Have you ever wondered about the famous recluses throughout history? As much as some of us might not want to admit it, being famous is a full-time job, something nobody knows better than celebrities. Whether running from paparazzi, being extra cautious not to say or do something wrong, or just having to accept that you can never have a nice outing with friends without being hammered for an autograph, being a public figure can be an annoying and exhausting ordeal. It’s hard to blame them when they finally decide enough is enough and go underground to avoid the constant attention.
Of course, fame isn’t the only thing that can lead to somebody to a completely private lifestyle; mental illness, poor health, or even just plain anti-social tendencies can all drive people to throwing in the towel and going off the grid. Unfortunately, absence is said to make the heart grow fonder, and a life of obscurity is often only an invitation for even more intrigue and investigation from devoted fans and nosy journalists. Here are 25 famous recluses from throughout history whose interesting lives of isolation have brought them more attention than they’d ever bargained for.
Nobody would blame you for not recognizing the name Steve Ditko, but we guarantee that you’ve almost certainly heard of his work. In the 1960s, Ditko worked with his fellow comic writer and artist, Stan Lee, to co-create the “Amazing Spider-Man.” He would later go on to walk away from his creations in 1966, retreating to his New York apartment, and refusing any press or interviewers, instead claiming that he preferred to speak through his work.
After resigning from his job as a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley, Ted Kaczynski, who would later come to be known as the infamous Unabomber, abandoned his career goals and moved into a small cabin outside of Lincoln, Montana. He struggled to live autonomously through nature for over 5 years with little to no contact with the outside world before eventually beginning his campaign of domestic bombings, which would result in the deaths of three individuals and injure 23 others.
Often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups,” Bettie Page was a successful model in United States during the 1950s. She had a measurable impact on American fashion, sexuality, and culture during the second half of the 20th century and worked with dozens of photographers before her retirement in 1959. Afterward, she moved to Florida and became a born-again Christian. Much of the latter part of her life was spent spent in relative obscurity as she battled mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia.
Best known for authoring the literary classic “Wuthering Heights,” Emily Brontë remains quite the mystery to us because of her very private and reserved lifestyle. Most of what we do know of Emily’s life is through the memoirs of her sister and fellow author Charlotte Brontë, who wrote that Emily preferred to live in a fantasy world of her own making, rarely interacting with others outside of her family unless she was forced to.
Despite winning national awards for his books “V,” “Gravity’s Rainbow,” and “Inherent Vice,” American novelist Thomas Pynchon is almost as famous for managing to stay out of the public eye for so long as he is his for his writing. In fact, very little regarding his appearance and private life is known at all, due to his successful avoidance of reporters and journalists for over 40 years.