century BCE) Persia (now Iran). Philosopher, religious figure and writer. Founder of Zoroastrianism. Manicaeism. Mithraism. Ahmadiyya. Struggle between aša and druj. Mazda-Yasna ethics. The Gathas, Avesta.
Zoroaster (with globe) in detail from Raphael’s The School of Athens (1509).
LAO TZU (Laozi) (fl. 6th Century BCE) China. Philosopher and writer. Traditional founder of Taoism. Tao Te Ching.
Stone sculpture of Laozi at the foot of Mount Qingyuan dating to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
QIN SHI HUANG (Zhao Zheng) (259-210 BCE) China. Military and political leader. First emperor of unified China. Undertook major economic and political reforms and building projects. The Great Wall.
A portrait of Qin Shi Huang.
SALADIN (1138–1193) Mesopotamia (now Iraq)/Syria. Political and military leader. First Sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Led Arabs to victory over the Crusaders.
Saladin the Victorious, a 19th Century engraving by Gustave Doré.
ISABELLA OF SPAIN (Isabella I of Castile) (1451-1504) Spain. Monarch of Spain with Ferdinand II of Aragon. Persecuted Jews and Muslims. Sponsored voyages of Columbus.
A 1520 portrait of Isabella of Spain.
FERDINAND MAGELLAN (Fernão de Magalhãesze) (1480-1521) Portugal. Explorer. First European to cross the Pacific. Led first expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Killed in a battle with Philippine Islanders.
A portrait of Ferdinand Magellan from the 16th or 17th Century. It may be found in the Mariner’s Museum Collection, Newport News, Virginia.
FRANCIS BACON (The Viscount St. Alban) (1561-1626) England (now UK: England). Philosopher, statesman, scientist and writer. Promoted the scientific method. Empiricism. Inductive reasoning. Essays (1st ed., 1597). The Advancement and Proficience of Learning Divine and Human (1605). Essays (2nd ed., 1612). Novum Organum Scientarium (1620). New Atlantis (1627).
A 1617 portrait of Francis Bacon by Frans Pourbus the Younger. It is located in the Palace on the Water, Warsaw.
PETER THE GREAT (1672-1725) Russia. Romanov Tsar and Emperor of Russia (1721-1725). Instituted many Europe-oriented reforms.
A portrait of Peter the Great by Paul Delaroche in 1838. It is located in the Hamburg Kunsthalle.
JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817) UK. Novelist. Sense and Sensibility (1811). Mansfield Park (1814). Pride and Prejudice (1815). Emma (1815). Persuasion (1818). Northanger Abbey (1818).
Enlarged and colorized portion of an undated portrait of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra Austen.
CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870) UK. Writer and social critic. The Pickwick Papers (1837). Oliver Twist (1838). Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839). A Christmas Carol (1843). Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-1844). Dombey and Son (1846-1848). David Copperfield (1849-1850). Bleak House (1852-1853). Hard Times (1854). Little Dorrit (1857). A Tale of Two Cities (1859). Great Expectations (1860-1861). Our Mutual Friend (1864-1864).
A photograph of Charles Dickens by Herbert Watkins, dated 1858. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
MARK TWAIN (pen name of Samuel Clemens) (1835-1910) US. Author and humorist. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865). The Innocents Abroad (1869). Roughing It (1872). The Adventure of Tom Sawyer (1876). Life on the Mississippi (1883). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). The Private History of a Campaign That Failed (1885). A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894). A Dog’s Tale (1903). Was it Heaven? Or Hell? (1903). Eve’s Diary (1905). The McWilliamses and the Burglar Alarm (pub. 1916).
An undated photograph of Mark Twain (possibly 1880).
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890) The Netherlands/France. Post-Impressionist painter. The Potato Eaters (1885). The Night Café (1888). Sunflowers (series) (1888). Café Terrace at Night, Arles (1888). Starry Night over the Rhone (1888). Bedroom in Arles (1888). Bedroom in Arles (1889). Irises (1889). Self-Portrait (1889). The Starry Night (1889). The Olive Trees (1889). Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background, Saint-Remy (1889). Sorrowing Old Man (after ‘At Eternity’s Gate’) (1890). Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890). Wheatfield with Crows (1890). The Church at Auvers (1890).
Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889. It is now at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900) Ireland/UK. Writer, poet and playwright. Persecuted for his homosexuality. Vera, or The Nihilists (1880). The Duchess of Padua (1883). The Nightingale and the Rose (1888). The Happy Prince (1888). The Selfish Giant (1888). The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Intentions: The Critic As Artist (1891). Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892). A Woman of No Importance (1893). Salomé (1893). An Ideal Husband (1895). The Importance of Being Earnest (1899). De Profundis (1905).
A photograph of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony, taken in 1882.
NIKOLA TESLA (1856-1943) Serbia/US. Inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer and physicist. Contributed to development of alternating current (AC) electricity system, radio and the electric light. Invented an alternating current induction motor, a radio remote controlled vehicle and the Tesla coil. Studied X-rays.
An 1890 photograph of Nicolas Tesla by Napoleon Sarony.
GUGLIELMO MARCONI (1874-1937) Italy. Inventor and entrepreneur. Pioneered the development of wireless radio. Marconi’s law. Nobel Prize in Physics (1909).
Guglielmo Marconi in 1901, re-enacting the first wireless signal.
On 6 Lists
IMHOTEP (c. 2650-2600 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Architect, engineer and physician. Served as chancellor and high priest under Pharoah Djoser. Designed the Step Pyramid of Djoser – the first known pyramid.
Bronze statue of Imhotep in the Louvre (c. 330 BCE).
RAMESSES THE GREAT (Ramesses II) (c. 1303-1213 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Pharaoh of 19th Dynasty in the New Kingdom. Led Egyptian armies to many victories and greatly expanded territory. Built many cities, temples and monuments.
Statue of Ramesses the Great.
EUCLID (flourished c. 300 BCE) Ancient Greece. Mathematician. Developed principles of what is now known as Euclidean geometry. The Elements (c. 300 BCE).
Statue of Euclid at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, UK. Created by Joseph Durham between 1835 and 1877.
AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430 CE) Hippo Regius, Roman Empire (now Algeria). Christian theologian and author. Divine grace. Original sin. Just war theory. Confessions (c. 397-400 CE). On Christian Doctrine (397-426 CE). City of God (426 CE).
Portrait of St. Augustine by Peter Paul Rubens, from 1636-1638. It is now in the National Gallery of Prague.
THOMAS AQUINAS (Tommaso d’Aquino) (1225-1274) Italy. Catholic priest, theologian and philosopher. Scholasticism. Thomism. Metaphysical intellectualism. Medieval realism. Omnipotence paradox. Quinque viae. Analogia entis. Summa contra Gentiles (c. 1259-1265). Summa Theologica (1265-1274). On Being and Essence.
Thomas Aquinas, as depicted by Gentile da Fabriano in a 1400 painting, now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, in Milan.
DANTE ALIGHIERI (c. 1265-1321) Italy. Poet. The New Life (1295). The Divine Comedy (c. 1308-1321).
A portrait of Dante Aligheri by Andrea del Castagno in about 1450. It is a mural at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
IMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804) Germany. Philosopher. Idealism. Synthesizing rationalism and skepticism. Deontological ethics. The categorical imperative. Social contract theory. Critique of Pure Reason (1781). Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783). Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785). Critique of Practical Reason (1788). Critique of Judgment (1789).
An 18th Century portrait of Immanuel Kant by an unknown artist.
JOHN ADAMS (1735-1826) US. Lawyer, statesman, diplomat and revolutionary. Leader in American Revolution. Primary drafter of Massachusetts Constitution. 2nd US president (1797-1800).
Official Presidential portrait of John Adams by John Trumbull, from 1792 or 1793. Now located in the White House, Washington, D.C.
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-1797) UK. Writer, philosopher and women’s rights advocate. Co-education. Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787). A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790). A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).
John Opie’s portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, from about 1797, is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
LOUIS DAGUERRE (1787-1851) France. Artist and physicist. Invented daguerreotype photographic process.
Daguerreotype of Louis Daguerre in 1844, taken by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot. On display at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.
MICHAEL FARADAY (1791-1867) UK. Scientist and inventor. Discovered electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.
Photograph of Michael Faraday from about 1861, probably taken by John Watkins.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844-1900) Germany. Philosopher, philologist, critic, poet and composer. Idealism. Existentialism. Metaphysical voluntarism. Will to Power. Superman. Anarchism. Apollonian/Dionysian. Resentiment. “God is dead.” Herd instinct. Master-slave morality. Transvaluation of values. Nietzschean affirmation. The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Human, All Too Human(1878). The Gay Science (1882). Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883). Beyond Good and Evil (1886). On the Genealogy of Morals(1887). Twilight of the Idols (1888). The Antichrist (1888). Ecce Homo (1888).
A photograph of Friedrich Nietzsche from about 1875, taken by F. Hartmann.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919) US. Politician, military leader, naturalist and explorer. 26th US president (1901-1908). Led Progressive Movement. Completed Panama Canal. Nobel Peace Prize (1906).
A photograph of Theodore Roosevelt from about 1902, by M.P. Rice.
BENITO MUSSOLINI (1883-1945) Italy. Military and political leader. Fascist dictator of Italy from 1922-1943. Joined Hitler and Hirohito in Axis during World War II. Executed after trying to escape.
Benito Mussolini in Germany in 1938.
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (1884-1962) US. Politician, activist and reformer. Outspoken First Lady. United Nations delegate. Co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Chair of Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
Eleanor Roosevelt speaking at the United Nations in 1947.
HO CHI MINH (1890-1969) Vietnam. Revolutionary, military and political leader. Led communist revolution for Vietnamese independence and unification. Founder and first leader of of North Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh in 1946.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899–1961) US. Writer and sportsman. Known for his spare writing style. In Our Time (1925). The Sun Also Rises (1926). Hills Like White Elephants (1927). The Killers (1927). A Farewell to Arms (1929). A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (1933). A Day’s Wait (1933). The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936). The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1936). For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940). The Old Man and the Sea (1952). A Moveable Feast (pub. 1964). Nobel Prize in Literature (1954).
Ernest Hemingway in a 1958 photo by Yousef Karsh.
RICHARD NIXON (1913-1994) US. 37th US president (1969-1974). Improved US relations with Communist China and USSR. Implemented new environmental legislation. Resigned amid Watergate scandal.
Richard Nixon announcing the release of edited White House transcripts in 1974.
GEORGE W. BUSH (1946- ) US. Political leader and businessman. Son of former US President George H.W. Bush. Co-owner, Texas Rangers baseball team. Governor of Texas (1995-2000). Served two terms as 43rd president of US (Republican, 2001-2009). Following September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on US, he initiated “War on Terror.” Presided over US-led military invasions of Afghanistan against the Taliban (2001- ) and Iraq against Saddam Hussein (2003-2011) after terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Legislation passed during his presidency included: the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Criticized for handling of Hurricane Katrina (2005).
George W. Bush shortly after the terrorist attacks of 2001.
DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES (Princess Diana) (born Diana Spencer) (1961–1997) UK. Member of the British royal family and humanitarian. First wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (married 1981). Mother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Divorced from Prince Charles (1996). Prominent supporter of the Halo Trust and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Supported organizations working to prevent and cure HIV/AIDS, cancer, and leprosy. Her physical contact with HIV/AIDS patients helped to destigmatize the illness. Killed in car crash in Paris.
On 5 Lists
SAPPHO (610-570 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Lesbos). Prolific lyric poet. “The Tenth Muse.” Most of her work is lost. Surviving poems include: With His Venom. Fragment 42. Fragment 155. Exiled with her family to Sicily c. 600 BCE for political reasons.
The bust of Sappho in the Musei Capitolini in Rome is a Roman copy of a 5th Century Greek original.
PYTHAGORAS (c. 570-495 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Samos). Mathematician and philosopher. Founder of Pythagoreanism (religious movement). Known for: the Pythagorean theorem (attrib.); Theory of Proportions (attrib.); Communalism; Metempsychosis; Musica universalis (music of the spheres); five regular solids. Proposed that the Earth was a sphere (attrib.).
Bust of Pythagoras from Musei Capitolini, Rome. It is a marble Roman copy of a 5th Century BCE Greek bronze original.
CAI LUN (Ts’ai Lun; Jingzhong) (c. 50-121 CE) China. Politician and artisan. A eunuch who served in the court of Emperor He of Han, he is traditionally regarded as the inventor of paper. Although there is evidence that paper existed much earlier, he was responsible for the first significant improvement and standardization of the composition of paper and the papermaking process (105 CE). Lived during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 CE). Committed suicide after being implicated in a plot to kill one of the emperor’s imperial consorts.
Eighteenth Century print depicting Cai Lun.
GEOFFREY CHAUCER (c.1343-1400) England (now UK: England). Writer and poet. Also a civil servant, courtier, philosopher and astronomer. Proponent of the use of vernacular English in literature. Clerk of the Works, Palace of Westminster. Works include: Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1382-1388). The Legend of Good Women (c. 1386-1388). The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400). Buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.
A portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer by Thomas Hoccleve in his 1412 book, Regiment of Princes.
HERNÁN CORTÉS (Hernando Cortés; Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca)(1485-1547) Crown of Castile (now Spain)/New Spain (now Mexico). Spanish conquistador. Conquered the Aztec Empire with the help of rival indigenous groups, culminating in the Siege of Tenochtitlán (1521). Established a Spanish colony (New Spain) in what is now Mexico and served as its first governor (1521-1524).
A portrait of Hernando (also known as Hernán) Cortés, possibly from the 16th Century.
HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND (1491-1547) England (now UK: England). English monarch. Second Tudor king of England (1509-1547). Asserted divine right of kings. Refusal of Pope to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon led to the separation of the Church of England from Roman Catholicism. Appointed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England (1531). Oversaw union of England and Wales (1535, 1542). Excommunicated by Pope Paul III (1538). First English monarch to rule as King of Ireland (1542). Invested heavily in the English navy. Married six times: Catherine of Aragon (1509-1533) (divorced/annulled); Anne Boleyn (1533-1536) (beheaded); Jane Seymour (1536-1537) (died); Anne of Cleves (1540-1540) (divorced/annulled); Catherine Howard (1540-1541) (beheaded); Catherine Parr (1543-1547).
A portrait of Henry VIII painted by the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger between 1537 and 1547. It is located in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
AKBAR THE GREAT (Akbar I; Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar) (1542–1605) Rajputana (now Pakistan)/Mughal Empire (now India). Political and military leader. 3rd Mughal Emperor (1556-1605). Greatly enlarged and strengthened Mughal Empire through military conquests, diplomacy and arranged marriages. During his reign, the empire tripled in size and wealth and included most of what is today Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and northern and central India. Introduced centralized governmental administration. Espoused religious tolerance and multiculturalism. Promoted expansion of commerce and the arts. Created a library of over 24,000 volumes. Founded the city of Fatehpur Sikri.
Sixteenth Century portrait of Akbar the Great.
WILLIAM HARVEY (1578-1657) England (now UK: England). Physician. Made important contributions to anatomy and physiology. First to completely describe human circulatory system and properties of blood. Elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (1607). Appointed physician in charge at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (1609). Served as Lumleian lecturer on anatomy (1616-1623). Appointed as physician to King James I (1618) and King Charles I (1632). Writings include: De Motu Cordis (1628) and On Animal Generation (1651).
Portrait of William Harvey from 1627, attributed to Daniel Mytens. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery.
REMBRANDT (Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn) (1606-1669) Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands). Dutch Golden Age painter and printmaker. Innovative and prolific master of the visual arts; created artworks in a wide variety of styles and subject matters. Paintings include: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632); The Night Watch (1642); The Supper at Emmaus (1648); Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1653-1654); Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph (1656); The Betrayal of Peter (The Denial of St. Peter) (1660); The Syndics of the Cloth-Makers Guild (The Staalmeesters) (1662); The Jewish Bride (c. 1662-1667); and The Return of the Prodigal Son (1668-1669). Prints/etchings include The Hundred Guilder Print (Christ Preaching) (c. 1647-1649) and The Three Crosses (c. 1653). Created nearly 100 self-portraits, including Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar (1659) and Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665-1669).
Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait of 1658. It is located in the Frick Collection, New York.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY (1820-1906) US. Civil rights leader. A leader in movements for temperance, abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage. Co-founder: New York Women’s State Temperance Society (1852): Women’s Loyal National League (1863) (anti-slavery organization); American Equal Rights Association (1866); The Revolution (1868) (newspaper); National Woman Suffrage Association (1869); National American Woman Suffrage Association (1890). Co-author, History of Woman Suffrage (six volumes, 1881-1922). Arrested and tried for attempting to vote in a presidential election (1872). Campaigned for the 19h Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (giving women the right to vote). Her image is depicted on the dollar coin issued in 1979.
A photograph of Susan B. Anthony on her 50th birthday in 1870.
GREGOR MENDEL (1822-1884) Silesia (now Czech Republic). Scientist and Catholic friar. “Father of Modern Genetics.” Founded science of genetics. Discovered laws of heredity (Mendelian inheritance), including the law of segregation and the law of independent assortment. Works include: Experiments on Plant Hybridization (1865). The importance of his work was not realized at the time but was rediscovered in 1900 by several scientists, including Hugo de Vries and Carl Correns.
Undated photograph of Gregor Mendel.
LEO TOLSTOY (Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy) (1828-1910) Russia. Author and philosopher. Served in Crimean War (1853-1856). Founded schools for children of newly-freed serfs (1861-1862). His radical anarcho-pacifist Christianity led to his excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church (1901). He wrote three novels – War and Peace (1869); Anna Karenina (1877); and Resurrection (1899) – and seven novellas, including: Family Happiness (1859); The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886); The Kreutzer Sonata (1889); and Hadji Murat (written 1896-1904, pub. 1912). He also wrote numerous short stories, including The Three Questions (1885); How Much Land Does A Man Need? (1886); and Master and Man (1895). Works of nonfiction include: A Confession (1882); What Is to Be Done? (1886); The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894); and A Letter to a Hindu (1908).
A photograph of Leo Tolstoy taken between 1880 and 1886. It is in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
ERNEST RUTHERFORD (1871-1937) New Zealand/UK. Theoretical and experimental physicist and chemist. Father of nuclear physics. The atomic nucleus. The structure of the atom. The proton. The neutron. Alpha and beta radioactivity. Radioactive half-life. Radio-activity (1904). Radioactive Transformations (1906). Radioactive Substances and their Radiations (1913). Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1908).
HARRY S TRUMAN (1884-1972) US. Businessman and politician. 33rd US president (Dem: 1945-1952). Used atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.
Harry S. Truman after winning election in November 1948. Associated Press photo by Rollins.
LECH WAŁĘSA (1943- ) Poland. Politician, union organizer and human rights activist. Leader of independent trade union Solidarity. President of Poland from 1990-1995. Nobel Peace Prize (1983).
Lech Wałęsa in 1980.
BENAZIR BHUTTO (1953–2007) Pakistan. Politician and stateswoman. Daughter of Pakistani political leader Zulfikar Bhutto, who was overthrown by a military coup (1977) and later executed (1979). Became co-chair of the Pakistan People’s Party (1979). Established the anti-government coalition Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (1981). Persecuted by military dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1979-1984). Elected to two terms as prime minister of Pakistan (1988-1990; 1993-1996), becoming the first woman to lead Pakistan or any other Muslim state. Accused of corruption by Pakistani and European law enforcement agencies. Assassinated after returning to Pakistan from exile to run for office again.
Benazir Bhutto in 2004.
MICHAEL JACKSON (1958–2009) US. Pop singer, performer and songwriter. “King of Pop.” Member, The Jackson Five (later The Jacksons) (1964-1984). Won 15 Grammy Awards and 26 American Music Awards. Had 13 number-one US singles. Albums include: Off the Wall (1979); Thriller (1982); Bad (1987); and Dangerous (1991). Songs include: I Want You Back (1969) (with The Jackson Five); Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (1979); Beat It (1982); Billie Jean (1982); and Black or White (1991). Accused of sexual abuse of children; acquitted of one charge at trial (2005). Died from an overdose of propofol and benzodiazepine given to him by his personal physician.
Michael Jackson in 1984.
BARACK OBAMA (1961- ) US. Political leader. 44th US president (Democrat, 2009-2016). First African-American president of US. Led US during recovery from Great Recession of 2007-2009. Signed Affordable Care Act (2010). Nobel Peace Prize (2009).
Official Presidential portrait of Barack Obama in 2009.
On 4 Lists
KHUFU (Khnum Khufu; Cheops) (2609-2584 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Second Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (2589-2566 BCE). Commissioned the Great Pyramid at Giza as his tomb.
Ivory figurine of Khufu, possibly contemporary. Now in Cairo Museum.
HAMMURABI (c. 1810-1750 BCE) Babylon (now Iraq). Military and political leader. King of Babylon (sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty) (1792-1750 BCE). Established the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1772 BCE), a legal code that prescribed specific punishments for crimes and established the presumption of innocence.
Bas relief of Hammurabi receiving the law code from the god Shamash (c. 1750 BCE).
PERICLES (c. 495-429 BCE) Ancient Greece (Athens). Military and political leader. Led Athenian city-state (c. 461-429 BCE). Promoted arts and literature. Developed the Delian League into the Athenian Empire. Fostered Athenian democracy. Succumbed to the Plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War with Sparta.
Bust of Pericles in the Museo Pio Clementino, Vatican City. It is a Roman-made marble copy of a Greek original by Cresilas dating from around 430 BCE.
EURIPIDES (c. 480–406 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Salamis/Athens). Prolific Athenian author of tragic plays, including: Alcestis (438 BCE); Medea (c. 431 BCE); Hippolytus (c. 428 BCE); Hecuba (c. 424 BCE); Trojan Women (415 BCE); and The Bacchae (405 BCE).
Bust of Euripides in the Museo Pio Clementino. It is a Roman marble copy of a 4th Century BCE Greek original.
HIPPOCRATES (Hippocrates of Kos) (c. 460-c. 370 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Kos). Physician and philosopher of medicine. Clinical medicine (attrib.). Hippocratic Corpus, including The Hippocratic Oath (attrib.).
A replica of a Greek bust of Hippocrates from about 150 CE.
VIRGIL (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70-19 BCE) Ancient Rome (Cisalpine Gaul) (now Italy). Poet. Works: Eclogues (39-38 BCE); Georgics (37-29 BCE); and The Aeneid (29-19 BCE). The Aeneid, an epic poem that follows Trojan soldier Aeneas from the end of the Trojan War to his arrival in Italy, was considered the national epic of the Roman Empire.
A bust of Virgil from 45 BCE.
POPE URBAN II (born Odo of Châtillon or Otho de Lagery) (c. 1042-1099) France/Rome, Papal States (now Italy). Roman Catholic religious leader. Supreme Pontiff and Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome (1088-1099). After receiving a plea for help from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, Pope Urban II initiated the First Crusade in 1095 by promising pardon of all past sins to anyone who went to the Holy Land (now Israel/Palestine) in order to wrest it from the control of the Seljuk Turks, who were Muslims. Set up Roman Curia to assist with running the Church.
Statue of Pope Urban II in Clermont-Ferrand, France by Henri Gourgouillon, in 1898.
JOHN CALVIN (Jehan Cauvin) (1509-1564) France/Republic of Geneva (now Switzerland)/Free City of Strasbourg, Holy Roman Empire (now France). Theologian, pastor and religious reformer. Important figure in the Protestant Reformation, he broke from the Roman Catholic church in 1530. Founder of Calvinism, a religious doctrine that emphasized: justification by faith alone; knowledge of God through study of scripture; predestination of human souls; absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul; rejection of images of God; denial of the Pope’s authority; the trinitarian nature of God; and rejection of the doctrine of transubstantiation. Wrote Institutes of the Christian Religion (1st ed, 1536). With William Farel, reorganized church in Geneva. Expelled from Geneva in 1537; returned in 1541. Drafted Catéchisme de l’Eglise de Genève (Catechism of the Church of Geneva) (1542). Participated in burning at the stake of Michael Servetus for heresy (1553).
This anonymous portrait of John Calvin, from about 1550, is located in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, Netherlands.
CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI (1519–1589) Republic of Florence (now Italy)/France. Noblewoman and French monarch. Daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici, duke of Urbino, and his wife, Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, the countess of Boulogne, Catherine married Henry, Duke of Orleans, in 1533. When Henry became King Henry II of France in 1547, Catherine became Queen consort of France until his death in 1559. She exerted considerable influence on domestic and foreign policy as Queen Mother during reigns of her sons Francis II (1559-1560) (accession at age 15), Charles IX (1560-1574) (accession at age 10) and (to a lesser extent) Henry III (1574-1589) (accession at age 22). Ruled France as regent for her son Charles IX (1560-1563). Reigned during the Wars of Religion (1562-1598), a period of almost constant civil and religious war between Catholics and Protestants in France. Signed the Edict of Amboise (1563), which temporarily restored peace and granted religious freedom to the Huguenots (French Protestants). Nevertheless, persecution of Huguenots continued, including the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (1572), which began shortly after the wedding celebration of Catherine’s daughter Marguerite de Valois to Henry, King of Navarre, a Protestant, and which Catherine and Charles IX may have ordered.
A portrait of Catherine de’ Medici from between 1547 and 1559. It is located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) (1547-1616) Spain. Novelist, poet and playwright. Also worked as solider, purchasing agent and tax collector. While serving in the Navy, he was captured by Barbary Pirates and imprisoned in Algiers from 1575-1580. Writings include: La Galatea (1585); Don Quixote (1605, 1615); Exemplary Novels (1613); and The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda (1617).
A 1600 portrait purported to be Miguel de Cervantes, possibly by Juan de Jauregui. It is located at the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid.
THOMAS HOBBES (1588-1679) England (now UK: England). Political philosopher, scientist, mathematician, and scholar. Known for: materialism; empiricism; social contract theory; classical realism; determinism; ethical egoism. Declared that life in state of nature was “nasty, brutish, and short.” Writings include: De Cive (1642); Leviathan (1651); De Corpore (1655); and Behemoth (1668, pub. 1681).
A 17th Century portrait of Thomas Hobbes by John Michael Wright. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
CARL LINNAEUS (ennobled as Carl von Linné in 1761) (1707-1778) Sweden. Zoologist, botanist, physician, taxonomist and professor. “Father of modern taxonomy.” Developed formal system of binomial nomenclature for biological classification. Led scientific expeditions to Lapland (1732), Dalarna (1734) Öland and Gotland (1741), Västergötland. (1746), and Scani (1749). Co-founded the Royal Swedish Academy of Science (1739). Obtained position as professor at University of Uppsala (1741); appointed university rector (1750). Appointed chief physician to Swedish king Adolf Frederick (1747). Writings include: Systema Naturae (1st edition, 1735; 10th edition, 1858); Flora Suecica (1745); Fauna Suecica (1745); Philosophia Botanica (1751); and Species Plantarum (1753).
This 1775 portrait of Carl Linnaeus by Alexander Roslin is located in the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm.
EDWARD JENNER (1749-1823) England (now UK: England). Physician and scientist. “Father of Immunology.” Pioneer of vaccination. Developed smallpox vaccine – the world’s first vaccine – by using live cowpox. Works include: Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae known as the Cow Pox (1796). Appointed physician extraordinary to King George IV (1821). He advanced the understanding of angina pectoris and was the first to describe brood parasitism in the cuckoo.
A portrait of Edward Jenner by James Northcote, from between 1803 and 1823. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
JAMES MADISON (1751-1836) British America/US. Political leader. “Father of the Constitution.” Served as member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, where he played a pivotal role in drafting the US Constitution. Co-wrote The Federalist Papers (1787-1788) in support of ratification of the new constitution. Represented Virginia in the US House of Representatives (1789-1797), where he introduced the Bill of Rights. Co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party (c. 1792). US Secretary of State (1801-1809). Fourth US president (1809-1817). Presided over successful War of 1812 against Great Britain; re-established a national bank; and approved federal spending on road improvements.
This 1816 portrait of James Madison by John Vanderlyn now hangs in the White House in Washington, D.C.
LOUIS XVI OF FRANCE (born Louis-Auguste) (1754-1793) France. Last king of France before and during the French Revolution (1774-1792). Supported American Revolution at great expense to France. Attempts at reform thwarted by the aristocracy. Deregulated the grain market, leading to increased bread prices and food shortages. Debt and financial crisis caused by his policies led to revolution. Forced to recognize legislative authority of the National Assembly (1789). Attempted unsuccessfully to flee the country (1791). Monarchy abolished (1792). Found guilty of high treason and executed by guillotine (1793).
This 1779 portrait of King Louis XVI by Antoine-François Callet is now located at the Palace of Versailles.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (1759-1833) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Politician and philanthropist. Member of Parliament (1780-1825). Leader of British anti-slavery movement in the British Parliament, which led to the Slave Trade Act of 1807 and the Slavery Abolition Act (1833). Evangelical Christian who was founding member of the Church Missionary Society (1799) and the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804). In 1824, co-founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
A 1794 portrait of William Wilberforce by Anton Hickel. It may be found at Wilberforce House, Kingston upon Hull, UK.
SAMUEL MORSE (1791-1872) US. Painter, inventor, and photographer. He invented a single-wire electrical telegraph system, which eventually was installed commercially throughout the US. With Alfred Vail, co-inventor of the Morse code telegraph language, which became standard. Pioneer in daguerreotype photography; taught Matthew Brady. Co-founder, National Academy of Design (1826). His paintings include: Dying Hercules (1812); Judgment of Jupiter (1814-1815); Portrait of James Monroe (c. 1819); Portrait of Eli Whitney (1822); Portrait of Marquis de la Lafayette (1826); and The Gallery of the Louvre (1831-1833).
An 1840 photograph of Samuel Morse, which is kept in the Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON (1815-1902) US. Women’s rights activist, abolitionist, and suffragist. Wrote the influential Declaration of Sentiments, which was presented at the Seneca Falls Convention for women’s rights (1848). Co-founder, Woman’s State Temperance Society (1852-1853). Co-founder, Revolution (a weekly periodical) (1868). Co-founder, National American Woman Suffrage Association (1869); served as president (1890-1892). Other works include: The Slave’s Appeal (1860); History of Woman Suffrage (co-author, Vol. I, 1881 and Vol. II, 1886); Solitude of Self (1892); The Woman’s Bible (written with a committee of 26 women) (1895, 1898); and Eighty Years and More (1898), a memoir.
A photograph of Elizabeth Cady Stanton from c. 1880.
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL (born John Clark) (1831-1879) UK: Scotland. Theoretical physicist. Professor of Natural Philosophy, Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland (1856-1860). Professor of Natural Philosophy, King’s College, London (1860-1865). Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, UK (1871-1879). Discovered that electricity, magnetism and light are different manifestations of the same phenomenon: electromagnetic radiation. Explained electromagnetism mathematically through Maxwell’s equations. Predicted the existence of radio waves. Helped develop the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution to describe the kinetic theory of gases. Investigated color theory, color blindness and color perception and pioneered color photography. Developed a method for analyzing the rigidity of rod and joint trusses. Explained the stability of Saturn’s rings. Established the foundations of control theory. Books include: Theory of Heat (1871); A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (1873); and Matter and Motion (1876). Important papers include: “On the Transformation of Surfaces by Bending” (1854); “Experiments on Colour” (1855); “On the stability of the motion of Saturn’s rings” (1859); “On the Theory of Colour Vision” (1860); “On physical lines of force” (1861); “A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field” (1865); and “On governors” (1867-1868).
An undated portrait of James Clerk Maxwell. This is an engraving by G. J. Stodart, based on a photograph by Fergus of Greenock.
JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (1883-1946) UK. Economist. Developed Keynesian economics, which emphasized government spending. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936).
John Maynard Keynes (right) with his partner, painter Duncan Grant.
NIELS BOHR (1885-1962) Denmark. Theoretical and experimental physicist and philosopher. Made discoveries regarding the structure of the atom and quantum mechanics. Quantum atomic structure. Bohr model. Correspondence principle. Complementarity. Quantum mechanics. Electron complementarity. Founded Institute of Theoretical Physics (1921) (now Niels Bohr Institute). Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature (1934). Nobel Prize in Physics (1922).
Niels Bohr in 1922.
FRANCIS CRICK (1916-2004) UK. Molecular biologist, biophysicist and neuroscientist. Co-discoverer of structure of DNA. Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine (1962).
Francis Crick (right) and James Watson with DNA model.
ELIZABETH II (1926-) UK. Constitutional monarch of 16 Commonwealth realms, including the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1952 to present. Became longest reigning British monarch in 2015.
Elizabeth II after her coronation in 1953.
STEPHEN HAWKING (1942- ) UK. Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. Developed theories regarding gravitational singularities and black hole radiation. Quantum gravity. The nature of black holes. The origin of galaxies. Hawking radiation. The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (with George Ellis) (1973). A Brief History of Time (1988). (on 4 lists)
Stephen Hawking during a visit to NASA in the 1980s.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI (1945- ) Burma. Politician. Leader of opposition party, National League for Democracy (1988-2011). Under house arrest for nearly 15 years between 1989 and 2010. Member, House of Representatives (2012-2016). First State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2016-2021). Received criticism for government’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. Removed from office and arrested during 2021 coup d’état. Nobel Peace Prize (1991).
Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011.
STEVE JOBS (1955-2011) US. Computer technology entrepreneur. Inventor. Co-founder of Apple, Inc. (1976). Chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc. (1976-1985, 1997-2011). Chairman and CEO of NeXT (1985-1997). Major investor in and support of Pixar (1986). Apple developed: the Macintosh personal computer (1984); iTunes and the iPod (2001); and the iPhone (2007).
A photograph of Steve Jobs with an iPhone.
OSAMA BIN LADEN (1957-2011) Saudi Arabia/Sudan/Afghanistan/Pakistan. Member of wealthy Saudi family who became the leader of a deadly terrorist organization. Saudi Supported Mujahideen resistance in the Soviet–Afghan War (1979-1989). Founded Islamic Fundamentalist terrorist organization Al Qaeda (1988). Banished from Saudia Arabia (1992). Organized terror campaign against US targets including US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998) and use of hijacked planes to assault the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. (2001). Responsible for the murder of many civilians in US and elsewhere. Killed in US Navy Seal ambush at his compound in Pakistan.
Osama bin Laden in 1998.
On 3 Lists
MENES (Narmer?) (c. 3200-3030 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Egyptian Pharaoh. Legendary founder of first dynasty of a united Egypt. United Upper and Lower Egypt. Some historians believe that the Menes is the same person as Narmer (c. 3100 BCE), an early pharaoh who is represented as unifier of Egypt on the Narmer Palette.
The cartouche (royal name hieroglyph) of Menes on the Abydos King List on the wall of the temple of Pharaoh Seti I (c. 1290-1279 BCE).
AMENHOTEP III (14th Century BCE). Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Ninth pharaoh of 18th Dynasty (c. 1386/1388/1391-1349/1350/ 1351 BCE) in the New Kingdom. Reigned during period of unprecedented prosperity, artistic splendor, and international power.
A statue of Amenhotep III, c. 1370, now located in the British Museum in London.
DARIUS THE GREAT (Darius I) (558-486 BCE) Persia (now Iran). Military and political leader. Leader of Persian Achaemenid Empire (522-486 BCE). Expanded Persian Empire through military conquests. Pharaoh of Egypt (522-486 BCE).
Relief sculpture of Darius the Great (center) receiving tribute at Persepolis, c. 500 BCE.
SUN TZU (Sunzi; Sun Wu (?)) (c. 544-496 BCE [traditional], c. 450-380 BCE (?)) China. Military general, strategist and philosopher. Traditional author of the military treatise The Art of War (c. 500-450 BCE). Doctrines include: know when to fight and not to fight; timing is essential; know yourself and your enemy; the best victories come through means other than warfare; success breeds success; and prolonged warfare does not benefit nations. Quotes: “All warfare is based on deception.” “In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity.” Lived during Eastern Zhou period (770-256 BCE).
Statue of Sun Tzu in Yurihama, Tottori, Japan.
HERODOTUS (c. 484-c. 425 BCE) Asia Minor, Persian Empire (now Turkey)/Ancient Greece. Historian and scholar. “Father of History.” First writer to treat historical subjects using systematic investigation. Wrote about the origins of the Greco-Persian wars in The Histories (c. 440 BCE).
Portrait of Herodotus, marble, Roman copy of an early 4th Century BCE Greek original. Now in the National Museum of Rome.
MENCIUS (Mengzi) (372–289 BC) China. Philosopher. One of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. “The second Sage.” Believed that humans are innately good and that society’s influence bad moral character. Defended the right of subjects to overthrow harsh rulers who ignore the needs of the people. Wrote Book of Mencius (c. 309-289 BCE). Lived during the Warring States period (403-221 BCE).
A posthumous portrait of Mencius.
NERO (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) (37-68 CE) Roman Empire (now Italy). Political leader. Last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (54-68 CE). His reign is usually associated with tyranny, corruption, and extravagance, although some modern historians take a more favorable view of him. Accused by some of starting Great Fire of Rome (64 CE). Committed suicide during Vindex-Galba revolt.
A marble bust of Nero, now in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.
BOUDICA (Boadicea) (died c. 60/61 CE) Roman Britain (Britannia) (now UK: England). Queen of Celtic tribe, the Iceni. Led rebellion against Roman occupation by her tribe and others. The rebels destroyed the Roman settlements of Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London), and Verulamium, killing an estimated 70,000-80,000 people. The rebel force was eventually defeated by an army led by Roman Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Legend has it that Boudica committed suicide to avoid capture by the Romans.
Boadicea Haranguing the Britons, from 1793. Original engraving by John Opie; print by William Sharp.
MURASAKI SHIKIBU (Lady Murasaki) (c. 973/978-1014/1031 CE) Japan. Novelist and poet. Pen name of author of The Tale of Genji (c. 1000-1012), considered by some to be the first novel. She was probably a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shōshi at the Japanese Imperial Court during the Heian period. Her true name may have been Fujiwara no Kaoruko. She also wrote The Diary of Lady Murasaki (c. 1008-1010).
A portrait of Murasaki Shikibu writing at her desk, by Suzuki Harunobu about 1767. This Edo period woodblock in the ukiyo-e style is now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
FRANCISCO PIZARRO (1471–1541) Crown of Castile (now Spain)/New Castile (now Peru). Spanish explorer and conquistador. Led three expeditions from Panama to western South America (1524, 1526, 1531-1532). On third expedition, killed Incan emperor Atahualpa in the Battle of Cajamarca (1532) and conquered Incan empire, claiming the lands for Spain. Governor and Captain General of New Castile (1529-1541).
This 1835 portrait of Francisco Pizarro by Amable-Paul Coutan may be based on contemporary drawings. It is now located in the Palace of Versailles.
BABUR (Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur) (1483–1530) Timurid Empire (now Uzbekistan)/Mughal Empire (now India). Military and political leader. First emperor of Mughal dynasty (1526-1530); founder of Mughal Empire. Ruler of Kabul (1504-1530). Defeated Ibraham Lodi of the Lodi Dynasty in the First Battle of Panipat (1526). Defeated the Rajput Confederacy in the battles of Khanwa and Chanderi (1527).
This c. 1630 illustration of Babur by an unknown artist is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT (Suleiman I; Kanunî Sultan Süleyman) (1494-1566) Trabzon, Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). Military and political leader, poet and goldsmith. 10th Ottoman Sultan (1520-1566). Greatly enlarged and strengthened Ottoman Empire. Conquered much of the Middle East, North Africa and Hungary, as well as Belgrade and Rhodes. Expansion of Ottoman Empire into Europe checked at the Siege of Vienna (1529). Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet controlled the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Instituted major legislative reforms. Supported artistic, literary and architectural achievements.
A copy of Titian’s portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent from about 1530-1540.
ANDREAS VESALIUS (born Adries van Wesel) (1514-1564) Hapsburg Netherlands (now Belgium)/Padua, Republic of Venice (now Italy). Anatomist, physician and author. “Father of modern human anatomy.” Chair of surgery and anatomy at the University of Padua (1537-c. 1543). Imperial physician to the Court of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (c. 1543-1556). Emphasized the importance of dissection of human bodies for proper anatomical study. Made numerous discoveries about human anatomy. First person to describe mechanical ventilation. Corrected many of Galen’s errors about human anatomy. Writings include: Tabulae anatomicai sex (1538) (with illustrations by Vesalius) and De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) (1st edition, 1543) (seven volumes). The latter book, known as the Fabrica of Vesalius, was highly influential and marked the establishment of anatomy as a modern descriptive science.
This portrait of Andreas Vesalius was included as an illustration in his 1543 book about the human body.
JOHANNES KEPLER (1571–1630) Free Imperial City of Weil der Stadt, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany)/Graz, Inner Austria, Hapsburg Empire (now Austria)/Prague, Hapsburg Empire (now Czech Republic); Linz, Upper Austria, Hapsburg Empire (now Austria). Astronomer, mathematician, educator, and astrologer. Derived the three laws of planetary motion. Compiled the Rudolphine Tables, which include a star catalogue and planetary tables (1627). Improved the refracting telescope. Writings include: Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596); New Astronomy (1609); The Harmony of the World (1619); and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae (1617-1621).
A 1610 portrait of Johannes Kepler by an unknown artist.
LEONHARD EULER (1707–1783) Switzerland//Russian Empire/Kingdom of Prussia (now Germany) Mathematician, physicist, astronomer, logician, and engineer. Known for his work in mathematics, mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, astronomy and music theory. Made important mathematical discoveries in infinitesimal calculus, graph theory, topology, and analytic number theory. Introduced modern mathematical terminology and notation. Appointed to posts at the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg (1727-1741, 1766-1783) and the Berlin Academy (1741-1766). Works include: Mechanica (1736); Methodus inveniendi lineas curvas maximi minimive proprietate gaudentes, sive solutio problematis isoperimetrici latissimo sensu accepti (1744); Introductio in analysin infinitorum (1748); Institutiones calculi differentialis (1755); Elements of Algebra (1765); Institutionum calculi integralis (1768–1770); and Letters to a German Princess (1768–1772).
This 1753 portrait of Leonhard Euler by Jakob Emanuel Handmann is now in the Kunstmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland.
JAMES COOK (1728-1779) England (now UK: England). Explorer, navigator, and cartographer. Captain in the Royal Navy. Conducted three voyages of scientific discovery in the Pacific (1768-1771, 1772-1775, 1776-1779). First European to cross the Antarctic Circle (1773); first to encounter the Sandwich Islands; and first to have extensive contact with the indigenous people of the Pacific. Created accurate charts and maps of unknown and less well known areas, including Australia, New Zealand, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Northwest coast of America. Cook was killed during a dispute with Hawaiian indigenous people on his last expedition. Cook’s journals of the first voyage, edited by John Hawkesworth, were published in 1773, along with records of other voyages. Narrative of the Voyages Round the World, Performed by Captain James Cook (1788) is an account by Andrew Kippis of Cook’s voyages and death that relies heavily on Cook’s journals.
This portrait of Captain James Cook by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, c. 1775, is now at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, UK.
ANTOINE LAVOISIER (Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier) (1743–1794) France. Chemist. “Father of Modern Chemistry.” Known for: explaining the nature of combustion, the nature and properties of hydrogen and oxygen; disproving the phlogiston theory. He articulated the law of conservation of mass, identified sulfur as an element and made the first extensive list of the chemical elements. He helped construct the metric system and reform chemical nomenclature. He was a pioneer of stoichiometry and conducted some of the first truly qualitative chemical experiments. Works include: Essays, on the Effects Produced by Various Processes On Atmospheric Air; With A Particular View To An Investigation Of The Constitution Of Acids (1777-1783); Reflections on Phlogiston (1783); and Elementary Treatise on Chemistry (1789). Served as an administrator of the Ferme générale. Executed in French Revolution after being charged with tax fraud and selling adulterated tobacco.
This 1788 portrait of Antoine Lavoisier and his wife, chemist Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, by Jacques-Louis David, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1755-1804) Nevis, British Leeward Islands/US. Statesman, military and political leader. Senior aide to General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War (1777-1782). New York delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (1782-1783, 1788-1789). Co-author of The Federalist Papers in support of the U.S. Constitution (1787-1788). 1st US Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795). Proposed the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard (1790). Established a national bank (1791). Arranged Jay Treaty with Great Britain (1795). Co-founder of the Federalist Party. Commanding General of the US Army (1799-1800). Founded the New York Post (1801). Killed in duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.
This 1806 portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull is now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827) Great Britain: England/UK: England). Poet, author, artist, and printer. Poems include: The Tyger (1794); The Sick Rose (1794); London (1794); Mock On, Mock On! Voltaire, Rousseau (1800-1803); Auguries of Innocence (1803); and Jerusalem (“And did those feet in ancient time…”) (1804-1810). Books include: Poetical Sketches (1783); An Island in the Moon (1784-1785); There Is No Natural Religion (c. 1788); All Religions Are One (c. 1788); Songs of Innocence (1789); The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793); Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793); America A Prophecy (1793); Europe A Prophecy (1794); The First Book of Urizen (1794); Songs of Experience (1794); Continental Prophecies (1793-1795); The Book of Los (1795); The Song of Los (1795); The Book of Ahania (1795); The Dance of Albion (c. 1796); The Four Zoas (1797); Milton a Poem (c. 1804-1811); and Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion (1804-1820). Works of visual art include: Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing (1786); Satan (c. 1789); The Ancient of Days (1794); Newton (1795-c. 1805); The Angels Hovering Over the Body of Christ in the Sepulchre (c. 1805); Adam Naming the Beasts (1810); The Ghost of a Flea (c. 1819-1820); and The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve (1825). He illustrated his own books and also created illustrations for Original Stories from Real Life, by Mary Wollstonecraft (1791) and The Book of Job (1826). Illustrations for an edition of The Divine Comedy were left incomplete at his death.
This 1807 portrait of William Blake by Thomas Philips is now at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
HORATIO NELSON (Lord Nelson; Admiral Nelson; 1st Viscount Nelson) (1758-1805) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Naval commander. Led British fleet to victories, especially during Napoleonic Wars (1793-1805). “England expects that every man will do his duty.” Killed by a French sharpshooter at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).
A 1799 portrait of Horatio Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott. It is now in the National Maritime Museum in London.
THOMAS ROBERT MALTHUS (1766–1834) Great Britain. Cleric and scholar. Pioneer in political economy and demography. Works include: An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798); Observations on the effects of the Corn Laws (1814); and Principles of Political Economy (1820). His work on population growth influenced Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in their evolutionary theories.
A print of an 1833 portrait of Thomas Malthus by John Linnell.
JOHN DALTON (1766–1844) Great Britain (now UK: England). Chemist, meteorologist, and physicist. Best known for developing a comprehensive atomic theory of matter that identified all elements as composed of tiny indivisible particles called atoms, that differ from element to element, and combine to form molecules and are combined, separated or rearranged in chemical reactions. He invented a method for calculating the relative atomic weights for the chemical elements and compiled a table of atomic weights. His work in chemistry included investigating and conducting experiments regarding the behavior of gases and discovering the law of multiple proportions and Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures. He also studied and published papers on topics such as color blindness, the origin of springs, light reflection and refraction, various aspects of meteorology, and English grammar. Works include: Meteorological Observations and Essays (1793); Elements of English Grammar (1801); and A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808).
An 1834 portrait of John Dalton by Charles Turner.
JOHN KEATS (1795-1821) Great Britain: England/UK: England. English Romantic poet. Poems include: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer (1816); Endymion (1817); When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be (1818); Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819); Ode on Melancholy (1819); Ode to a Nightingale (1819); Ode to Psyche (1819); La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819); To Autumn (1819); Bright Star (1819); and The Eve of St. Agnes.
A posthumous portrait of John Keats, c. 1822, by William Hilton. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
ROBERT E. LEE (1807-1870) US. Military leader. Aide to Winfield Scott in Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Appointed Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point (1852). Led military detail that suppressed John Brown’s uprising at Harpers Ferry (1859). At the outset of the US Civil War, he rejected an offer of the position of major general in the Union army, resigned his position and became military advisor to Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States of America (1862). Commanding general, Army of Northern Virginia (1862-1865). Appointed General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States (1865). Important Civil War battles include: Second Battle of Manassas/Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and Siege of Petersburg. Surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House (1865). Appointed President of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) (1865).
A photograph of Robert E. Lee by Julian Vannerson from March 1864.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (1811-1896) US. Author and abolitionist. Her bestselling novel and play Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), which depicts the harsh conditions for enslaved African Americans, was influential in energizing anti-slavery forces in the northern US. Editor, Hearth and Home magazine (1868). Co-founder, Hartford Art School (later University of Hartford) (1877). Other works include The Minister’s Wooing (1859); Oldtown Folks (1869); and Palmetto Leaves (1873).
A photograph of Harriet Beecher Stowe from about 1852.
CHARLOTTE BRONTË (1816-1855) UK: England. Novelist and poet. Best known for her novel Jane Eyre (1847), which was “the first [novel] to focus on its protagonist’s moral and spiritual development through an intimate first-person narrative, where actions and events are coloured by a psychological intensity.” [Wikipedia]. Other works include: The Professor (c. 1846, pub. 1857); Shirley (1849); and Villette (1853).
An 1854 photograph of Charlotte Brontë.
EMILY BRONTË (1818-1848) UK: England. Novelist and poet. Best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), with its “unusually stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty … that challenged strict Victorian ideals regarding religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality.” [Wikipedia.] Initially controversial, the book is now recognized as a classic of English literature. Her poems include: Come Hither Child (1839); A Death-Scene (1846); and Remembrance (1846).
An undated portrait of Emily Brontë by her brother Branwell Brontë.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) (1818-1895) US. Social reformer, author and orator. Leader in US abolitionist movement. Supported women’s rights movement. Escaped from enslavement (1838). Became licensed preacher (1839). Publisher and editor, The North Star (1847-1851), later Frederick Douglass’ Paper (1851-1860). Publisher and editor, the New National Era (1870). Nominated for Vice-President by the Equal Rights Party (1872). Appointed President, Freedmen’s Savings Bank (1874). Served as US Ambassador to Haiti (1889-1891). Works include: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845); My Bondage and My Freedom (1855); and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1st ed., 1881, revised, 1892).
A photograph of Frederick Douglas from 1856. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
GEORGE ELIOT (pen name of Mary Anne Evans) (1819-1880) UK: England. Novelist, journalist, poet, and translator. Her novels are known for their realism and psychological insight. Assistant editor, The Westminster Review (1851-1854). Novels include: Adam Bede (1859); The Mill on the Floss (1860); Silas Marner (1861); Romola (1862-1863); Middlemarch (1871-1872); and Daniel Deronda (1876).
A photograph of George Eliot from about 1865. It is now in the National Library of France.
HARRIET TUBMAN (Born Araminta Ross) (1820-1913) US. Abolitionist, humanitarian and spy. Instrumental in creating Underground Railroad to rescue enslaved Americans. After escaping from slavery in Maryland in 1849, she returned 13 times to help approximately 70 other enslaved people reach freedom. She worked with John Brown and helped him plan and recruit supporters for his 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. During the Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy. She guided a raid on Combahee Ferry in South Carolina, which freed 750 slaves. Active in the women’s suffrage movement. Donated land for the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged in Auburn, New York.
A photograph of Harriet Tubman by H. Seymour Squyer, taken about 1885.
ULYSSES S. GRANT (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) (1822-1885). US. Military general and political leader. Served in Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Union general in U.S. Civil War. Fought at many battles including: Fort Donelson (1862), Shiloh (1862); Vicksburg (1863); Chattanooga (1863); the Overland Campaign (including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor) (1864); and the Siege of Petersburg (1864). Led Army of the Potomac to defeat of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House (1865). General of the Army of the United States (1865-1869). Served two terms as 18th US president (1869-1877). As president, supported ratification of the 15th Amendment, established Department of Justice, prosecuted Ku Klux Klan. Wrote Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (1885).
An 1864 photograph of General Ulysses S. Grant.
JOSEPH LISTER (1st Baron Lister) (1827–1912) UK. Physician. “Father of Modern Surgery.” Professor of Surgery, University of Glasgow (1861-1869). While working at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, after reading about Pasteur’s germ theory of disease, he introduced the use of carbolic acid (phenol) as an antiseptic to sterilize surgical instruments and clean wounds. The treatment significantly reduced the rate of post-surgical infections. Professor of Clinical Surgery, University of Edinburgh (1869-1878). Professor of Surgery, King’s College, London (1878-1893).
A 1902 photograph of Joseph Lister.
EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886) US. Reclusive but prolific poet. Several of her poems were published (in altered form) during her lifetime in the Springfield Republican, Drum Beat, the Brooklyn Daily Union and A Masque of Poets (1878), but most of her poems were not discovered and published until after her death. Her poems (most of which were written between 1861 and 1865, include: ‘Hope’ Is the thing with feathers; A Narrow Fellow in the Grass; I’m Nobody! Who are you?; Wild Nights! Wild Nights!; After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes; I Felt a Funeral in My Brain; Much Madness Is Divinest Sense; The Soul selects her own society; A Bird came down the Walk; There’s a Certain Slant of Light; Because I Could Not Stop for Death; and I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died. She was also a fervent gardener and plant collector. Her herbarium, which consists of 424 pressed specimens, is now in the Houghton Library at Harvard University and was published as Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium in 2006.
The only known photograph (actually a daguerreotype) of Emily Dickinson as an adult. It was taken between 1846 and 1848.
J.P. MORGAN (John Pierpont Morgan, Sr.) (1837-1913) US. Financier and banker. Founder, J.P. Morgan & Co. (1871). Arranged creation and/or mergers of major manufacturing corporations (which he then controlled or influenced) including: U.S. Steel, General Electric, AT&T, International Harvester and several dozen railroads. Art collector and philanthropist. Sold gold to the U.S. government to avoid a default (1895). Led the effort by banks to end the Panic of 1907. His railroad mergers were broken up by President Theodore Roosevelt (with the backing of the Supreme Court) under the Sherman Antitrust Act (1904).
A 1902 photograph of J.P. Morgan.
WILHELM CONRAD RÖNTGEN (1845–1923) Prussia, German Confederation (now Germany). Physicist and mechanical engineer. Appointed Professor of Physics, University of Strasbourg (1876); University of Giessen (1879); University of Würzburg (1888); University of Munich (1900). Produced, detected and identified X-rays (also known as Röntgen rays). Writings include: “On a New Kind of Rays” (1895). Awarded first Nobel Prize in Physics (1901).
A 1900 photograph of Wilhelm Röntgen.
MAX PLANCK (1858–1947) Germany. Theoretical physicist. Quantum theory. Planck constant. Planck’s law of black body radiation. Third law of thermodynamics. Fokker-Planck equation. Nobel Prize in Physics (1918).