Interesting People To Write An Essay About
This is a selection of inspirational people, people who have made a lasting contribution towards creating a better world. These people have inspired others by their various achievements, but also by their attitude and values.
Note: This does not aim to be a fully comprehensive list, rather it provides a start for further research. If you would like to suggest anyone else who you feel is inspirational, feel free.
Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) Campaigned for justice and freedom in his native South Africa. Mandela spent 20 years in jail for his opposition to apartheid. After his release, he became the first President of Democratic South Africa and helped heal the wounds of apartheid by his magnanimous attitude to his former political enemies.
Mikhail Gorbachev (1931–) Had the courage, tenacity and strength of character to give up the absolute power of Soviet Communism. Gorbachev moved the Soviet Union towards democracy and respect for human rights. In doing so he enabled the Berlin Wall to come down and Eastern Europe gained freedom from Communist control.
Martin Luther King (1929–1968) Inspiring leader of the non-violent civil rights movement. Inspired millions of people, black and white, to aspire for a more equal and just society.
Jesus Christ (c5 BCE–30 CE) Prophet and the inspiration of Christianity. Taught a message of love, forgiveness and faith. He was born in a turbulent period of Roman rule, and after his crucifixion, his message inspired millions around the world.
William Wilberforce (1759–1833) Fought tirelessly for ending the slave trade, at a time when many accepted it as an ‘economic necessity’. He awakened the conscience of many of his fellow countrymen and helped to make slavery appear unacceptable.
Albert Einstein (1879–1955) His theories of relativity were a very significant scientific breakthrough. As well as being a genius scientist, Einstein was also a champion of human rights and campaigned for a more peaceful world.
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) One of the United States of America’s founding fathers. Jefferson helped draft the Declaration of Independence and he held a deep-seated belief in human rights. Jefferson passed one of the first bills on religious tolerance in his state of Virginia. He sought to improve education and was a noted polymath with a wide range of interests.
Mother Teresa (1910–1997) A modern day saint who sought to identify with and offer compassion to the unloved and destitute. She lived a life of voluntary poverty and service to the poor.
Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) Abraham Lincoln overcame many setbacks to become the most influential American President. In his famous Gettysburg speech, he inspired the nation with his noble words and helped to bring about the abolishment of slavery.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) One of the greatest minds in human history. In many areas, he was a couple of centuries ahead of scientific discovery. He helped make great advances in anatomy, astronomy, physics, science and in other fields as well. Amidst all this, he found time to paint the most iconic picture in history – The Mona Lisa.
Helen Keller (1880–1968) Despite disability of both deafness and blindness, she learned to read and write, becoming a champion of social issues and helping to improve the welfare of deaf people.
Muhammad Ali (1942–2016) Champion boxer and great character. Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam war and became a champion of civil rights and African interests. When asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said: “As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.”
Joan of Arc (1412–1431) As a young, illiterate peasant girl, Joan of Arc inspired the Dauphin of France to defeat the English. Although burned at the stake for ‘heresy’, her prophecy of French unity came true after her death.
Benjamin Franklin. (1706–1790) Great polymath and promoter of American ideals at home and in the US. A practical man of great dynamism and good character.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) Gandhi was the principle figurehead of the Indian independence movement. Taught a philosophy of non-violence and peaceful protest.
Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) Nightingale volunteered to nurse soldiers during the Crimean War. Her statistical analysis of the pitiful conditions she found, and her management of them, helped to revolutionise the service of nursing and the treatment of patients.
Harriet Tubman (1822–1913) Tubman escaped from slavery but returned on many dangerous missions to Maryland where she helped lead slaves to freedom. She also served as agent and leader during the Civil War.
Winston Churchill (1874–1965) In the worst moments of 1940, the Nazi war machine looked invincible as it swept through Europe. Churchill inspired the free nations to keep alive the fight against the tyranny of Hitler’s Germany.
Anne Frank (1929–1945) Anne Frank was nobody special, just an ordinary teenage girl. But she became a symbol of how ordinary people can get caught up in Man’s inhumanity. Despite the most testing of conditions, Anne retained an optimistic spirit and faith.
Socrates (469 BC–399 BC) Socrates showed the power and integrity of independent thought. He taught by encouraging people to honestly question their preconceptions. His method of self-enquiry laid the foundations of Western Philosophic thought.
George Orwell (1903–1950) George Orwell was a democratic socialist who fought in the Spanish civil war on the side of the Republicans. He gave up his privileged education to spend time with the unemployed of the Great Depression. His greatest contribution was warning about the dangers of totalitarian regimes, whatever the ideology may be behind them.
Buddha (c 563–483BC) The Buddha was a young prince who gave up the comforts of palace life to seek the meaning of life by meditating in the wilderness. After gaining realisation, the Buddha spent the remainder of his life travelling around India teaching a middle path of meditation and inner peace.
Sri Chinmoy (1931–2007) An Indian spiritual teacher who combined the best of Eastern and Western cultures. He founded the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, a worldwide run to promote peace and greater understanding.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) Shakespeare remains the king of English literature. His plays and poetry captured the richness and diversity of human existence in the most powerful and poetic way.
St Therese de Lisieux (1873–1897) A Carmelite nun, who died aged 24, unknown to the world. Yet after her death, her simple writings had a profound effect, becoming one of the best selling spiritual writings. Her approach was a simple approach of doing the smallest acts with love.
Desmond Tutu (1931–) Nobel Peace Prize winner. Campaigner against apartheid and instrumental in promoting human rights and justice. Tutu helped to heal the wounds of apartheid in South Africa.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) Helped draft United Nations declaration of human rights. Strived to improve civil rights in the US. Inspired many people because of her positivity, compassion and self-giving.
Edward Jenner (1749–1823) Led pioneering work on the development of an inoculation against deadly smallpox. Opened up the way to more immunisation treatments, arguably saving the lives of millions of people around the world.
Jesse Owens (1913–1980) Jesse Owens’ four gold medals at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin was one of the great moments of sport, which helped to puncture the Nazi ideology of Aryan supremacy. Jesse Owens was a modest hero who remained a great ambassador for Sport.
Akbar (1542–1605) The great Moghul Emperor who went a long way to uniting India under his rule. Although a great warrior, Akbar was also known for his love of culture, music and philosophy. He introduced enlightened laws on religious tolerance in his kingdom and encouraged representatives of different religions to come to his court.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) One of the greatest scientists of all time. Isaac Newton led the foundation of modern physics with his development of theories of gravity and mechanics.
Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) Influential Russian author, whose great epics include War and Peace. His philosophy of non-violence and a return to rural simplicity inspired other politicians such as Gandhi.
Emil Zatopek (1922–2000) Greatest long-distance runner, winning three gold medals at the 1954 Olympics. He was a principled supporter of Czech democracy, being sent to work in mines for his opposition to the Communist government.
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) One of the most popular female poets who wrote unique, uplifting poems which captured the imagination of many people.
Sri Krishna (c. 3000 BCE) Sri Krishna was a great Spiritual Teacher who gave the immortal discourses in the Bhagavad Gita, teaching a practical yoga for all.
J R R Tolkien ( 1892–1973) Writer and creator of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien was a modest professor at Oxford University but found time to create a whole mythical world.
William Blake (1757–1827) Mystical poet and artist. William Blake wrote poems of great depth and power, celebrating both the joys of spirit and nature and also fiercely criticising the injustice of the times.
Pope John Paul II (1920–2005) Lived through two totalitarian regimes, eventually becoming a priest and then the first Polish pope. He was a charismatic spiritual leader who retained great faith in moral and spiritual values.
Mozart (1756–1791) Music genius who composed a range of breathtaking music from piano concertos to his immortal Requiem.
Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902 ) a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda helped spread Sri Ramakrishna’s message and mission to the West.
St Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) Christian mystic and writer. She also played a key role in the Spanish church at a time when women were largely marginalised.
B.R Ambedkar (1891–1956) Indian social reformer. Ambedkar was born in the Mahar ‘untouchable’ caste but became a pioneering political activist and social reformer. He was the principal figure in the drafting of the Indian Constitution, which outlawed ‘untouchability’ and promoted equality.
Marie Curie (1867–1934) Marie Curie is the only person to win a Nobel Prize for both Chemistry and Physics. Her discoveries with radiation helped advance medical science. Her achievements were even more remarkable at a time when few women had the opportunity to gain an education.
Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) Woodrow Wilson had a vision for a League of Nations a forum where nations could come together to solve disputes. The League of Nations struggled to make an impact before the Second World War, but his vision was important in the development of the United Nations.
Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) Susan Anthony was an active member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, despite meeting hostility she continued to press for an amendment to the US constitution to outlaw slavery. She was also a prominent women’s rights activist who helped push forward the women’s suffrage campaign in the Nineteenth Century.
Rosa Parks (1913–2005) Rosa Parks became a well respected figurehead of the American civil rights movement. Rosa showed what ordinary people can do when they stick fast to their beliefs in testing conditions.
Tom Paine (1737–1809) English-American writer and political activist. He wrote influential pamphlets arguing for independence for the US, and the end of slavery. He was a key figure of the enlightenment and age of reason, supporting the revolutionary principles of US and France.
Charles Darwin (1809–1882) Darwin published his Origin of Species detailing a belief in evolution at a time when such a decision was very controversial.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945 ) was a Lutheran Pastor who was an influential critic of Hitler and Nazism, executed in 1945. His theology and writings remain influential today.
Dalai Lama (1938– ) The fourteenth Dalai Lama has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his non-violent resistance to Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama teaches a path of tolerance and compassion.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) Poet, writer, humanitarian, Tagore was the first Indian to be awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.
Oprah Winfrey (1954– ) Influential talk show host. Oprah Winfrey has become a role model for African American women.
Maximilian Kolbe (1894–1941 ) was a Franciscan priest who encouraged devotion to Mary and was committed to praying for those hostile to the Church. In 1941, he was arrested for sheltering Jews and sent to Auschwitz. He volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to death.
Eric Liddell (1902–1945) Eric Liddell won Olympic gold in the 400m in the 1924 Paris Olympics. He is also famed for turning down the opportunity to compete in the 100m because the heats were on a Sunday. Eric was an accomplished sportsman also representing Scotland at rugby union.
Pope Francis (1936– ) The first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas, he has sought to reform the Vatican and the Catholic church. Pope Francis has stressed the importance of humility, modesty and concern for the poor. He is seen as a reforming Pope, trying to bring back the tradition of emphasis on the Gospels.
Malala Yousafzai (1997– ) Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education for girls. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for women’s rights, especially the right to education.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Inspirational People“, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 7th May 2013. Last updated 1 March 2018.
Courageous people – People who overcame difficult circumstances with great courage and strong principles.
People who fought for human/civil rights – People who campaigned for equality, civil rights and fairer treatment of individuals.
Women’s Rights Activists – Women who championed the cause of women’s rights.
Soon another year will begin. Another year filled with exciting book releases and new, compelling voices emerging from the different depths of the writing world. I asked my friends, co-workers, and random people on the internet to let me know which articles and essays stood out to them this year. I wanted to know what moved them, inspired them, or compelled them to think about their life, opinions, and relationships. What were the pieces they read that they absolutely had to share with at least one person? So they told me and here I have this list of 18 articles and essays published in 2014 from many incredible writers. Check it out and take a look back at some thought-provoking moments in writing this year.
1. My Grandma the Poisoner – John Reed
“You don’t want to believe your grandmother is poisoning you. You know that she loves you—there’s no doubt of that—and she’s so marvelously grandmotherly and charming. And you know that she would never want to poison you. So despite your better judgment, you eat the food until you’ve passed out so many times that you can’t keep doubting yourself.”
2. A Tale Of Two Hipsters – Dale Beran
“This essay is an effort to use critical analysis to unravel the term “hipster” into a lattice of ideas that is clear, makes plain sense, and so therefore explains things which before to us seemed hopelessly tangled. Most articles on this topic claim the term is unknowable. This is because the word, like the entire notion of indefinable rhizomic culture movements, is ideology. It is the means by which an outside group has defined, divided, and de-legitimized the radical in our present generation.”
3. Bad Victims – Roxane Gay
“People who have been sexually assaulted know there are good victims and bad victims. Good victims, of course, do not exist but they are an elaborate ideal. They are assaulted in a dark alley by a known criminal who has a knife or a gun. They are modestly dressed. They report their assault immediately to law enforcement and submit, willingly, to a rape exam. They answer all questions about their assault lucidly and completely as many times as is necessary. They are adequately prepared for trial. They don’t pester the prosecutor as he or she prepares for trial. When they testify, they are modestly dressed. They are the girl or boy next door. They deserve justice because they are so righteous in their victimhood.”
4. Naked, Covered in Ram’s Blood, Drinking a Coke, and Feeling Pretty Good – Andrew Solomon
“And then when I had finished the Coke, they said, “Okay, now we have the final parts of the ritual. First you have to put your hands by your sides and stand very straight and very erect.” And I said, “Okay,” and then they tied me up with the intestines of the ram. In the meanwhile its body was hanging from a nearby tree, and someone was doing some butchering of it, and they took various little bits of it out. And then I had to kind of shuffle over, all tied up in intestines, which most of you probably haven’t done, but it’s hard.”
5. I Don’t Want To Be Right – Maria Konnikova
“Normally, self-affirmation is reserved for instances in which identity is threatened in direct ways: race, gender, age, weight, and the like. Here, Nyhan decided to apply it in an unrelated context: Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns out, it would. On all issues, attitudes became more accurate with self-affirmation, and remained just as inaccurate without. That effect held even when no additional information was presented—that is, when people were simply asked the same questions twice, before and after the self-affirmation.”
6. The Year I Grew Wildly, While Men Looked On – Ashley Ford
“Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around myself. My clothes weren’t small. They were a little tight. That was only because my body kept growing, but only in certain places. I did my best to cover myself, to hide it, to keep looking like someone’s little girl, but I was visibly losing the battle, and had been for some time. It wasn’t just me. We were all changing. I enjoyed watching the other girls in the locker room undress, and I kept track of their growth. But I didn’t want to make them feel like I felt. I didn’t want to make them feel ogled. Did they hate this too?”
7. Snackwave: A Comprehensive Guide To The Internet’s Saltiest Meme – Hazel Cills and Gabby Noone
“It’s important to note that snackwave is different from, say, a bunch of girls eating snacks and tweeting about them. Snackwave is defined by exaggeration and extremism. You don’t just eat cheeseburgers. You wear a shirt covered in them. You don’t just eat pizza. You run a blog devoted to collecting pictures of celebrities eating pizza. In a world of Women Laughing Alone With Salad, snackwave is our saviour.”
8. All My Exes Live in Texts: Why the Social Media Generation Never Really Breaks Up – Maureen O’Connor
“All my exes live online, and so do their exes, and so do their exes, too. I carry the population of a metaphorical Texas in a cell phone on my person at all times. Etiquette can’t keep up with us—not that we would honor it anyway—so ex relationships run on lust and impulse and nosiness and envy alternating with fantasy. It’s a dozen soap operas playing at the same time on a dozen different screens, and you are the star of them all. It’s both as thrilling and as sickening as it sounds.”
9. “Everything Is Problematic” – My journey into the centre of a dark political world, and how I escaped – Aurora Dagny
“I’ll be graduating soon, and I’ve been thinking about my years in Montreal with both nostalgia and regret. Something has been nagging at me for a long time. There’s something I need to say out loud, to everyone before I leave. It’s something that I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but I’ve struggled to find the right words. I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out. I have many fond memories from that time, but all in all, it was the darkest chapter of my life.”
10. I Don’t Know What To Do With Good White People – Brit Bennett
“Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I’d prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?”
11. Toward An Entish Civic Ideology – James Barnes
“Stop affiliating with a party, even as simple shorthand. We have to quit demonizing entire groups of people we don’t know. Discuss ideas—not people, not regions, not backgrounds—but ideas. It is ideas that matter in formulating plans and solving problems, not fears. Refuse to do what you’re told only because someone says “time is short.”
12. The Night A Corndog Basket in Tennessee Saved My Life – Cock D.
“I made my way up a steep hill to Drifter’s BBQ. I walked in to find a pretty young girl behind the bar. She glowed with the spirit and naivety of a gaggle of orphaned boys playing an impromptu game of baseball in the middle of a dirt road. She was beauty, and if I had the ability to feel the basic human emotion of love in that moment, I might have fallen for her. She didn’t offer much for conversation, most likely ‘cause I smelled of my own shit, but her presence was warming and reminded me of a better man’s childhood, free of responsibility or molestation. She filled a hole in me, and was at least nice enough to let a scoundrel stay for lunch.”
13. Ask Polly: Would He Love Me If I Were Prettier, Skinnier, And Sweeter? – Heather Havrilesky
“But you also sum up so many wasted hours of so many women’s lives with this: “Clearly he has the capacity to care, just not about me. And I don’t understand why.” This is something stupid that smart women do regularly: They believe that they can understand anything if they just think about it hard enough. “Why? Why not me?” they ask, certain that the answer will reveal itself. “Can it really be that I’m not good enough to MAGICALLY CHANGE A NARCISSISTIC, AIMLESS, DRUNK FROG INTO A PRINCE?” None of the equations add up or make even the slightest bit of sense, but we just keep on writing them down, scribbling out numbers until our wrists ache. It’s like A Beautiful Mind except instead of winning a Nobel Prize you win a weekend of weeping on your bathroom floor.”
14. Shame and Survival – Monica Lewinsky
“It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person.”
15. Dear Straight Women Everywhere: In Relationships, You Always Have The Upper Hand – Rachel Hodin
“Present in all of these men’s words is evidence that, for a man, there is nothing more forceful or intoxicating than the initial sight of a beautifully captivating woman. It will lead them to disloyalty, to lose concentration on their work, and even to insanity.”
16. Fuck Yes or No – Mark Manson
“Why would you ever be excited to be with someone who is not excited to be with you? If they’re not happy with you now, what makes you think they’ll be happy to be with you later? Why do you make an effort to convince someone to date you when they make no effort to convince you?”
17. Girlfriend – Wendy C. Ortiz
“I was dying to get out of my life, the one where I was a girlfriend, a really bad girlfriend, a girlfriend who cheated and got drunk a lot and threw up on her boyfriend’s floor which was really his mom and dad’s floor, and my boyfriend who was just this guy, really, a nice decent guy, the most decent of his friends but all my friends knew that we did not have fuck all in common, leaving me with this guy and his friends who I felt some weird kinship with, and why? Just why?”
18. My Receipt Was Not Good Enough – Roxane Gay
“I paid for everything with a friendly salesperson in the video game area because that’s what you have to do with certain items. Then I went to the bathroom and then I headed for the front of the store. Now, the game was still in its security case. When I got to the front, I showed my receipt for the case to be removed. The young man studied my receipt like it was the most important document he had ever seen. My skin started prickling because I knew something really frustrating was about to happen. I just knew. Anyone who has been racially profiled knows that feeling.”