A list of famous people who were single or remain unmarried for considerable periods. Many of these famous single people also lived a celibate lifestyle.
Jesus Christ – Spiritual Leader and founder of Christianity. Jesus Christ never married, but devoted his life to his spiritual teachings.
St Paul– Apostle of Christ. St. Paul was a strong advocate of celibacy. “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them if they so continue, even as I. ”
Lord Buddha – As a prince he was married, but left his wife and son to seek enlightenment in the forest as wandering ascetic. He lived the rest of his life as a celibate yogi.
Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431) – as a young peasant girl played key role in awakening the Dauphin of France, Charles, in leading fight back against occupying English army. Before she was believed, she had to undergo a test for her virginity. Later burnt at stake for ‘heresy’ aged 19.
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519) Artist and renaissance man. Da Vinci made many scientific discoveries. Da Vinci was so far ahead of his time, some of his contributions were not actually used. He appears to have lived his life single and celibate.
Mother Teresa – Nun who, from an early age, took vows of chastity and poverty, devoting her life to the service of the poor.
Queen Elizabeth I – Famous virgin queen of England.
Queen Elizabeth said: “It would please me best if, at the last, a marble stone shall record that this Queen having lived such and such a time, lived and died a virgin. ” During her life she was frequently pressured into marriage so she could produce a heir. To Parliament she said: “I have already joined myself in marriage to a husband, namely the kingdom of England.”
Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) – Spanish mystic, writer and reformer. St Teresa of Avila took the vows of celibacy to become a nun in the strict Carmelite order. St Terese of Avila was an influential and pivotal figure of her generation. She reformed and help to expand the Carmelite order.
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) A prominent American civil rights lawyer who played a leading role in advocating for universal suffrage and votes for women. She remained single
Emily Dickinson – Poet who lived much of her life in seclusion. She never married, though she kept a correspondence with some men.
Sir Isaac Newton – Although he got engaged in his teens, the relationship fell through, Newton was more interested in science and his scientific investigations coming up with the famous three laws of physics.
George Frederic Handel – Great composer who created famous pieces such as Messiah (HWV 56) On composing the Hallelujah Chorus, Handel wrote “Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it, I know not. God knows.” When King George II asked why he wasn’t married, he simply responded with: “I have no time for anything but music.”
Nikola Tesla – Nikola Tesla was a unique inventor who threw himself into discovering new advances in electronics and science. He had no interest in marriage and saw sex as a distraction from his life’s purpose. A famous actress of the time, Sarah Bernhardt, tried to attract him, but, he merely saw her as a distraction. When asked about marriage, he replied: “I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.”
Swami Vivekananda. Spiritual teacher and important figure in Indian renaissance of late nineteenth century. A great believer in the virtues of celibacy. “If one wastes the most potent forces of one’s being, one cannot become spiritual. All history teaches us that the great seers of all ages were either monks and ascetics or those who had given up married life; only the pure in life can see God.”
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) had been widowed for 19 years when he was elected as the third President.
Dalai Lama (14th) (1950 – ) the leader of Tibetans both politically and spiritually. The Dalai Lama has practised non-violent opposition to Chinese rule, whilst maintaining Buddhist principles of compassion and forgiveness. As a Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama has taken a vow of celibacy and has remained unmarried.