Whilst researching my new book, I came across some rather odd people:
Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)
The inventor and futurist, who designed the first alternating current (AC) electrical supply system, also died a virgin. This extremely eccentric individual would work from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm every day and have his dinner served at exactly 8.10 pm at the same restaurant, insisting that he always have the same waiter to serve him. When being asked by a reporter why he never married, Tesla replied, “I do not think you can name any great invention made by a married man”.
Hans Christian Anderson (1805 – 1875)
The wonderfully weird writer of fairy-tales declared his love for many prominent, ultimately unavailable women. He enjoyed visiting prostitutes, but only to sit and chat with them. He died unmarried and a virgin and was so terrified about being buried alive he insisted in his will that one of his arteries was to be cut before he was put in his coffin.
Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727)
One of the most influential scientists of all time, he was a lifelong bachelor with some very peculiar views on life. He was said only to have laughed just once in life, when someone asked him what he saw in Euclid. During his time as a member of parliament, he spoke only once, and that was to tell someone to close a window. He famously never spoke to a colleague at the Royal Society ever again after being told a rude joke about a nun.
Henry Morton Stanley (1841 – 1904)
He, of “Dr Livingstone, I presume” fame, married the high-society portrait painter Dorothy Tennant at the age of forty-nine in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The marriage was never consummated, for on his wedding night he told his wife that he considered sex “only fit for beasts”.
Mahatma Ghandi (1860 – 1948)
When in his thirties and the father of four children, he decided to take a vow of celibacy, thus giving him more control over his “vital fluids” which, in turn, would enhance his spiritual powers and give him strength during his many bouts of fasting. Posterity does not record Mrs Ghandi’s response when, in his seventies, he took to sleeping with naked young women to “test” his celibacy. This did not go down well with his followers and he later abandoned his nocturnal experiments.
Edward Lear (1812 – 1888)
Living alone with his cat, the Victorian nonsense-poet and artist wrote limericks about men (as in there was a young man from St Ives, etc.) who he drew with long, unmistakably phallic noses. The closest he came to marriage was with Augusta Bethell, a woman 46 years his junior; his proposals were sadly not accepted. Throughout his adult life he suffered from what he called “the morbids” — a mild form of epilepsy which he believed was caused by his excessive masturbation.