Today’s Celebrated Figures Were Yesterday’s Pariahs: Famous People Who Were Hated in Their Time

Time provides perspective. Many beloved figures from history we celebrate today were hated, or at best ignored, when they were living. 

These important historical figures weren’t appreciated in their own time. 

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait in the National Gallary of Art Washington DC.
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One of the most famous painters in history was ridiculed and institutionalized when he was alive. Van Gogh had a mental illness, and his contemporaries didn’t appreciate his genius. 

His brother’s wife promoted him when he passed as a way to survive, and her efforts catapulted him into stardom. 

Edgar Allen Poe

A spooky raven with a desolute background in black and white to represent Edgar Allen Poe.
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Poe died alone and miserable, likely suffering from Rabies. Though people did read and appreciate his work during his life, he wasn’t well-liked. 

Abraham Lincoln

A black and white photo potrait of Abraham Lincoln.
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Today, we celebrate the 16th president as the man who led us through our nation’s most catastrophic events. He kept us together when everything was breaking at the seams. 

Everyone hated him at the time. The South clearly wanted to succeed, and even many in the North didn’t think the war was worth the effort. 

Emily Dickenson

A Penguin book of Emily Dickenson poems on a table next to a clay hand with flowers on it.
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Misogyny likely played a role in Dickenson’s struggles. Though today she’s found in nearly every English textbook in America, she struggled to gain acclaim as a poet during her lifespan. 

Alan Turing

Slate Statue of Alan Turing in Britain.
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Turing had a great mind, but his sexuality often overshadowed his accomplishments. The man helped usher us into the information age, but his contemporaries couldn’t relinquish their hatred for someone different. 

Ignaz Semmelweis

Close up of a peson washing their hands in a small white bathroom sink.
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Semmelweis isn’t a household name, but everyone sees his work all around them. He promoted handwashing to prevent the spread of illness but was ridiculed for his lofty ideas. 

Turns out he was right. We all benefited from his work. 

Isaac Newton

A monument to Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists of all time, in Wyndon park, Grantham. The monument shows a hand holding up a single apple to represent the story of Newton discovering gravity.
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Newton helped usher in the Age of Enlightenment. He showed us how the world works and gave us tools to calculate the laws of motion for ourselves. Today, he’s celebrated as one of the most influential scientists in history

Unfortunately, Newton’s offputting personality made him unlikable in his own time. People couldn’t stand his insufferable attitude. 


An image of the painting, THE DEATH OF SOCRATES, by Jacques Louis David, 1787.
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The Greeks hated Socrates so much that they sentenced him to death. Today, he’s renowned as one of the greatest philosophers ever to have lived. 


Portrait of Galileo Galilei used in Italian currency.
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Galileo’s ideas were at odds with the most powerful institution of his day: the Catholic Church. He was persecuted for daring to prove some of the Church’s teachings about the solar system wrong. 

Nikola Tesla

Illustration of Edison with his light bulb and Tesla with his plasma globe.
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Nikola Tesla had a fantastic mind and a kind heart. He wanted to make electricity free for everyone. Unfortunately, his capitalistic rival, Thomas Edison, had other plans. Tesla was ridiculed, while Edison catapulted to fame. 

Today, we better understand Tesla’s massive contributions to society. 

Martin Luther King Jr.

Statue of the iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington DC.
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Though we celebrate the iconic civil rights leader today, people at the time hated him. White folks resisted equal rights and often claimed he didn’t “protest correctly.”

Unfortunately, we still see the same resistance to change today. 

Sinéad O’Connor

Sinéad O’Connor performing live in Venice, 2013.
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Sinéad O’Connor was subjected to intensive ridicule after standing against the Catholic Church. She spoke out before the sexual abuse scandal came to light, and everyone turned their back on her. 

She was right, but the damage to her career and reputation was done. 

Charles Darwin

Statue of Charles Darwin in London's Natural History Musuem.
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People despise those who challenge their worldviews, and Darwin’s work was a doozy. Darwin’s theory of evolution turned biblical creation on its head. 

Although most recognize his theory as accurate, many still hate him and his ideas. 

Gone Too Same: Celebrity Passings We Still Aren’t Over

Alan Rickman during 70th Venice Film Festival on September 04, 2013 in Venice, Italy
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Sometimes celebrity deaths hit us in the gut. We’re still mourning these tragic passings

Explore The Most Famous Paintings of All Time

group of fine art paintings in frames
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Want to be an artist? Learn from the best! Here are the most famous paintings in all of art history.

Morbid Travel Destinations

Women dressed in Vampire cosplay to represent horror conventions.
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Some folks can’t get enough of the macabre. Here are the morbid travel destinations that see the most travelers. 

Meet the Women of Norse Mythology

Close view of the Gefion Fountain near Langelinie Street. The bronze scultpture depicts Gefjon, one of the Norse Goddesses.
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Beautiful, Powerful, Intellegent, and Divne, these women showcase the best attributes of womanhood. 

Discover them here: The Norse Goddesses You’ll Want To Worship

What’s the Difference between Astronomy and Astrology?

Telescope image of nebulas in the far reaches of a galaxy to represent astronomy vs. astrology.
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One is a hard science, while the other is a belief system. Learn the difference between astronomy and astrology and discover why each holds a valid place in the world. 

Source: Reddit