Despite the fact that humans lived on this land for around 2 million years, the history of the world did not begin until about 5500 years ago, with the beginning of writing, as writing has been the only means to know what people had documented about themselves, their lives, the important events that took place around them, and their civilizations. Millions and millions of people have passed through this Earth throughout the ages. Hence, deciding who are the most important people in history is not an easy task.
Standards vary, criteria differ from one time to another and from one culture to another, so evaluating them is quite relative. However, after searching various sources and different cultures, we will be listing the most important people in the world without numbering or prioritizing them.
Important people are not always good people but the ones who have made the greatest influence or change in Mankind, this could be for the better or the worse. The characters will be categorized into five categories; science, politics, art, literature, and a special section for women.
In creating this article, we depended on several sources, among them is a list chosen by Michael H. Hart, from his famous book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. He chose people based on those who make a radical and evident change to the world. In addition to important persons that are agreed upon from various other sources.
In the category of politics, presidents, kings and state officials were excluded from this listing as their influence was mainly due to their positions, unless they have caused dramatic change to the world. The listing is arranged chronologically, from the oldest to the newest in each category.
Cài Lún (Chinese politician and paper inventor 50-121)
Cài Lún, also Tsai Lun, is the inventor of paper and the process of papermaking. He was an official at the Chinese royal court. In 105 BCE he presented Emperor Hu models of paper. There were other types of paper before Cai’s invention; however, his version was affordable and had better quality and durability. His version of paper soon beat all previous versions of paper whether those made of wooden slips or bamboo. The details of the papermaking process soon reached the Islamic State in the Middle East and were later transmitted to Europe. The invention of modern paper had a great impact on the whole world and on human history.
The Chinese Emperor approved the invention of Cài Lún, and he was raised in rank, given an aristocratic title, and became wealthy. He strengthened his relationship with the empress and increased his power in the royal court. However, later on, he got involved in the intrigues of the court which ended his power, and when he learned the news of his shame and disgrace, he bathed and wore his finest clothes and drank poison. Michael Hart gave him the 7th rank in his book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi (Muslim mathematician 780-850)
Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, born Khwarazm, Khurasan (modern Uzbekistan). He contributed to many achievements in several fields, such as mathematics, geometry, geography, and astronomy. His most brilliant achievements are the introduction of Hindu-Arabic numerals (220.127.116.11.5.6,7,8,9,0), the concept of algebra in mathematics which was transmitted to Europe later, and the invention of zero.
Another most recognized work of al-Khwarizmi is the mathematical concept of Algorithm that is found in Al-Khwarizmi’s text written about 1200 years ago, so that the Latin version of his name (Algorithm) and the name of his most famous books are found in algebra terminology until nowadays. Algorithms are fundamental today in computer science.
Al-Khwarizmi corrected the Greek geography, in his Book of Pictures of the Earth, in which he determined the coordinates of geographical locations, and showed that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are not surrounded by land. He also drew the first geographical map, and measured the size and circumference of the globe.
Al-Khwarizmi developed astronomical tables, and tables of pocket values. Al-Zawiya, and presented a group of research papers related to the astrolabe, the Jewish calendar, the sundial, and several other achievements. Al-Khwarizmi died in 847 CE.
Galileo Galilei (Italian philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician 1564-1642)
Galileo Galilei studied medicine at the University of Pisa. Later, he occupied the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua. He was known to be a polymath, as he mastered several fields, such as astronomy, engineering, physics, and mathematics, also known as the father of observational astronomy and modern sciences.
Galilei claimed that the Sun is the center of the Universe, and advocated it, which made the Catholic Church condemn him for “vehement suspicious of heresy”. He developed several telescopes to observe the Moon surface and phases, the phases of Venus, Jupiter’s four moons.
Galilei also developed several geometric and military compasses, in addition to constructing a thermometer and a compound microscope to magnify parts of insects. He had great contributions to the sciences of motion, strength of materials and the law of falling bodies, and parabolic trajectories.
Isaac Newton (English physicist and mathematician 1642-1727)
Isaac Newton received his education at Cambridge University in 1661 CE, and developed his theories in calculus, integration, light science, and colors. He was interested in physics and mathematics; he discovered the laws of motion and the force of gravity after the apple fell on the ground from a tree while he was sitting beneath it.
Newton was also a pioneer in the field of physical optics. Newton authored several books, the most important among them is his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Michael Hart gave him the 2nd rank in his book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.
Thomas Edison (American inventor and businessman 1847–1931)
Thomas Edison was born in Ohio. He had hearing issues at such a young age; however, his early career began as a telegraph operator which inspired him with some of his inventions. He developed many devices in fields and had a great impact on modern industrialism. As credit goes to him for inventing the motion picture camera, and early versions of the electric light bulb.
His contribution in fields like electric power generation, and mass communication, had a great impact on people’s lives all over the world. He was such a persistent person, one of his famous quotes “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison was famous for never giving up, he also could achieve a total of 1,093 patents.
Albert Einstein (German-American physicist (1879-1955)
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm in the German Empire, to Jewish parents. He later gave up his German citizenship and became Swiss and American. He is famous for being the father of relativity, being the author of the famous special relativity and general relativity that were the early foundations of modern theoretical physics.
Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921, for his explanation of the phenomenon of the photoelectric effect. He developed the theory of relativity, defined the mass-energy equivalence equation, and the theory of Brownian motion.
Einstein immigrated to the United States during WW2 after receiving death threats from the Nazis where he gave up his German nationality. His famous equation E = mc2 paved the way to developing atomic energy studies.
Alexander the Great (Macedonian king 356-323)
Alexander the Great was born in Macedonia, Greece. His father was Philip II, King of Macedonia, and his mother was Queen Olympia. He learned equestrianism, archery, and mathematics. He was tutored by Aristotle in philosophy, poetry, theater, science, and politics. After the murder of his father, he became king of Macedonia at the age of 19.
Alexander had an expansive colonial vision, so he led a campaign on the Persian Empire, and was able to defeat them in several Battles; in Greece, Egypt, Iraq, India, and Persia, he won all his battles and was never defeated. He used to establish a city named “Alexandria”, after him, in every land he conquered; however, the Egyptian city of Alexandria was the greatest capital of culture and knowledge. He died in 323 BCE for unknown reasons in Babylon, Iraq at the age of 32 years old.
Napoleon Bonaparte (French Emperor 1769-1821)
Napoleon Bonaparte or Emperor Napoleon I (1804–1814/15), a military commander of the French forces, controlled Italy and some parts of Austria in a war that involved most of the European powers at the time.
Then, he seized Egypt, in order to obstruct the British access to India and to have a strong presence in the Middle East which put Britain and Russia on the edge, especially after allying with the Ottoman Empire. French Egyptologists could accomplish important discoveries, such as the Rosetta Stone, which contributed to deciphering the hieroglyphic symbols.
Napoleon returned to France and led a military coup against the revolution that took place in France, and was able to control it, and conclude peace treaties with Italy, Austria, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. He was elected as First Consul in France, and in 1804 a law was passed according to which Napoleon Bonaparte was appointed emperor.
To commemorate his victories, he ordered to build the Arc de Triomphe. After Russia broke its alliance with France, Napoleon invaded Russia, which resulted in a European alliance against France that included Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal in a new coalition. Napoleon eventually was defeated and exiled as an emperor. In 1821, he died in exile on Saint Helena Island after the rapid deterioration of his health.
Mahatma Gandhi (Indian reformer 1869-1948)
Mahatma Gandhi or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, nicknamed the Mahatma, meaning a person with a great soul, was born in Porbandar, India, where he grew up under a ruling family, his father was a minister, his grandfather was a prime minister, and his family is distinguished with high morals and a Hindu-Jainism commitment. He was a vegetarian and committed himself to fast as a rule of purification. He supported peaceful resistance campaigns in India against the British occupation and provided assistance to the needy.
Gandhi studied law, practiced law for two years, traveled to London for further law studies. He then moved to South Africa to practice law where he had his first experience with racial discrimination which had a profound impact on him. He founded the Natal Indian Congress Party, in order to defend Indian workers which shortly made him the leader of the Indian community in South Africa. In 1913, Gandhi was imprisoned alongside hundreds of Indians and was released after negotiations over Indians’ rights.
After 21 years, Gandhi returned back to India in 1914 and started his struggle against the British government. His movement of non-violent action was called “Satyagraha” which was a source of inspiration to other world leaders, such as Mandla and Martin Luther King, and granted him thousands of followers and supporters. After being imprisoned again for The Salt March, Gandhi dressed in a homespun white shawl and sandals and held a walking stick in his hand.
During WW2, Gandhi led the movement “Quit India” calling for the independence of India from British colonization. A Hindu-Muslim conflict erupted, resulting in dividing Unified India into India and Pakistan. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu in 1948, after calling for respect of Muslims’ rights and ending the bloodshed.
Nelson Mandela (South African freedom fighter and president 1918-2013)
Nelson Mandela, locally known as Madiba, meaning “Father of the Nation”, was born in Mvezo, South Africa. He comes from a royal family in Mvezo. A freedom fighter who struggled against apartheid in South Africa, the supremacy of the white minority, racial segregation, and racial discrimination. He called for social justice and reconciliation.
Mandela won the Noble Peace Prize and is globally considered as an example for a non-violent social and political activist. In 1991, he was elected president of the African National Congress for 6 years, he also served as Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1998.
Mandela studied law and worked as a lawyer in Johannesburg where he got first introduced to African nationalist politics and anti-apartheid thoughts. He joined the African National Congress and co-founded the Youth League. After decades of struggle, Mandela received a 5-year prison sentence. However, he remained imprisoned for almost 18 years, moving between prisons. After his health deteriorated and being diagnosed with tuberculosis, he spent his last 14 months in a house annexed to prison, and in 1990 he was finally released from prison.
In 1994, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. He was the first black president of South Africa, elected in the first multi-ethnic and democratic election. His government focused on ending apartheid by addressing institutional racism, poverty, and inequality and promoting racial reconciliation. He refused to run for president after that and resigned from political and public life. He died in his house in Johannesburg in 2013.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Civil-rights Activist 1929-1968)
Martin Luther King was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was one of the men of the church corps, and he carried out many activities aimed at combating racial discrimination against blacks in the southern states of America. He was the youngest to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
As a teenager, King hated white people because of the constant and systematic racial humiliation he and his family and fellow black people had suffered in a segregated society. It was in high school that he developed his public speaking skills.in 1954 he became a church pastor. He gradually became more and more popular; however, he was arrested 29 times and sometimes jailed during his life.
King was an African-American leader, anon-violent human rights, and political activist, who called for ending social inequality and racial discrimination against blacks in the US. One of his most remarkable, profound, and renowned speeches was his 17-minute speech known as “I Have a Dream”.
King founded Southern Christian Leadership; a movement aimed at achieving equal civil rights for African Americans. King rejected violence of all kinds, and was himself a good example to his comrades and to many who were involved in the black struggle through his patience, kindness, wisdom, and reservation. Assassinated in 1968, by a white man, Martin Luther King was considered one of the most important figures who fought for freedom and human rights.
Leonardo da Vinci (Italian Renaissance artist and scientist 1452 – 1519 CE)
Leonardo da Vinci was born in the city of Vinci and he is one of the most famous Italian Renaissance artists of all time. He is a polymath, famous as a painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, mathematician, engineer, and anatomist. He had an eager soul for knowledge, so his discoveries and arts came as an assertion of his practical research. He had numerous effects on the art schools in Italy that extended for more than a century after his death.
Leonardo’s interest in scientific research comes in various fields, such as anatomy, optics, and mechanics. His innovative ideas are still present among many of the inventions of our time. Among his most famous paintings of all time is The Last Supper and the portrait of the Mona Lisa. Among his most famous inventions are an aerial screw, a steam cannon, some musical instruments, a mechanical knight, and hydraulic pumps.
His personal life was a topic of enthusiasm and interest to many, and the subject of many speculations within a few years after his death. Leonardo was considered an encyclopedic man and a master of the Renaissance. He was generally described as having qualities “beyond nature” and as “brilliant with an abundance of beauty and talent”. The Enthusiasm and interest in Leonardo’s personal life persisted beyond 500 years.
Wolfgang Mozart (Austrian composer 1756-1791 CE)
Wolfgang Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, an Austrian composer is considered one of the most famous creative geniuses in the history of music, although his life was short, he died at the age of 35 after he succeeded in producing 626 musical works.
Mozart began playing at the age of four. At the age of six began to participate in concerts. At the age of seven, Mozart participated in a concert tour of Europe with his family. He led an orchestra when he was seven years old. At the age of 13, he composed the first Italian opera in his life.
Mozart excelled in almost all types of musical composition, including 22 operas and 41 symphonies. Many of his works were fun and powerful, he also produced serious music to a great extent. His most important works include Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter), Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Cosi van Totti, 18 piano concertos, and other instruments, including the clarinet concerto.
Ludwig van Beethoven (German Composer 1770-1827 CE)
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer, musician, and pianist, one of the leading figures of the pre-Romantic era. He is considered one of the greatest and most influential music geniuses of all time. He created immortal musical works and had the greatest credit for developing classical music.
Beethoven’s compositions include nine symphonies, five piano and violin pieces, thirty-two piano sonatas, and sixteen string quartets. He also composed works for the literary salon and others for the choir, as well as songs. He moved to Bonn in his twenties. He was a bass singer in the Cologne electorate and was then promoted to become the band’s manager.
At the age of 26, Beethoven started developing hearing loss. He was suffering from severe ringing in his ears, which made it difficult for him to hear music well, he avoided conversations with people. What caused Beethoven’s deafness is unknown but is likely to be epidemic typhus. Over time, his hearing deteriorated further and reached the point where he could not hear anything.
It is reported that he composed the Ninth Symphony (Op. 125) and did not hear anything of it. During the first performance of the symphony in 1824, the audience greeted him with applause while standing five times, and they were throwing their hats and handkerchiefs in the air and raising their hands, in an attempt to draw the attention of deaf Beethoven to see that they were clapping for him.
Pablo Picasso (Spanish painter 1881-1973 CE)
Pablo Picasso was born in the city of Málaga, Andalusia; however, he spent most of his life in France. At his birth, his parents thought he was stillborn. He was a painter, sculptor, theater designer, and plastic artist. He is one of the most influential and famous artists of the 20th century. It is worth mentioning that he is credited as the founder of the Cubist movement in art.
Picasso completed his first painting by his ninth year. Picasso was asked in the investigations of the theft of the Mona Lisa. He was a poet and playwright. Picasso is still prized for his mastery of artwork, visual creativity, and deep empathy, all of which made him a revolutionary artist.
He was famous for his ability to endlessly recreate himself, transforming from one style to another so radically that his life seemed to be the product of five or six great artists rather than just one. He dedicated 80 years of his 91 for extensive work, as he falsely believed that work will keep him alive and prevent his death. He was famous for his renowned quotes, such as: “Art is the lie that enables us to perceive the truth”.
Charlie Chaplin (English actor and director 1889-977)
Charlie Chaplin was born in London, he is one of the leading English comedians, directors, composers, and screenwriters in the silent film era. Chaplin became an icon all over the world through his famous screen character; “the Tramp”, he is considered one of the most prominent figures in the history of the film industry. His career lasted for more than 75 years.
Chaplin lived a miserable childhood full of hardship and poverty. His father was a drunkard most of the time and his mother struggled to earn money and was admitted to a psychiatric clinic several times. He was sent to the reformatory twice before the age of nine. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring concert halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian.
At the age of 19, Chaplin signed a contract with a prestigious company, which sent him to the United States, allowing him to discover the film industry world. Chaplin started making his own films early on, and continued to hone his career until he became one of the world’s most recognizable personalities.
Chaplin became very popular and received several awards from all over the world. In a wheelchair, He received knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975. He was 88 years old when he died after suffering a stroke while sleeping.
Elvis Presley (American singer and actor 1935 –1977)
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, an American singer, songwriter, and actor. He is considered one of the most important cultural icons of the 20th century, and is often referred to as the “King of rock and roll” or simply “The King”. During his career, Elvis appeared in 31 films, recorded 784 songs, performed more than 1,684 concerts, and owned 18 first-rank hits.
Presley’s music career began in 1954 when he recorded a song for Sun Records. Presley was one of the pioneers of rockabilly, fast music that blended country and blues. Presley’s first single on this label, “Heartbreak Hotel”, released in 1956, was a huge hit in the United States. Presley’s lively singing and suggestive performances, along with his transgression of race lines at the dawn of the civil rights movement, made him a very popular and controversial figure.
Presley is one of the most famous and influential musicians as he has been commercially successful in many musical genres, including pop, blues, gospel and country. He is also one of the best-selling solo artists in recorded music history, with record sales of nearly 500 million units worldwide.
Presley won 3 Grammy Awards, in addition to a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement at the age of 36, and was inducted into several music halls of fame. His Graceland home is the most visited home in the United States after the White House. After years of prescribed drugs addition and wild life style, Presley suddenly died at the age of 42 of heart failure.
Homer (Greek poet c. 8th century BCE)
Homer or Homerus was a legendary Greek epic poet believed to be the author of the Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey; two iconic Greek epic poems. Ancient Greeks believed that Homer was a historical figure, but modern scholars have doubts, as there are no reliable translations of his biography surviving from the Classical Era. For some scholars, Homer is not the name of a historical poet, but a pseudonym.
It is said that the influence of Homer’s work that shaped and influenced the development of Greek culture was acknowledged by the Greeks who considered him their teacher. He is regarded as one of the greatest authors ever existed in the world of literature.
Dante Alighieri (Italian Poet 1265-1321)
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence, Italy, commonly known as Dante. He is considered a moral philosopher who is best known for his epic poem The Divine Comedy, which is one of the main works that mark the transition from medieval to Renaissance thought and is considered by many to be one of the best literary works in literature at the international level. Critics classify it as a masterpiece of Italian literature and one of the pinnacles of world literature. Dante is known as the “supreme poet” in Italian literature and the “Father of Italian”.
Dante was an active member of the political and military life of Florence. He joined the army as a young man and held important positions in the government of Florence. Dante participated in the political struggle of his time and was banished from his hometown. He was an active supporter of Italian unity. He wrote many sonnets and Latin treatises on literature, politics, and philosophy.
Dante was one of those great free men in history, who laid at the beginning of the European Renaissance the basis of the modern civil state that separates the authority of the Church from the authority of politics. Although Dante had never in his lifetime repudiated religion and faith as the directive of his life and production, the popes were angry with him.
In 1302 they condemned him to exile from his country, Florence, he was fined, and if he was to return to his homeland, he would be executed. He completed his last work Paradise and finally died in 1321 at the age of 56 on his way back from a diplomatic mission, believed to be caused by malaria.
After Dante’s death and being buried in Ravenna, the Florence government realized that they had made a grave mistake in his right, and tried to correct this mistake by persistently requesting the return of his remains to his hometown, which was rejected several times, so they built a tomb for Dante in 1829, in the Basilica of Santa Croce. However, the tomb has been empty ever since.
William Shakespeare (English author 1564-1616)
William Shakespeare was born in Warwickshire, England, he is one of the most famous and greatest dramatists and poets in the world. However, some historians question whether he actually existed. He started his life as an actor and then went on to write during the Renaissance Era.
Shakespeare was called the patriotic poet and the epic poet of Avon. His works consist of 39 plays, 158 short poems (sonnets), two stories (two long narrative poems), and some poems. It is worth mentioning that Shakespeare added more than 1700 new words to the English language. Shakespeare completed most of his famous works between 1589 and 1613.
His early plays were primarily about comedy and history, and are considered to be among the greatest works produced in this type of writing. Subsequently, he wrote mainly tragic theater until 1608. In his drama and poetry, he relied on humane emotions and feelings, which enhanced his universality and continuity.
The heroes of his tragic plays are distinguished by nobility, greatness, and human emotions, and they deeply affect the audience and readers, the comic characters still make the audience laugh because of their intelligence, accuracy, and humor. His female characters, such as Cleopatra, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, and Miranda, have the greatest impact on readers and audiences in theater and cinema.
Shakespeare’s mastery lies in the dramatic stories he uses in his plays, the rich repertoire of good and evil mixed characters, emotion and reason, eloquent poetic language, a mastery of wordplay, and new vocabulary. Among his most famous works are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. The Merchant of Venice. His most famous quote worldwide is “To be or not to be that is the question”.
Leo Tolstoy (Russian novelists 1828-1910)
Leo Tolstoy was born in the Tula province, south of Moscow, he comes from a royal dynasty. He is a Giant Russian novelist, social reformer, pacifist, moral thinker, and influential member of the Tolstoy family. He is considered one of the pillars of Russian literature in the 19th century, and some consider him one of the greatest novelists of all time.
Tolstoy worked as a soldier until 1855, participating in the Crimean War. After retiring from military service, he traveled to Western Europe. When he returned to his hometown, he began to apply the progressive educational theories, by opening a private school for the children of farmers. He established an educational magazine, in which he explained his educational ideas and disseminated them among the people.
As a moral philosopher, he embraced the ideas of nonviolent resistance that repels violence, a concept that was highlighted in his book The Kingdom of God Is Within You, a work that influenced 20th-century public figures, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in their struggles, which was characterized by the policy of nonviolent resistance.
Tolstoy’s most famous works are the two novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are at the top of realistic literature and they give a realistic picture of Russian life in that era. In addition to Resurrection which he wrote at the end of his life. Tolstoy died at the train station when he fled his home and a life of luxury and had pneumonia on the way, he was 82 years old.
James Joyce (Irish novelist 1882-1941)
James Joyce was in Dublin, Ireland, a novelist and poet of the 20th century, best known for his works novel Ulysses, short story collection Dubliners, and novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegans Wake.
James Joyce was educated at a Christian school, then attended Dublin University, and decided to become a writer. In 1902 he moved to Paris, France. His life was difficult, full of economic problems, he had chronic eye diseases that led him to blindness. He was treated for gonorrhea, he underwent 11 surgeries, in addition to his daughter’s mental illness.
With the financial aid of his companions, he spent seven years writing the controversial Ulysses (1922), which was initially banned in the United States and Britain. Today it is considered one of the greatest English language books of the 20th century. He spent 16 years writing his last work, Finnegans Wake (1939).
Jorge Luis Borges (Argentine writer 1899-1986)
Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires, Argentine. He is considered one of the most prominent writers of the 20th century. In addition to writing, Borges was a poet and critic and had several letters. His works have been translated into English, Swedish, Arabic, Italian, German, French, Danish, and Portuguese. He wrote philosophical literature and fantasy and had a great influence on Latin American literature.
Borges’ father’s family was of Spanish, Portuguese, and British ancestry, and his mother’s family was Spanish and may have Portuguese ancestry. His family at home spoke Spanish and English so Borges grew up bilingual. He grew up in the suburb of Palermo in a large house with a huge library.
Borges’ international fame began in the early 1960s. In 1961, he was awarded the Formentor Prize. The Italian government named him a Commendatore in his honor, and the University of Texas at Austin appointed him for one year. This led to Borges’s lecturing tour in the United States, and the first English translation of his work appeared in 1962. He toured Europe and the Andean regions of South America followed in later years.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom awarded him the Order of the British Empire in 1965. After that, Borges received dozens of honors in the following years, for example receiving the French Legion of Honor and the Cervantes Prize.
In addition to his famous short stories, Borges wrote poetry, essays, numerous plays, a great deal of literary criticism, editorials, book reviews, and a large number of anthologies. He was also an accomplished translator of literature from English, French, and German. His writing was affected by his loss of sight, which, as with his father before, began in his adult years. Borges died of liver cancer, at the age of 86, in Geneva.
Jim Thorpe (Native American athlete 1888-1953)
Jim Thorpe was a Native American and Caucasian athlete. Thorpe is considered one of the most accomplished and most important athletes in modern sports. He won several Olympic gold medals in the pentathlon and the decathlon in 1912. He also played American football and played on the professional teams in baseball as well as basketball. Thorpe was raised in Sac and Fox, Oklahoma, he played in several Native American teams throughout his career.
Thorpe played professional sports until he was 41 when the end of his athletic career coincided with the Great Depression. Thorpe was broke, struggling to earn a living, so he had to work some strange jobs. Thorpe was an alcoholic and lived his last years struggling in poverty.
He lost his Olympic titles after it was revealed he was paid to play two seasons of professional baseball semifinals before competing in the Olympics, breaking amateur rules. However, the International Olympic Committee restored his Olympic titles, in 1983, 30 years after his death.
In a survey of sports audiences conducted by the US Sports Broadcasting Corporation, Thorpe was crowned the greatest athlete of the 20th century among 15 other athletes, including Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan among others.
Pelé (Brazilian footballer 1940-present)
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, was born in Tres Caracos in Brazil. He is considered the best and most important player in the history of football. In Brazil, Pele is considered a national hero. He played as a striker and as a playmaker and he was famous for playing back balls. He grew up in poverty in São Paulo and worked since his childhood to earn money as a servant in a tea shop.
Pele started his football career with Santos FC at the age of fifteen and played with the Brazil national football team at the age of sixteen. He was able to win three FIFA World Cups with his country in 1958, 1962, and 1970, and he is the only player to achieve this feat, and he is also the historical top scorer for the Brazilian football team with 77 goals in 92 matches.
Pele is the most successful league goal scorer in the world, with 541 league goals according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. In his football career, Pele scored 1281 goals in 1363 matches he played, including unofficial friendly matches, and thus became the most goals scored in the history of football, and the number was included in the Guinness Book of Records.
During his football career, Pele was one of the highest-paid players in the world of football at the time, because of his talent, and in 1961 the President of Brazil declared Pele a national wealth. Pele had political weight, leading many policies aimed at improving the social conditions of the poor.
In 1999, he was chosen as the player of the century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, in the same year, Pele won the title of player of the century from France Football magazine after being nominated by the winners of the Golden Ball Award. Pele was also chosen as the athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee, also Time magazine nominated him for the list of the most important people of the 20th century.
Pele retired from football in 1977, and was appointed as a football ambassador around the world. In 2010, Pele was given the position of Honorary President of the New York Cosmos. In 2013, Pele was awarded the FIFA Ball of Honor by the International Football Association.
Muhammad Ali (American Boxer 1942-2016)
Muhammad Ali, original name Cassius Marcellus Clay, was born in Kentucky, US. The only boxer to win the world heavyweight championship three times.
Clay started boxing at the age of 12, he won his first gold medal in the Olympic Games in Rome, 1960, which kicked off his professional career in boxing. He was known for his strong personality and charm, he used to read poetry while in the ring and one of his famous quotes was “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
After beating the world’s heavyweight champion and becoming the new champion, Clay announced to the world that he had embraced Islam and changed his name into Muhammad Ali. For refusing to join the American Armed forced in the war in Vietnam, he was sentenced five years in prison and was banned from fighting in all US.
Ali’s popularity increased with the emergence of the civil rights movement, as sports were not his only concern, but he was interested in defending the rights of black people and black Muslims in America. After the ban was lifted, he participated in the matches held in 1974 and defeated his opponent and regained his title.
After retirement, Ali was appointed as an honorary consul in Chicago to Bangladesh in 1978, and he was President Carter’s personal envoy in 1980. Among lots of celebrations and awards, he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Muhammad Ali was suffering from kidney problems in addition to his Parkinson’s disease, like slow walking and stammering in speech. At the age of 74, he was hospitalized for a respiratory illness and announced dead in 2016.
Michael Jordan (American basketballer 1963-present)
Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, also known as MJ. He is a former important American basketball player, considered one of the best players in the history of basketball. He became the best athlete of his generation, the one who helped the United States basketball team excel in the 1980s and 1990s. He is now a member of the Charlotte Bobcats management team.
MJ played 15 seasons in the NBA, averaged 30.12 points per game in the regular season, the highest in NBA history, and won the NBA Championship 6 times with the Chicago Bulls, during that period he won the title of best player, and he won the top scorer title on 10 times, and he was the most expensive player in the league 5 times.
MJ was selected in the American League team 10 times, won the title of best defender 9 times, and won the title of best stealer of the balls 4 times. In 1993, Jordan retired, after the shocking murder of his father, stating that he lost interest in playing basketball. However, he returned to play for the Bulls in 1995, and for 8 years he was super active in the NBA.
Michael Schumacher (German racing driver 1969-present)
Michael Schumacher was born in Hürth-Hermülhein, West Germany, he was a Formula 1 legend who set records for the most gained titles, and is considered one of the greatest champions of Formula 1 and car racing in history. He won seven world titles, in addition to the Grand Prix in Formula 1, where he achieved the title of the fastest pole, fastest turn, and fastest start and turn in the same circuit.
Michael Schumacher was the first German to win the world most important title in Formula 1. In 2003, he became the first winner in the world of Formula 1 cars, after winning the 6th world title. In 2004 he broke a new record after achieving his 5th consecutive world title. After 16 consecutive seasons in Formula 1 from 1991 to 2006 and three years of hiatus, he decided to return to the racetrack again, where he played for the Mercedes team starting from the 2010 season after accepting the offer from the team.
After 3 years with the German team, Schumacher decided to announce his second retirement from official competitions. In 2013, Schumacher sustained a serious head injury while skiing. He was taken to hospital and put into a medically induced coma, after suffering brain injuries. He was in a coma for 7 months.
Schumacher was then discharged from the hospital for further rehabilitation at the University Hospital in Lausanne. In 2014, Schumacher was sent home to rest and rehabilitate. In November 2014, it was reported that Schumacher had been paralyzed while in a wheelchair as a result of the accident. In 2019, he regained consciousness after more than 5 years in a coma.
Jane Austen (English novelist 1775-1817)
Jane Austen was born in Hampshire, England, she was an important novelist, best known for six major novels, illustrating, criticizing, and commenting on the life of the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Her father was a cultured churchman who encouraged his children to love reading, writing, and learning, so the family was fond of several activities including acting.
She published four successful novels during her life; Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma. In addition to two other novels; Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (1817) published after her death. Her major novels are still published today, although they were originally published without her name and brought her little fame during her lifetime.
Beginning in 1816 Austin began to feel tired. She initially ignored the disease and continued to work and participated in the usual family activities. By the middle of the year her health had clearly deteriorated. This long, slow, and unstable state of deterioration led to her death the following year of a retrospective disease at the age of 41. In spite of the romance evidently present in her works, Jane had never got married and never had children.
Austen’s novels usually reveal women’s dependence on marriage in pursuit of social status and a stable income, and the English middle-class lifestyle, thoughts, and principles during the early 19th century. During the 20th and 21st centuries, Austen’s writings have inspired a large number of critical essays and anthologies, making her a world-renowned British author. Her novels have inspired several films as well.
Edith Cowan (Australian politician and social reformer 1861 – 1932)
Edith Cowan was born near Geraldton, Western Australia. She was an officer at the Order of the British Empire. Cowan was an important Australian social activist who worked for the rights and welfare of women and children. She is known to be the first Australian woman to serve as a Member of Parliament. Cowan has appeared on the back of the Australian $50 bill since 1995.
Cowan was the granddaughter of two important early settlers of the colony, her mother died when she was 7 years old, and she was later sent to a boarding school in Perth. When she was 14, her father was executed, making her an orphan. She lived with her grandmother until she got married at the age of 18.
Cowan was one of the founders of the Karrakatta Club, the first women’s social club in Australia. She became prominent in the women’s suffrage movement, which succeeded in making women in Western Australia vote in 1899. Cowan was also a leading advocate for public education and the rights of children, particularly those born to single mothers.
She was one of the first women to serve on a local board of education, she helped found the Society for the Protection of Children, whose lobbying for a children’s court paid off the following year. Cowan was one of the founders of the Women’s Service Guild, and she helped in establishing a branch of the National Council of Women.
Cowan was a key figure in the establishment of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women and became a member of its advisory board. In 1915, she became a Justice of the Peace, and in 1920, she was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as a member of the National Party, to become the first female parliamentarian in Australia. She was defeated after only one term but maintained a high position during her tenure.
Marie Curie (Polish physicist and chemist 1867 -1934)
Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland, and lived there until she was 24, then moved to Paris to join her older sister who traveled to study. Marie was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in history and the only one to get her twice and in two different fields. She was a physicist and chemist and won the Nobel Prize twice; 1903 in physics and 1911 in chemistry.
Curie and her husband discovered the two elements radium and polonium, identified the characteristics of each, and has many researches and experiments that made some discoveries such as radioactivity. It is reported that she participated in the First World War by providing assistance to the wounded and victims through a portable X-ray device,
She was known for her precedence and her research in the field of radioactive decay. She is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize (once in physics and once in chemistry), and she is the first woman to hold the rank of professor at the University of Paris. She and her husband, Pierre Curie, discovered the elements polonium and radium, and they shared the Nobel Prize in Physics, and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 alone.
Curie also worked on the development of a theory of radioactivity. She also devised techniques for separating radioactive isotopes, and under her supervision conducted the first studies to treat tumors using radioactive isotopes. She also established two Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw. During World War I, she became a member of the Free Poland Organization. Marie Curie died in 1934 of aplastic anemia, which she developed as a result of years of unprotected exposure to radiation.
Mother Teresa (Albanian nun 1910-1997)
Mother Teresa is Agnes Gonxa Bogacio from Albania. She was named Teresa after a French saint. She was an Albanian-Indian nun who was born in 1910 in Macedonia, in a pious Catholic family of Albanian origin. The family later emigrated to Yugoslavia, where they worked in agriculture. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
Early in her life, Agnes was educated at a school belonging to the Yugoslav Jesuit Order. At the age of 10, her father passed away, and she became more attached to the faith. In November 1928 she went to Dublin, Ireland, to study religion and to do some training, and in 1929 she was sent to Bengal. She was interested in charitable work, as she provided assistance to the poor.
In 1931, Agnes entered the monastic service and took the name Sister Teresa, and in 1937 she vowed and became Mother Teresa. In 1948, Mother Teresa took care of neglected children, and as a result, she took off her monastic dress and put on the white cotton Indian sari and the blue line with which she was later known.
Mother Teresa established shelters for them, centers for the elderly, the blind, and people with special needs, and she opposed contraception for women, and abortions. She is also known as the enemy of the feminist movement. Because she opposed empowering women to get rid of poverty, and she was also called the saint. She died in Calcutta in 1997 of a terminal illness.
Mother Teresa is a controversial figure during her life and after her death, as many people admired her for her humanitarian stances toward relief for the afflicted, the needy, and the poor in areas afflicted by diseases and famine, and for her opposition to abortion, while others criticized her for a variety of reasons, including not providing the necessary tools to relieve the burden of suffering. In 2017, Mother Teresa was made co-patron saint of the Catholic Diocese of Calcutta alongside Saint Francis Xavier.
Serena Williams (American tennis player 1981 – present)
Serena Williams was born in Michigan, USA, an important professional tennis player, currently ranked No. 1 in women’s singles tennis, and has been world No. 1 in 6 separate competitions. She ranked first in the world for the first time in 2002, and her 6th time was in 2013; to become the world’s oldest ranked No. 1 in history.
Serena and her sister Venus learned tennis from their father, then she took the professional path in 1995. Serena surpassed her elder sister and won the first Grand Slam singles title in 1999 and together they won the doubles event in the same competition, the team won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and this pair has never lost a Grand Slam final.
Experts consider Serena Williams the greatest tennis player in history. She is the only tennis player to have won over $66 million. Serena holds a record in winning tennis titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. She owns 38 Grand Slam titles: 22 singles titles, 14 doubles titles, and 2 mixed doubles titles.
Serena Williams is the only player, man or woman, to win 4 consecutive women’s singles Grand Slams (2002-2003). She is also the latest player, along with her sister, Venus Williams, to win consecutive Grand Slams in women’s doubles in the two years (2009-2010).
Serena won the Women’s World League Finals 5 times, she is one of five tennis players to have won all Grand Slam tournaments in two events (women’s singles and doubles). She won 4 gold medals, one in women’s singles, and three in women’s doubles with her sister Venus Williams.