Referenced list of 175 famous people diagnosed as autistic or subject of published speculation about autism/Asperger syndrome (AS)
List last edited September 2011. Revisions and additions to this list have been suspended. Excerpts from this list have been published in some of the author's new books, which can be downloaded through Lili Marlene's Smashwords page:
famous autistics famous autists famous aspergians famous aspies Asperger syndrome HFA famous people eccentric genius eccentric geniuses
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The inclusion of every name into this list is supported by at least one document cited in the references section. Most of the authors of the documents that form the basis of this list are Asperger syndrome experts, professional psychologists, professional psychiatrists, academics, biographers, journalists and/or published authors. There are also references to relevant audio and visual material. At the risk of stating the obvious, most of the people in this list are or were intellectually gifted and/or blessed with a special talent. Giftedness and AS appear to be often co-occurring conditions which have many characteristics in common.
Journalists and Whistleblowers
Julian Assange (b.1971, Australian journalist, publisher, Internet activist and spokesperson, cryptographer and editor in chief and founder of WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website and repository for news leaks. Previously Assange was a computer programmer and a hacker. In 2010 Assange was described as “the most famous man in the world” (Rintoul et al 2010). Assange has received a number of human-rights-related awards. November 2010, WikiLeaks and media partners began publishing secret US diplomatic cables causing great embarrassment among leaders of many nations. In the same month Interpol placed Assange on its list of wanted persons, wanted for questioning about alleged sexual offences. Assange voluntarily surrendered to the London Metropolitan Police Service in December 2010. Assange denies the accusations made against him. There have been calls for Assange to be prosecuted for espionage and even calls for his assassination. Assange has had a falling out with some WikiLeaks collaborators, and has been accused of being a dictator with an oversized ego. WikiLeaks is a secretive organization, and Assange has been living an itinerant, secretive life travelling the world.
Assange spent most of his youth living on beautiful Magnetic Island off Queensland. His family had an unconventional lifestyle. Assange was homeschooled and he had his own horse. The family home burnt down. His step-father described Assange as a very intelligent child with a strong sense of morality "He always stood up for the underdog,... he was always very angry about people ganging up on other people." When Assange was 11 years his mother took Assange and his half-brother into hiding for 5 years during a custody dispute over his half-brother, in which the family moved homes and schools. Assange was homeschooled, also self-taught, a voracious reader citation-surfing in libraries, did some study by correspondence and also studied informally with university professors (Khatchadourian 2010). Assange started computer hacking at 16, joining a hacker group. This set has been described thus: "These were gifted kids who the system really couldn't accommodate and so they had exited - mentally, emotionally, physically.” (Suelette Dreyfus quoted by Rintoul et al 2010). According to Wikipedia in 1991 police raided his home. Assange pleaded guilty to hacking in 1992 and he was released and fined. According to another source (Wilson 2011) five years passed between the hacking and Assange being sentenced. Court documents from the 1996 sentencing portray Asssange as a lonely computer geek kid who had an unsettled family and educational life who failed his year 12 exams (Wilson 2011). One needs to consider that such documents would have a bias. While awaiting trial Assange reportedly became depressed and briefly booked himself into a hospital (Khatchadourian 2010). When Assange broke up with a girlfriend whom he had “married in an unofficial ceremony” (Khatchadourian 2010) he became involved in a custody battle over his own son, resulting in Assange and his mother creating a database of legal records related to child custody issues in Australia. An important internal manual was leaked by a child protection worker. According to Assange’s mother, this was the stressful time when Assange’s hair turned grey. Assange was involved with starting one of Australia’s first ISPs, and he has developed free software, becoming a key figure in the free software movement (Barrowclough 2010) that includes Richard Stallman, who is also in this list. Assange also co-invented the Rubberhose deniable encryption system. Assange has reportedly attended six universities at various times but has never graduated, studying maths, physics, philosophy and neuroscience. Assange became disenchanted with studying maths because fellow Australian students were working on projects for the US military.
Assange’s voice has been described as a “droning bass monotone” (Hosenball 2010). He has a pale complexion and hair that has gone completely grey before the age of 40. An account of a former housemate describes Assange’s lifestyle as one in which he would forget to eat and sleep, and would work through the night on his computer. Assange is capable of intense concentration but can also be absent-minded in practical matters (Khatchadourian 2010). Assange has been described as “brilliant and charming one minute but insufferable the next” (Hosenball 2010). According to one report Assange “has described himself to collaborators, only partly in jest, as "somewhere on the autistic spectrum."” (Hosenball 2010). There has also been some online speculation about Assange and autism. M)
Deborah Locke (maiden name Webb, Australian whistleblower, former Detective Senior Constable in the NSW police force, awarded the Commissioner's Certificate of Merit for her reporting of police mismanagement and corruption, which led to the establishment of the Wood Royal Commission (Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service), which led to the establishment of the Police Integrity Commission. Locke has been a long-time member of Whistleblowers Australia and was a candidate for the (not-then-registered) People Power political party in Australia in the Werriwa by-election of 2005. Locke is the mother of a son with autism and an autism and disability advocate. She also works as a manager of a women’s and childrens’ refuge in Sydney, and is also involved with an autism support group which she founded with her husband. Locke was described as “an aspie” in the documentary film by Stephen Ramsay Oops, Wrong Planet. Locke is reportedly “diagnosed with high functioning autism”. Locke's story, as told in her book Watching the Detectives, is a major source of material for the latest instalment on the infamous Australian TV series Underbelly, titled Underbelly: the golden mile. Locke’s character Debbie Webb is played by Cheree Cassidy. M)
Scientists and Academics
John Couch Adams (1819-1892, British astronomer and mathematician and a professor at Cambridge, known as England's greatest mathematical astronomer with the exception of Newton (who is also in this list), Adams was a mathematical prodigy. As an adult he had a speech impediment and had difficulty writing narrative prose. In 2007 a journal of the Royal Society published a substantial paper in which the authors argued that Adams had AS and this contributed towards the failure of Adams and British collaborators to beat a German/French team to make the optical discovery of the planet Neptune, even though Adams had done the calculations first, but the authors did not lay all the blame on Adams. M)
Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806, a free African American astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, author of an almanac and farmer. Banneker is one of the famous role models profiled in the children’s book Different like me: my book of autism heroes by Jennifer Elder.)
David Bellamy OBE (b. 1933, English botanist, broadcaster, environmentalist and author, outspoken, has held positions such as professor, president and vice-president within many organizations, won a BAFTA Richard Dimbleby Award for television in 1978, possibly best known as the extremely enthusiastic host of nature documentaries such as Botanic Man screened in the 1970s, as a child he enjoyed reading Encyclopaedia Britannica, once asked for Baillier’s Medical Dictionary as a present and threw a tantrum beside a Diplodocus when it was closing time at the end of his first visit to a natural history museum, M)
Robert Boyle, The hon. FRS (1627-1691, chemist, physicist, alchemist, inventor, one of the founders of modern chemistry, known for his formulation of Boyle's Law, wrote The sceptical chymist, an important book in the development of modern chemistry. Boyle was “perhaps the most eminent scientist of his day” (Hunter 2009), only outshone by Sir Isaac Newton, who was influenced profoundly by Boyle’s work. Boyle had a stutter which lasted his entire adult life. In his writings Boyle complained about the tendency for his thoughts to roam in an uncontrolled way. He called this a “habitude of raving” (Hunter 2009 p. 35). Boyle was a profoundly religious and moralistic person. He led a celibate lifestyle and never married.)
Henry Cavendish FRS (1731-1810, physicist, “He was one of the unthanked benefactors of his race, who was patiently teaching and serving mankind, whilst they were shrinking from his coldness, or mocking his peculiarities...” - biographer George Wilson describing Henry Cavendish, quoted by Oliver Sacks)
Marie Curie (1867-1934, Polish-French chemist and physicist, pioneer of research on radioactivity, winner of Nobel Prizes in physics in 1903 and in chemistry in 1911, the only woman to date to win two Nobel Prizes, some sources claim she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to receive a second Nobel Prize, she was the first female professor at the Sorbonne, the Curie’s eldest daughter also won a Nobel Prize in chemistry, despite their great achievements Marie and Pierre Curie showed little interest in fame or wealth, enjoying their research and family life, during WW1 Marie was on the front lines with ambulances carrying X-ray equipment, her husband was “also possibly left-handed, and even more of a natural outsider than Marie.” (Wright 2007), Wright has observed that photographic evidence suggests that Curie, her Nobel-winning daughter, and their spouses, may have all been left-handed – assortative mating among left-handers?, Marie died of leukaemia, the result of exposure to radiation, L-H, M)
Charles Darwin FRS (1809-1882, English naturalist, proposed the theory of natural selection which is the foundation of modern biology, wrote On the Origin of Species, “the most important biological book ever written” (Taylor 2008 p. 123) and it was also a popular book partly due to the clear and unpretentious style in which it was written, Darwin also wrote The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin spent 8 years studying barnacles, showing a long-term devotion to a subject that other people might have found most uninteresting. Darwin came from a distinguished and rather inbred family and he married a first cousin. Darwin was a half-cousin of Sir Francis Galton, who is also on this list. Darwin was a devoted father, and three of his sons became Fellows of the Royal Society. Charles Darwin was a member of the Athenaeum Club. Darwin sometimes spoke with a stutter. He also had a chronic physical illness that was never diagnosed and still remains a mystery. Many theories have been suggested to explain Darwin's illness, including cyclic vomiting syndrome, hypochondria and even inbreeding (Coghlan 2010). The subject of Charles Darwin’s illness has its own Wikipedia page. Darwin had a very prominent brow ridge and thin lips, masculine facial characteristics that are possibly the result of high levels of testosterone during development. Darwin’s scientist half-cousin Sir Francis Galton had similar facial features. R-H, M, 3)
Paul Dirac OM, FRS (1902-1984, British theoretical physicist, winner of a Nobel Prize in physics in 1933, one of the greatest physicists of all time, Dirac made important contributions to the development of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics, appointed as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge when he was "not quite thirty" (Farmello 2009), Dirac has received honours and awards and has had medals named after him, in 2009 biographer Graham Farmelo argued that Dirac and his father were autistic to some degree, but despite this they were very incompatible personalities, Farmelo also identified Dirac's loyalty to friends in need as a possible autistic trait, Dirac was an aloof man of few words, according to the Farmelo's biography there was a Dirac family history of suicide and depression, Dirac refused to accept a knighthood in 1953 because he did not like the idea of being called by his first name ("Sir Paul"), Dirac's circle of friends included physicists Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and Werner Heisenberg, Dirac was an atheist, R-H?, M)
Albert Einstein FRS (1879–1955, American theoretical physicist with German-Jewish origins, winner of Nobel Prize in physics in 1921, his many very important contributions to science include the general and special theories of relativity, Einstein wrote Relativity: the Special and the General Theory, Einstein expressed many political opinions but never joined any political party or movement, was thought to have had a large head in infancy, had very delayed speech development as a child, a narrowly-focused autodidact by nature he ignored school subjects that did not interest him and was not liked by some teachers. There have been controversial claims that Einstein's first wife Mileva, a Serbian mathematician, made an unacknowledged contribution to Einstein’s work. They had 3 children, one illegitimate daughter who’s fate is unknown, a son who became an engineering professor and another son, Eduard, who was institutionalized as a schizophrenic, according to a member of the Einstein family many of Albert’s colleagues and friends believed Eduard was the one who had inherited his father’s intellect (Zackheim 2008), Einstein was a friend of Kurt Godel and also Irene Joliot-Curie, who are also included in this list, Einstein’s preserved normal-sized brain has been extensively studied by scientists, with one study finding an increased number of glial cells compared to neurons in Einstein’s the left inferior parietal area, a part of the brain responsible for higher reasoning. A print of what is claimed to be Einstein's hand (right) was published in Discover magazine, and similar prints can be found on the internet, I have measured the hand's 2D:4D digit ratio to be 0.93, very low, and consistent with typical digit ratios of people with autism, digit ratios are thought to indicate levels of prenatal testosterone, if this genuinely is a print of Einstein's hand it provides more evidence that he was autistic, some authorities claim Einstein was mixed-handed while other sources list him as a left-hander, L-H, M, 9)
Dian Fossey (1932-1985, American zoologist who studied gorillas over a period of 18 years in Rwanda. Fossey is one of the three women encouraged by Louis Leakey to study great apes in their natural environment. Fossey organized effective anti-poaching patrols in the face of official inaction and opposed tourism. She wrote the book Gorillas in the Mist, and as a celebrity and scientist she was very influential in reforming the negative image of the gorilla. Her life story was depicted in the movie Gorillas in the Mist. She is one of the famous role models profiled in the children’s book Different like me: my book of autism heroes by Jennifer Elder. Fossey had a number of relationships with men but never married. She was murdered and the case remains open.)
Rosalind Frankin (1920-1958, English crystallographer, biophysicist, had Jewish heritage, her x-ray diffraction images of DNA were an important contribution to discovering DNA’s double helix structure, had difficulties working with some scientists, at least partly due to sexist attitudes and rules at that time in English universities, died at age 37 from ovarian cancer, possibly the result of radiation exposure at work, not awarded a Nobel Prize as she died before a Nobel was awarded to the team that researched nucleic acids and the Nobel is not awarded posthumously)
Sir Francis Galton FRS (1822-1911, English polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, statistician and racist. Galton wrote over 340 papers and books. He wrote about synaesthesia. Galton created the statistical concept of correlation, and also coined the term “nature versus nurture”. His book Hereditary Genius was the first social scientific attempt to study genius and greatness. Another notable book of Galton’s was Inquiries into human faculty and its development. Galton had a mania for measuring things, even devising a method for measuring the size of African women’s breasts and buttocks using a sextant (Lloyd & Mitchinson 2009 p. 112-3). By statistical means he proved the ineffectiveness of prayer, and he also formulated a method for making the perfect cup of tea. Galton was a child prodigy, reading at age 2, doing maths at 5 and reading adult books at 6 years. He was a half-cousin of Charles Darwin, who is also on this list. Galton had a prominent brow ridge and thin lips, masculine facial characteristics that are possibly the result of high levels of testosterone during development. Galton’s scientist half-cousin Charles Darwin had similar facial features. In the book Remarkable biologists by Ioan James evidence for and against Galton having AS is briefly mentioned on p.104-105. Galton is discussed as an obsessive in the book Obsession: a history by Lennard Davis. M)
Temple Grandin (b.1947, American animal science Associate Professor, industrial designer, writer and animal rights and autistic rights advocate. Grandin was diagnosed with “brain damage” at age of 2, her diagnosis changed to autism during childhood and was formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when a adult. Before attending college Grandin had been a student at a boarding school for intellectually gifted children who have trouble learning in a regular setting (2E children). According to a note on page 92 of the 2011 book The Mind’s Eye by Dr Oliver Sacks, Grandin seems to have a normal ability to recognize faces. Grandin was the subject of a biographical made for TV movie titled Temple Grandin, with Claire Danes cast as Temple Grandin.)
Irene Joliot-Curie (1897-1956, French scientist who co-discovered artificial radioactivity, daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie, was a co-winner with her husband of a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1935, L-H, M)
Alfred Kinsey (1894–1956, sex researcher, had a profound influence on values and attitudes regarding human sexuality, his Kinsey Report books, one about males and another about females, were bestsellers in the US, professor of entomology and zoology, founder of a sex research institute, an atheist, believed to have been bisexual, M)
Barbara McClintock (1902-1992, American scientist, cytogeneticist, and feminist icon, awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1983 for the discovery of genetic transposition, the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in the category. McClintock has also received a number of other prizes and awards, and14 Honorary Doctor of Science degrees. McClintock displayed emotional independence from a young age, and was a solitary and tomboyish girl. She did not get along well with her mother. McClintock never married. She is one of the famous role models profiled in the children’s book Different like me: my book of autism heroes by Jennifer Elder.)
James Clerk Maxwell FRS (1831-1879, mathematical physicist, his scientific work strongly influenced physics in the next century, considered by some to be in the same league as geniuses Einstein and Newton, a member of the Cambridge Apostles *, M)
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884, original name Johann Mendel, assumed the name Gregor when he entered monastic life, Austrian scientist and priest, also worked as a physics teacher in an abbey, his pioneering work on the genetics of pea plants laid the foundation of the science of genetics but his published work was largely ignored in his own time, the biological term “Mendelian inheritance” was named after Mendel)
Sir Isaac Newton FRS (1642–1726, English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher and alchemist, born very small, started his schooling at the bottom of the class, regarded as lazy and inattentive, but after Newton beat the stuffing out of a school bully who was larger he rose to become the school’s “top boy”, Newton thrived on solitude, during 1665-1666 Newton returned to his home town from Cambridge University which was closed due to plague and in this period Newton invented calculus and did other very important intellectual work, Newton wrote the seminal book of maths and physics Principia Mathematica, Newton was appointed to the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in his 20s, he secretly had heretical religious beliefs and practiced alchemy, in later years was Master of the Royal Mint and President of the Royal Society, a very religious person but he explained his brilliant scientific insights as the result of solitary persistent thought rather than divine revelation. Some sources claim that Newton had a stutter throughout his life. Newton “could go without sleep for days”. (Morrow 1999). He never married and left no offspring. A number of authors have argued that Newton was or might have been autistic, a couple arguing to the contrary. Chapters about Newton can be found in the books Genius genes: how Asperger talents changed the world by Fitzgerald and O’Brien and Asperger syndrome and high achievement: some very remarkable people by James. 6, L-H)
Charles Richter (1900-1985, American seismologist, created the Richter Magnitude Scale to quantify earthquakes, was able to read and speak many different languages, Richter and his wife were naturists (nudists), M)
Peter Mark Roget FRS (1779-1869, British physician, lexicographer, natural theologian, lecturer and inventor, best known as the author of the Thesaurus of English words and phrases (Roget’s Thesaurus), the book that has become synonymous with synonyms. Roget’s Thesaurus is not the only well-known reference work that he contributed to – he wrote articles for several editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Some of Roget’s associates included Faraday, Ampere, Bentham, Darwin and Babbage. The last 3 associates are also in this list. Roget had an obsession with compiling lists from the age of 8. He was also obsessed with classifying. Roget’s biographer Kendall has argued that the list-making was a strategy to ward off depression, but other writers have argued that Asperger syndrome is a more likely explanation. It has also been argued that Roget had OCD, and there appears to have been a history of depression in his family. After Roget’s death, work on the thesaurus was continued by his son John Lewis Roget and John’s son. In an 1881 paper by Sir Francis Galton about “visualised numerals” which is now known as visuo-spatial synaesthesia, John Roget is one of the men of science who see “numerals in Forms” whose experiences are described by Galton (who is also in this list). M)
Carl Sagan (1934-1996, American with Jewish heritage, astronomer, astrobiologist and popularizer of science, advocate of the scientific/humanist/skeptical philosophy, won many awards including an Emmy and a Pulitzer Prize. Sagan's personality has been described as high in conscientiousness and low in agreeableness in a 1999 Caltech lecture series talk. Sagan was married three times, M)
Boris Sidis (1867-1923, Russian Jewish psychologist, physician, psychiatrist, philosopher of education and father of mathematician prodigy William James Sidis, who is also in this list. Boris Sidis applied the theory of evolution to psychology but he spoke out against eugenics, he raised a son (William James) with an IQ estimated at an incredible 250-300 points, but he derided intelligence testing. Boris Sidis was also an unacknowledged pioneer of synaesthesia research, using the term "secondary sensation" for synaesthesia in a 1914 book. Boris Sidis was at one time the medical director of an institution for persons who were "not actually insane" but had milder issues such as obsessions. Boris and William James had a poor relationship (see entry for W. J. Sidis). Both were polyglots, and both experienced marginalization despite their great abilities. Boris became ostracized from his profession and was written out of the history of psychology following his criticisms of Freudian theory and mainstream psychology. Boris and William James both died prematurely from cerebral hemorrhage, M)
Adam Smith (1723-1790, Scottish pioneer of political economics, moral philosopher, professor, popularly known as the father of modern economics. Smith wrote An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations (Wealth of nations) which is considered to be the first modern book of economics, and he also wrote The theory of moral sentiments. Smith was without doubt an eccentric. He had the habit of speaking to himself and lecturing during conversation, and the absent-mindedness of this professor is legendary. Smith’s smile has been described as one of “inexpressible benignity” and he had a stutter. Some descriptions suggest Smith had a tic and was a hoarder of documents. There is evidence that Smith had echopraxia, a strange type of tic in which the actions of others are imitated involuntarily. John Rae described some episodes in his biography of Smith. Echopraxia is thought by some to be linked to “hyper-empathy” and mirror neurons (Thomson 2010), even though echopraxia is associated with autism, and conventional thinking is that people with autism should have deficiencies in empathy and mirror-neuron functioning. Adam Smith never married. An interesting discussion of Smith and his book The theory of moral sentiments in relation to autism can be found in the book Create your own economy by Prof. Tyler Cowen.)
Vernon L. Smith (b.1927, American professor of economics, winner of a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002. Smith is reported as having Asperger syndrome. A TV news story interview with Smith and his wife in which they discuss AS can be viewed at MSNBC. Smith's autobiography was published in 2008 Discovery - a memoir, in which Smith discusses evidence for and against the proposition that he has Asperger syndrome. An economics professor who recruited Smith has written “I see him as a living, walking example of the cognitive strengths of autism.” (Cowen 2009). M)
Lawrence Summers (b. 1954, American economist with Jewish heritage. In September 2010 Summers announced that he would be stepping down from his position as Director of the White House's National Economic Council for President Barack Obama and return to teaching at Harvard University. Summers was the Secretary of the Treasury in Bill Clinton’s administration, was Chief Economist of the World Bank and waswas the President of Harvard University for 5 years. Summers’ comments at a 2005 conference that women may be under-represented in science and engineering because of innate sex differences caused great controversy and discussion around the world, his views were defended as scientifically justified by popular science writer and academic Steven Pinker. Summers entered MIT at age 16, a tenured professor at Harvard at age 28, has uncles on both sides of his family who won Nobel Prizes in economics in the 1970s, and parents also economists. There has been some speculation in print about Summers and Asperger syndrome, from author Richard Bradley and from the controversial Nobelist scientist James D. Watson. M, R-H?)
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) Serbian-American inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer and physicist, regarded as America’s greatest electrical engineer, alternating current electric power systems are the result of Tesla’s ideas, Tesla filed the first basic radio patent, may have missed out on a Nobel Prize because of conflict with inventor Thomas Edison, who also did not receive a Nobel, worked on plans for a particle beam super-weapon up to the time of his death, had a “nervous breakdown” in his early twenties, Tesla had an eidetic memory, synaesthesia, sensory aversions and hypersensitivity, was a highly visual thinker, could speak in eight languages, celibate and never married but had friends, died alone in a hotel in a state of indebtedness after losing scientific credibility because of his odd personality, eccentric ideas and symptoms suggestive of OCD that developed in his late 50s. Tesla was born left-handed but became ambidextrous, He appears to have had a very low 2D:4D finger ratio (.91) based on a photograph of his left hand. Very low 2D:4D ratios are associated with autism. Tesla is believed to have needed little sleep and could work through the night on projects. One of his many inventions was a machine for inducing sleep. Tesla was a true eccentric regarded as a hero by other eccentrics, one biography apparently asserted that Tesla was a superior being from the planet Venus (Pickover 1998), L-H, 2)
John B. Watson (1878-1958, American psychologist who founded behaviorism, M)
Authors of first modern clinical descriptions of autism
Leo Kanner (1894-1981, Austrian born American psychiatrist with Jewish heritage, wrote a pioneering textbook on child psychiatry, in 1943 wrote a paper describing autism, introduced the term “infantile autism”, Roy Grinker speculated that Kanner may have had “subclinical” autistic traits and that some family members on his paternal side had autistic traits or AS (Grinker 2007) but the accuracy of Grinker's writing about Kanner has been disputed, M?)
Hans Asperger (1906-1980, Austrian paediatrician, talented at learning languages as a child, famous for writing one of the two first clinical descriptions of autism in 1944, but it was not till the 1980s and 1990s that his paper and findings made an impact in the scientific and medical communities, Asperger syndrome was named after him, was the first to claim that “The autistic personality is an extreme variant of male intelligence.” (Asperger translated by Frith). In 2007 a two-page letter titled Did Hans Asperger (1906–1980) have Asperger Syndrome? by AS clinicians Lyons and Fitzgerald was published in an autism journal. M)
Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875,Danish poet and author. He is famous for writing children’s stories including The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid and many other children’s stories. Andersen was odd in appearance. He had a small head, an odd walk and was clumsy. His romantic interests in a number of men and women were unreciprocated. Andersen has been identified as a dyslexic. L-H)
Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941, influential American novelist and short story writer, best known for his collection of interrelated short stories Winesburg, Ohio. Following a mental breakdown and temporary disappearance in 1912 Anderson left his position as a company president and he also left his wife and kids to pursue a career as a writer. He later remarried and worked again in business. Anderson married a total of four times. Anderson is one of the authors discussed in the book Writers on the spectrum: how autism and Asperger syndrome have influenced literary writing by academic Julie Brown. M)
W. H. Auden (1907-1973, full name Wystan Hugh Auden, poet born in Britain, migrated to the US, described as one of the greatest 20th century writers, wrote reviews and essays, worked on documentaries, won a Pulitzer Prize For Poetry in 1948 for The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue, set to be a mining engineer till his great love of words lead him to be a poet, Auden was homosexual and described his relationship with poet Chester Kallman as a marriage, not known for domestic neatness Auden “…kept a kitchen that could have doubled as a research facility for biological warfare.” (James 2007), biographer Davenport–Hines claimed that Auden hinted in his loosely autobiographical A Certain World: A Commonplace Book “that he considered himself mildly autistic as a child, and conceivably diagnosed himself as manifesting what is now known as Asperger’s syndrome.” (Davenport-Hines 2004), Auden’s poem Funeral Blues was featured in the 1994 movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, M, R-H?)
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989, winner of a Nobel Prize in literature in 1969, playwright, poet, novelist, cricket player (bowled with right hand and batted with left), served with the French Resistance during WWII, “almost certainly the greatest prose stylist of the century..”, wrote the play Waiting For Godot, wrote literature in English and French, once worked as the secretary of James Joyce, L-H, M)
Lewis Carroll (1832–1898, real name Reverend Charles L. Dodgson, wrote the classic children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which is thought to contain descriptions of experiences that are like those experienced by temporal lobe epileptics. In an article published in New Scientist in 2010 a researcher doing a DPhil in literature argued that some scenes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were satire of radical then-new ideas in mathematics by a “stubbornly conservative mathematician” (Bayley 2010). Dodgson’s nonsense poem Jabberwocky has reputedly been called “the king of neologistic poems”, (a tendency to invent and use new words (neologisms) is an autistic trait). Carroll was also a mathematician, logician, photographer, academic and Anglican clergyman. He was apparently a bored and boring lecturer. His career suffered from his tendency to be side-tracked by pursuits that took his interest. Carroll was intellectually gifted as a child, home-schooled till age of 12. he was a stutterer in a family in which 8 of the 11 children were stutterers (6 sisters stutterers, which is remarkable as this condition is quite rare in females) (Wright 2007). Carroll's parents were first cousins. He appears to have enjoyed the company of children more than the company of his age peers, never married, suffered from migraine headaches, may have had epilepsy. Like many autistic savants Carroll figured out a method for finding the day of the week for any given date, which is explained on page 167 of the book Lewis Carroll in numberland by Robin Wilson, L-H)
Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989, British travel writer and novelist, wrote The Songlines and In Patagonia, was a bisexual and was married, died of AIDS, M)
Helen Dale/Darville/Demidenko (b. 1972, born Helen Darville, literary pseudonym Helen Demidenko, changed name to Dale reportedly to avoid discrimination in job interviews, Australian writer, P.E. teacher, winner of The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1993 (at age 22), the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1995, and the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal in 1995, as Helen Demidenko, all awarded for the novel The Hand that Signed the Paper, this novel, it’s author and the awards ignited a storm of controversy in Australia that inspired the publication of four books about the affair, Dale gained a reputation as a chronic liar when she lived in the fictional persona of half-Ukrainian Helen Demidenko “on and off for at least three years” (Prior 1996), according to an autobiographical article in Quadrant Dale was given phonics tuition and occupational therapy as a child for dyslexia and went from the bottom of the class to the top within 6 months, has claimed to have a very high IQ, Dale has expressed political views that could be categorized as right-wing, she is involved with the Australian Skeptics, during the Demidenko affair was defended by Australian poet Les Murray, literary editor of conservative journal Quadrant who himself claimed to be autistic and considers himself a pariah from a leftist Australian literary establishment, Dale finds commercial law fascinating and is reported to be currently studying postgraduate law at Oxford, R-H?)
Henry Darger (1892-1973, author of the longest work of fiction in human history, see full description in the Artists section)
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886, American poet regarded as one of the greatest poets. Her poems were in a number of ways unconventional for their time. Dickinson was a prolific poet but was not well known in her lifetime. She was very reclusive and considered eccentric but she had a good rapport with children. She had a habit of wearing white clothes, but also excelled at domestic work such as gardening and baking. Dickinson had a particular fascination for scented flowers. When she died she was buried in a white coffin and flowers used at her funeral included orchid, heliotrope and violets - flowers which have especially splendid fragrances. It has been written that Dickinson “saw things directly and just as they were”. Dickinson is one of the writers discussed in the 2010 book Writers on the spectrum: how autism and Asperger syndrome have influenced literary writing by literary academic Julie Brown. Dickinson’s biographer Lyndall Gordon has argued that epilepsy is the explanation for Dickinson’s reclusive life and her single status. Epilepsy had a huge social stigma during the time that Dickinson lived. There was a family history of epilepsy in the Dickinson family. Both explanations could be true – autistic people have an increased risk of also having epilepsy, and autism and epilepsy can both run in families.)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930, he changed his given middle name “Conan” into the first part of his surname but librarians file his name under “Doyle”, a British polymath most famous for writing the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels. Doyle became an agnostic in his youth despite a religious education. He qualified and practiced as a doctor. His story A Study in Scarlet has never been out of print since it was first published in 1888. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories got the world hooked on the literary genre of detective fiction. When he “killed” the Holmes character in a story there was an outcry from the public. Doyle relented and continued to write Sherlock Holmes stories. The Sherlock Holmes character has been identified as an autistic fictional character by two different professors in two different books. Prof. M. Fitzgerald has also identified Doyle as a novelist who had Asperger syndrome (Fitzgerald 2005) and Prof. T. Cowen has presented evidence that Doyle based his autistic character on himself (Cowen 2009). Sherlock Holmes has a savant-like brother named Mycroft who co-founded a gentleman’s club named the Diogenes Club, for shy and misanthropic gentlemen. Talking is banned in this (fictional) club. In real life Doyle was a member of the Athenaeum Club which included among its members three other famous people in this list. The evil Professor Moriarty character has also been identified as arguably autistic (Cowen 2009 p. 153). Doyle ran for parliament but was not elected. He investigated two real-life closed crime cases leading to the release of two prisoners, and Doyle is credited with promoting the use of forensic science in police work with his stories before it was widely used (Calamai 2008). Doyle was a member of the Athenaeum Club *. He became involved with spiritualism late in life following the deaths of family members. M)
Greg Egan (b.1961, Australian science fiction author and computer programmer, winner of a Hugo Award in 1999 for the novella Oceanic, and has won three Locus Awards. Egan and some other literary figures were identified as possible cases of Asperger syndrome in an article published in 2006 in the science fiction magazine Locus, which is interesting considering that Egan has created at least two autistic fictional characters. In Egan’s 1995 novel Distress the character James Rourke is a representative of the (fictional) Voluntary Autists Association and he shares some interesting opinions about autism. The main character of Distress, Andrew Worth, has also been identified as having an autistic personality and this novel has been cited as one of the first to feature such a personality as a central element (Hassler & Wilcox 2008 p.18). Greg Egan is known for his reclusiveness. He does not attend science fiction conventions nor sign books. At his web site he has explained that "There are no photos of me on the web." Egan is an atheist and he has contributed an essay to the 2009 book 50 voices of disbelief: why we are atheists. Egan's latest novel is titled Zendegi)
Janet Frame ONZ CBE (1924-2004, changed name to Nene Janet Paterson Clutha but known by original name, New Zealand writer of fiction, poetry and widely known for her three volumes of autobiography that the movie An Angel at My Table was based upon. Her father was an engine driver. Frame had a long history of voluntarily committing herself to psychiatric hospitals. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, received many shock treatments, a lobotomy operation planned but was cancelled when Frame won a major New Zealand literary prize, some years later in a London mental hospital a psychiatrist classified her as sane expressing the opinion that she had never been schizophrenic, Frame went on to consult a psychoanalyst. Frame had a family history of epilepsy and autism, and in 2007 a posthumous diagnosis of autism by a doctor of medicine sparked controversy. Frame was awarded a CBE in 1983, was admitted to the Order of New Zealand in 1990, won a number of literary prizes and awards and is thought to have been short-listed for the Nobel Prize in literature. Towards Another Summer is an interesting quasi-autobiographical novel by Frame that was published posthumously. L-H?)
Franz Grillparzer 1791-1872, Austrian dramatist and poet. In a 2 page 2007 letter to an autism journal about Hans Asperger two AS clinicians speculated that Asperger’s favourite poet, Grillparzer, might also have had AS.
Hermann Hesse (1877-1962, German-born Swiss novelist, poet and painter, winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946 for the novel The glass bead game, also published under the title Magister Ludi. Hesse also wrote the novels Steppenwolf and Siddhartha. In early childhood Hesse displayed intelligence, strong will and a turbulent spirit. From his earliest years his parents doubted that they were able to meet the challenge of parenting such a child and in 1890 his mother described Hesse as “abnormal” in a letter (Freedman 1978 p.40). Hesse’s school years ended at the age of 16, following a very unsettled period marked by conflict with his parents and a suicide attempt, in which he attended a variety of schools and institutions including a seminary and a mental institution. Hesse’s first wife was from a family of mathematicians and she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hesse had an interest in psychoanalysis. The main character of The glass bead game, Joseph Knecht, has been identified as having autistic characteristics, and the possible autism of Hesse has also been explored (Cowen 2009). A blogger who goes by the name Herocious has identified a description of synaesthesia experienced by Joseph Knecht in the novel, which can be found on pages 47-48 of the 1969 Richard & Clara Winston translation of the book. M)
Patricia Highsmith (1921–1995, born with the name Mary Plangman, American novelist, learned to read very early, wrote Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, also wrote the first lesbian novel to have a relatively happy ending published under a pseudonym and widely read especially within the lesbian community. Highsmith was reputedly an alcoholic bisexual misanthrope who preferred the company of animals to the company of people. She kept cats and snails as pets and according to legend Highsmith smuggled her pet snails into France underneath her breasts. Highsmith was hypersensitive to sound and often showed a lack of tact in things that she said. She was also ambidextrous. A-H)
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889, English poet, Jesuit priest)
James Joyce (1882-1941, writer and poet, wrote Finnegans Wake and Ulysses, a 250,000 word novel of great literary importance because of its experimental literary techniques and stream of consciousness form, “the world’s first modernist novel” (Taylor 2008 p. 161), Joyce overturned the conventional avoidance of mentioning the scatological and sexual sides of life in this novel, the publication of extracts from the novel in the US led to prosecution for obscenity, but the novel in full was published in the US some years later. The character Leopold Bloom in the novel is an ordinary hero unglamorously depicted. This novel has a cult following. The life of Joyce’s daughter Lucia Joyce is a tragic and mysterious part of the Joyce legend. She started a promising career as a dancer and dated Samuel Beckett in her 20s, but her rebellious and eccentric behaviour lead to an analysis by Jung and many different diagnoses from many different sources, the diagnosis that she is remembered by is “hebephrenic psychosis”, the modern term in the DSM-IV for this being “schizophrenia – disorganized type”, an early-onset, permanent subtype of schizophrenia that does not include delusions or hallucinations as criteria, schizophrenia is a diagnosis that has been incorrectly given to many people who were later re-diagnosed with autism/AS, Lucia spent most of her life in mental institutions, a schizophrenia charity in Ireland designated Lucia’s birthday as “Lucia Day”, the use of letters written between Lucia and her father in a biography of Lucia Joyce has been the subject of a law suit, M)
H. P Lovecraft (1890-1937, real name Howard Phillips Lovecraft, American writer in horror, science fiction and fantasy genres, was a child prodigy with a talent for poetry and an autodidact, but was unable to be educated in school till late childhood)
Herman Melville (1819–1891, wrote the novels Moby-Dick and Billy Budd, Moby-Dick is regarded by some as the first great American novel, an epic work at 220,000 words in 135 chapters, about an obsessive and eccentric whaler captain’s quest for revenge against a white whale, Melville was a distant relative of techno-pop music star Moby, M)
Caiseal Mor (b. 1961, Australian fantasy novelist (with Irish heritage), and musician, despite being advised not to disclose his autistic status for the sake of his writing career, in a 2007 autobiography A blessing and a curse Mor revealed that he was diagnosed as autistic and suffered from abuse as a child, he did not speak till the age of 4, Mor suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and PTSD, M)
Les Murray (b. 1938, full name Leslie Allan Murray, considered to be Australia’s greatest living poet, won T. S. Eliot Prize in 1996 for Subhuman Redneck Poems. He was born into a poor dairy-farming family. He started speaking before age 2 with a prodigious early memory for nursery rhymes, taught self to read at age four, started school at age 9, read the 8 volume Cassell’s Encyclopaedia at home. From his early years was often subject to harsh physical discipline from his father, was bullied in high school, won a scholarship to university and spent some time as a drifter. Murray worked as a translator and a public servant. Murray has translated many different languages. He has a long history of (formally diagnosed) clinical depression, one of his children is autistic, like another person in this list has eyes of different colours (heterochromia) (Alexander 2000 p.27), wrote two novels of verse, literary editor of conservative journal Quadrant, commissioned to write a preamble to the Australian Constitution and also to rewrite Oath of Allegiance, considers himself a pariah from a leftist Australian literary establishment, no stranger to controversy, has claimed in a poem The Tune on Your Mind, and in interviews to be “a bit Aspergers”, described as “diagnosed” with AS in some media articles, Murray has written about his autistic son's autistic characteristics in the poem It Allows a Portrait in Line Scan at Fifteen. There is speculation that Murray may win a Nobel Prize for Literature one day. Murray’s latest publication is Taller When Prone, a book of poems. M, 8, R-H)
George Orwell (1903–1950, real name Eric Blair, author and journalist, “one of the most elegant stylists in English literature” (Taylor 2008 p. 177), Orwell wrote the famous dystopian novel 1984 and the famous political satire novella Animal Farm, Orwell was a democratic socialist critic of various forms of totalitarianism, many of the terms and neologisms coined by Orwell in the novel 1984 have become a part of the English language, M)
John Elder Robison (b.1957, American author of the bestselling 2007 memoir Look me in the eye : my life with Asperger's. Robison is the brother of Augusten Burroughs (pen name) who is the author of a number of autobiographical books including Running with scissors. John E. Robison is also the manager of J E Robison Service Co which does sales, service, repair and restoration on a number of imported makes of vehicles. Early in his career Robison’s skills in electronics were applied to the rock music industry, working as a sound advisor for Pink Floyd and KISS, and designing the special effects guitars used by KISS during concert tours at the height of their popularity. Later Robison worked in electronic design for the toy manufacturer Milton Bradley. Robison has served on a panel reviewing grant applications for the National Institutes of Mental Health and in 2010 Robison was appointed to two review boards of the controversial charity Autism Speaks. Another book by Robison is expected in 2011. Robison was diagnosed with AS as an adult, and has a son who also has AS. M)
Jonathan Swift (1667–1745, Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, and cleric, possibly the best prose satirist in English literature, wrote Gulliver’s Travels, might have had Meniere’s disease)
Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862, born David Henry Thoreau, American author, poet, abolitionist naturalist, tax resister, surveyor, historian, philosopher and transcendentalist. Thoreau wrote the book Walden, which is about simple living among nature, and the essay Civil Disobedience.)
Robert Walser (1878-1956, Swiss writer (in the German language), “was a total autodidact”, his highly original work has been compared with that of Beckett, Kafka, Proust and Joyce, during one period he wrote a large volume of works (known as “microgramms”) in minuscule handwriting in pencil, spent the last 25 years of his life in Swiss psychiatric institutions after entering voluntarily with the encouragement of his sister, where he continued his writing, chose not to leave after judged well enough to leave, diagnosed with schizophrenia, a diagnosis disputed by Lyons and Fitzgerald, who claim he had AS and depression and also met diagnostic criteria for schizoid personality disorder)
Herbert G. Wells (1866-1946, English writer of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his science fiction novels, socialist, he married twice (including a marriage to a cousin) and had numerous affairs, L-H)
Opal Irene Whiteley (1897-1992, also known by the names Opal Stanley Whiteley, Princesse Francoise d’Orleans and Francoise Marie de Bourbon-Orleans, a nature writer and a diarist who was raised in Oregon logging camps. During her time and today Whiteley is a mysterious, strange, legendary and romanticised figure. She became internationally famous when her childhood diary was published when she was in her 20s and became a bestseller. The author has written about Opal Whiteley and some other famous and fascinating people in some new books, which can be downloaded through Lili Marlene’s page at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/LiliMarlene
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939, poet, dramatist, public figure and mystic, winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1923, brother of artist Jack B. Yeats, W. B. Yeats has been identified by some as a dyslexic. Yeats was a member of the Athenaeum Club *)
Sir A.J. Ayer (1910–1989, British philosopher with some Jewish heritage, logical positivist, a professor of the philosophy of mind and logic and later a professor of logic at Oxford, is possibly best known for his widely read classic book Language, Truth and Logic which he wrote in his 20s, as a young boy displayed an extraordinary memory for literature and football facts and was physically clumsy and quarrelsome, unhappy and unpopular in boarding schools but a top academic performer, as an adult was a football fan, enjoyed dancing, socializing and nightlife, married four times and had numerous extra-marital relationships, M)
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832, English philosopher, jurist and reformer, an early advocate of utilitarianism and animal rights)
Kurt Godel (Goedel) (1906-1978, description in Mathematicians section)
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804, German philosopher, born Emanuel Kant but he changed his first name after he learned Hebrew, one of the most influential thinkers of the late Enlightenment, one of the most important figures in philosophy, Kant isolated himself socially for a decade, the result of his solitary work was Critique of Pure Reason, which is regarded as one of the greatest works of philosophy. Kant was a strong advocate of the rule of law and he believed that lying was not defensible under any circumstances. Noise bothered Kant.)
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000, American logician and analytic philosopher, was a professor of philosophy at Harvard University and served the US Navy in a military intelligence role during WWII. "William Van Orman Quine" is identified as a philosopher who arguably meets the criteria for Asperger syndrome in the book Succeeding in college with Asperger syndrome, and "William Quine" is briefly identified as a philosopher with AS in the book The genesis of artistic creativity by Michael Fitzgerald, M)
Bertrand Russell (1872–1970, winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1950, a member of the Cambridge Apostles *)
Adam Smith (1723-1790, description in Scientists and Academics section)
Socrates (ca. 470-399 BC, classical Greek philosopher, one of the founders of Western philosophy, a “gadfly of the state” who was sentenced to death, might have had epilepsy)
Spinoza (1632–1677, born Baruch Spinoza, changed his first name to Benedictus following his excommunication from the Jewish community because of his religious beliefs, also known as Bento de Spinoza, Dutch-Portuguese philosopher, a rationalist and an ethicist, laid groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment, worked as a lens grinder despite offers of more prestigious positions)
Simone Weil (1909–1943, French philosopher with Jewish ancestry, social activist and Christian mystic, sometimes wrote under the name Emile Novis, anorexia nervosa may have been the cause of her premature death)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951, Austrian, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, a history of giftedness and suicide in his wealthy, prominent Christian family with Jewish heritage, very late in speech development, educated at home till the age of 14, bullied at school, a classmate of Adolf Hitler, student of Bertrand Russell, lecturer of Alan Turing, studied engineering then mathematics then philosophy, won medals for bravery in WWI, a failure as a school teacher, was a professor of philosophy at Cambridge, “His true and unique precision was in registering pre-verbal states of mind.” (C. James 2007), on his brass plate in a chapel in Cambridge is written in Latin “Reason must be released from the chains of speech.” (C. James 2007), Wittgenstein was a member of the Cambridge Apostles *, was predominantly a homosexual, is described as having inherited dyslexia and “well read” by Ioan James, described as a bad speller by Gillberg, a translated note from one of Wittgenstein’s published works indicates that he either had grapheme-colour synaesthesia or knew of the condition; “It’s just like the way some people do not understand the question “What color has the vowel A for you?””(Ward 2008), Wittgenstein may have suffered from depression, his last words were “Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life.” Ludwig's brother Paul Wittgenstein was a concert pianist who continued his career playing only with his left hand after his right was amputated as the result of a war injury. Many famous composers wrote music for Paul Wittgenstein to play.)
Computers, Technology and Business
Charles Babbage (1791-1871, description in Mathematicians section)
Warren Buffett (b. 1930, American investor, businessman, philanthropist, currently the third richest person in the world. In 2008 listed as the world’s richest person by Forbes magazine. Buffett has a legendary reputation as an investor, and is known as “the sage of Omaha”. Many books have been written about Buffett and his investment strategies.
As a toddler Buffett showed a lack of confidence when we was learning to walk, and at around the age of 2 he was content to sit at his mother's feet staring quietly at a toothbrush for "two hours at a stretch" (Schroeder 2008 p.46). He had some unusual childhood hobbies - browsing a model train catalogue for hours, repetitively timing marbles rolling down a bathtub with a stopwatch, recording the license plate numbers of passing cars with a friend, memorizing facts. Buffett also collected bottle caps, stamps and coins when he was a boy. He made money from working in his own businesses and bought his first shares at around the age of 10. During his college years Buffett’s prodigious memory made studying easy, but he dressed poorly, had little luck with girls, was an annoying smartalec, a fussy eater and was generally “socially maladjusted” (Schroeder 2008 p. 97). He discovered a much-needed system for getting along with people and self-presentation in Dale Carnegie’s famous book How to win friends and influence people. Buffett conducted his own informal controlled trial of the advice given in this book, and he found that it worked, but Buffett was still a man with a restless mind and a limited diet who had little interest in social climbing.
Buffett’s mother was intelligent and had excelled as a student of mathematics. She was “obsessed with fitting in” (Schroeder 2008 p.207), and was verbally abusive to Warren and his older sister when they were young children. Her family had a history of high intelligence and depression in women, some of them admitted to mental institutions but no clear diagnosis was made. The biography of Buffett The snowball by Alice Schroeder contains much evidence indicating that Buffett may be an autist (and possibly also his business partner and his mother), it inspired at least two writers to speculate about Buffett and autism (Cowen 2009 p.30), (Lawson 2008), but there is no explicit mention of autism or AS in this book.
Despite his incredible wealth, Buffett is known for his frugal ways and has shown little interest in fashion or fancy food. For a large part of his life Buffett had a wife who he lived apart from but was on good terms with and also openly lived with a female companion, who he married in 2006. Buffett is reportedly an agnostic. Bill Gates, who is also in this list, has also been listed as the richest person in the world, is also known for his philanthropy, also has an unpretentious taste in food, and wears suits of the same Chinese label that Buffett wears, has been described as having a son-like relationship with Buffett. (Rushe 2008). M.)
Michael Burry (b. 1972?, American founder and manager of the Scion Capital LLC hedge fund, who correctly predicted the 2007 collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Burry is also a graduate of a medical school. During his residency in neurology Burry discovered that he did not enjoy working as a doctor. He made the decision to pursue his sideline as an untrained investment guru as a career and founded Scion Capital, a very successful fund that investors who were familiar with Burry were very keen to invest in. Burry subscribed to the “value investing” philosophy favoured by investment genius Warren Buffett, who is also in this list. Scion consistently outperformed the stock market. In 2005 Burry changed the direction of Scion from value investing to shorting selected subprime mortgage bonds using credit default swaps. Burry correctly predicted a collapse in 2007 of the subprime mortgage market and made a fortune for himself and investors, despite being pressured to sell some investments before the crash by frightened investors. In 2008 Burry closed Scion to focus on his own investments. Burry has argued in the New York Times that the US federal regulators should have recognized the risks in the subprime mortgage market that he had identified. When his child was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome Burry realized that he also has the condition. During his time as a resident neurologist Burry had been misdiagnosed with bipolar, a diagnosis that Burry had never believed. Burry had cancer of the left eye in infancy and lost the eye. Burry has been profiled in two recent books about investors who made money out of the 2007 collapse of the US housing bubble (Lewis 2010), (Zuckerman 2009) M)
Bram Cohen (b.1975, American computer programmer with Jewish ancestry, author of the BitTorrent computer downloading program, co-founder and CEO of the BitTorrent company. In 2005 Cohen was included among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. The first words that Cohen learned to read were computer programming commands. He displayed precocious talent in computer programming, and later dropped out of college. Cohen self-diagnosed with Asperger syndrome sometime in the mid-2000s. M)
Henry Ford (1863-1947, American founder of Ford Motor Co., pioneer of assembly line manufacturing, self-taught engineer, inventor, motor racing champion, “folk-hero to the American public”, the man who “put the world on wheels”, a pacifist and peace activist during WW1, Ford was stubbornly against unions but paid workers well, at one time the Ford Motor Co. treated it’s workers in a paternalistic and intrusive manner, some union organizers were beat up by Ford security staff, Ford lead the team that designed the Model T Ford “Tin Lizzie”, a classic design produced from 1908 to 1927, at one time half the cars in America were Model Ts, in the small, sparsely furnished enclosure in which the Model T was designed a rocking chair could be found, Ford owned a newspaper that published anti-Semitic material, he was greatly admired by Adolf Hitler and it is thought that the concept of the Volkswagen was based on the Model T, Ford had an intense, sober, single-minded, serious and not very social personality, “He was clearly an obsessive and idiosyncratic person.” “He gave very little attention to the opinion of others.” (Duncan 2008), Ford had a poor relationship with his only son but was a friend of aviator Charles Lindbergh, who is also in this list, and Thomas Edison, M, L-H)
Bill Gates KBE (b.1955, full name William Gates III KBE, American co-founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation and has been the chief software architect and CEO of Microsoft, ranked by Forbes magazine as the richest person in the world for 13 consecutive years and also in 2009, global philanthropist. Gates read an encyclopaedia through when he was a child. As a school student Gates had some conflicts with teachers, showed a love of organizing things and high ability at geography and other subjects, but got poor grades in citizenship and penmanship. Gates was thought to be a bit immature, with a messy desk and not paying attention. One student remembered Gates playing Risk “the board game of global domination” (Manes 1993 p.19). Gates’ mother took him to see a psychiatrist at the age of 11 as she was concerned at his shyness and remoteness, the psychiatrist considered Gates to be unchangeable (Rivlin 1999). In his youth Gates was good at activities such as skiing, but not much good at team sports. Gates was fortunate to go to a school that gave access to a computer through a terminal in 1967. He formed a successful computer program company with friends aged 14 and later dropped out of Harvard to form Microsoft. Gates is one of the many great entrepreneurs who have no MBA. He is reputed to have a very high IQ, an extraordinary memory, a horrible temper and tendencies towards arrogance, rudeness and absent-mindedness, at least in his younger years. Gates has been described as a workaholic and an insomniac, sleeping in odd places and at odd times. As a driver Gates has a record of speeding and inattentiveness. The eccentric Nobelist synaesthete physicist Richard Feynman was much admired by Gates. At least one sequence of images exists of Gates rocking in an autistic manner while testifying at a deposition in 1998. It appears that Gates tends to rock when concentrating and possibly when stressed. This love of rhythmic motion can be traced back to his childhood – rocking himself in a cradle as a baby, spending hours on a rocking horse as a child, later rocking in class while explaining algebra at the blackboard (Manes 1993 p.15, p. 24). Gates is also known for his spontaneous jumping at work. A nerdy lack of awareness of fashion can also be traced back to Gates’ childhood. Gates has been the subject of speculation about being autistic from a number of different sources over many years. The author of a 2009 book about autism compared some of Gates’ characteristics with the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for “Asperger’s disorder” and concluded that he would probably be given a diagnosis if he sought one (Benaron 2009 p.56). One of Bill Gates’ friends is Warren Buffett, who has also been listed by Forbes magazine as the world’s richest person, who is also known for his philanthropy, and who is also in this list. L-H, M)
Craig Newmark (b. 1952, American internet entrepreneur and founder of the website Craigslist. Craigslist is a network of online communities that features free online classified advertisements in a range of categories. Craigslist is an unusual company in that it has no marketers, no human resources, no meetings, no sales department and no business development (Wolf 2009), thus solving the common problem of conflict between the technical people and the marketing/business people in tech companies. It has been estimated that Craigslist would be worth billions if sold (Wolf 2009), and it has been blamed for causing decreases in newspaper's revenue from classified ads. In a 2009 blog posting Newmark speculated that he might have AS, and he has referred to himself as a recovering nerd. A 2009 Wired magazine article about Newmark and Craigslist described some traits of Newmark's that could be described as autistic.)
William Shockley (1910-1989, winner of Nobel Prize in physics in 1956, co-inventor of the transistor, Silicon Valley pioneer, professor, advocate of eugenics, sperm donor with the Repository For Germinal Choice, has been described as having had “reverse charisma” because he so often provoked dislike in others, possibly ambidextrous, M)
Richard Stallman (b.1953, sometimes uses the name “rms”, US born with Jewish heritage, software engineer, founder of the free software movement, launched the GNU Project, inventor of the “copyleft” concept, awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1990 and awarded many honorary doctorates and professorships, has been described as a “force of nature”, for many years lead an unconventional squatter lifestyle at a university, speaks a number of languages, an atheist who celebrates December 25th not as Christmas but instead as a parody of Christmas celebrating Newton’s birthday on this date. Stallman enjoys reading science fiction including works by Greg Egan, who is also in this list. In an interview Stallman described a difficult and rebellious childhood in which he was sent to a private school in which most students “were either insane or stupid”, and according to another source “Stallman considers himself afflicted, to some degree, by autism, a condition that, he says, makes it difficult for him to interact with people.”, but in a 2008 article Stallman is quoted as saying he does not have AS, but possibly has a “shadow” version of AS (Tennant 2008), R-H?)
Satoshi Tajiri (b. 1965, Japanese electronic game designer, creator of Pokémon (also known as Pocket Monsters), as a child was fond of collecting insects, has a working schedule that involves unusual sleeping patterns, reported to be diagnosed with Asperger syndrome)
Syd Barrett (1946-2006, real name Roger Barrett, enigmatic English songwriter, singer, guitarist and visual artist, best known as a founding member and songwriter of the psychedelic/progressive rock band Pink Floyd. Barrett's membership of the band finished after repeated failure to perform during concerts. He had been the main songwriter. Barrett withdrew from public life, but he released two solo albums in 1970 full of strange and unforgettable songs. There has been much speculation about why Barrett ceased to be a member of Pink Floyd, withdrew from the public eye and finally disconnected his home's door bell. Some believe he developed schizophrenia as the result of the use of mind-altering drugs. Barrett used LSD in the 1960s and apparently also used cannabis and the sedative drug Mandrax. Bipolar has been suggested. Some have argued that he had a breakdown due to stress. Former band-mate David Gilmour put forward a theory that a combination of epilepsy induced by strobe stage lighting and drugs altered Barrett's mental health (Geiger 2006). A lack of discipline combined with the death of his father has been cited as a cause. Some believe Barrett became disillusioned with rock music as a career.
Although media reports almost always describe Barrett as a case of mental illness, his sister Rosemary claimed he was never mentally ill, but never fitted the norm either. Pink Floyd members reportedly claimed that Barrett was unusual before he started using drugs heavily (Pareles 2006). According to Rosemary he spent some time in an institution and was assessed a number of times by psychiatrists over the years and was found to be unusual but not insane (Titchmarsh 2007). Rosemary quoted in Chapman’s 2010 book about Barrett claimed that “personality disorder” was a label that was given to Barrett after his stay in an institution (Chapman 2010 p. 361). This is the type of label that was given to some autistic adults before Asperger syndrome was recognized. Being labelled as mad by ordinary people but pronounced sane by qualified psychiatrists is an experience reported by some adults who have Asperger syndrome.
For a long time there has been speculation that he was autistic (Gallo 2006). Barrett's biographer Tim Willis described Barrett's mind as "...extraordinary... bordering on the autistic or Aspergic." (Willis 2006). Barrett had a talent for visual art, one of a group of talents that are characteristic of the autistic-type mind. Examples of technical creativity and experimentation that could be described a systemizing are easy to find in Barrett's life history. People who have Asperger syndrome (AS) typically develop a strong, sustained interest in a narrow, unusual subject or interest. Barrett's sister Rosemary has described his interest in Byzantine art "...it was an enormous interest of his and he said it was going to be a book but it was really just a collection of dates and facts that interested him." (Titchmarsh 2007). It is also worth noting that his painting from his school years to late in his life was done to please himself (Chapman 2010 p.8). Chapmans’s book Syd Barrett: a very irregular head gives a hint that Barrett might have had the long attention-span that is characteristic of autism – when he visited great art galleries with his girlfriend “he would sit for hours looking at one painting” rather than hang out with interesting people in the cafeteria (Chapman 2010 p. 44). While a lack of verbal ability is not a part of Barrett’s popular image, some accounts hint that he had some problems with verbal expression. Barrett’s nephew Ian Barrett described his uncle taking a long time to describe things in a very precise way (Chapman 2010 p. 366), a trait which apparently runs in the family. Barrett’s sister Rosemary theorized in the same book that because Barrett lived such a solitary life during his later years with no one to speak to, he got out of the habit of speaking and lost verbal ability (Chapman 2010 p. 377).
Toe-walking, habitual bouncing and an unusual walk, all persisting throughout Barrett's life, are some examples of obvious autistic traits. Reports of these odd motor traits can be found in biographies by Willis, and Watkinson & Anderson, and also in books about Pink Floyd. There is some evidence that Barrett’s unusual habit of bouncing on the balls of his feet while walking might have had advantages over the normal way that people walk and run. A study reported in New Scientist in January 2010 has found that running on the balls of the feet instead of the heels has much less physical impact on the feet, and two-thirds of endurance runners who habitually run barefoot run on the balls of their feet. Barrett was probably barefoot more often than is usual while growing up, because shoes do not accommodate toe-walking.
In his later years Barrett showed an unusual tolerance for cold, seen in public in unseasonal clothing and answering the door minimally clothed. This is typical of people who have AS. Barrett's reported tendency towards unusual outbursts of anger throughout his life (Willis 2002 book and extract in the Observer) could be consistent with AS or epilepsy of the temporal lobes. Barrett had many (hetero) sexual and romantic relationships from adolescence to the time of his withdrawal. There are reports of cross-dressing, and he wrote a hit single for Pink Floyd that was about a cross-dresser underwear thief.
There is no simple way to describe Barrett in relationships. He was socially popular but also independent and choosey about his friends. One source quoted by Rob Chapman in his 2010 book about Barrett described Barrett as kind, generous and sensitive but also in a world of his own. There is much anecdotal evidence that he had trouble tolerating crowds since his school years, but he still went to parties and got around. He was very popular with girls, women and groupies from his teens till his withdrawal from social life. He was attractive and charismatic and had some long-term relationships. He could also be violent towards some of the women in his life.
Barrett's sister and Tim Willis have described Barrett as a synaesthete or possible synaesthete "... he would say that a sound was a colour to him." (Titchmarsh 2007). This type of synaesthesia can be caused by high doses of LSD, so this statement raises questions. Early in his musical career Barrett described (to Rado Klose, an early Pink Floyd member) a C chord as yellow (Willis p. 21). Much later in Barrett's career, during the recording of his first solo album, one of Barrett's comments about the music provides further evidence of synaesthesia; "Perhaps we could make the middle darker and maybe the end a bit more middle-afternoonish [because] at the moment, it's too windy and icy" (Willis 2002 p. 106). Barrett "drew" songs (Willis 2002 p.21), representations that were most likely based on synaesthesia experiences. Miles' book about Pink Floyd gives fuller descriptions of Barrett's visual representations of his songs, in a book of coloured paintings (page 69) and drawings that resembled Venn diagrams (page 83). It would be fascinating to see these creations, if they still exist today. Some types of synaesthesia can be caused by high doses of LSD, so one could dismiss Barrett's synaesthesia as merely the side-effects of psychedelic drugs, but that could be a careless judgement. Drug-induced and genuine natural synaesthesia are different in a number of ways, so we might be able to tell which type Barrett experienced, based on descriptions of what his synaesthesia was like and how he used or described it. A group of researchers at Hannover Medical School has found that drug-induced synaesthesia does not have the consistency and automaticity that are the hallmarks of genuine synaesthesia (Sinke et al 2010). Because of this there would presumably be no point in making notes about drug-induced synaesthesia as a descriptive record to refer to later for re-creating musical triggers, because there would be no consistency between synaesthetic triggers and synaesthetic experiences. Based on the brief descriptions in Barry Miles’ book, I believe Barrett probably used his coloured representations of songs as working documents during song-writing, recording information about the songs to be referred to later. This means that if the colours represent experiences of musical synaesthesia, it must be genuine synaesthesia. Before we can categorize Barrett as a natural synaesthete with complete confidence, we would need to find evidence that he experienced synaesthesia early in life, before he started taking drugs. As an art school student Barrett had a very well developed sense of colour (Chapman 2010 p.50). One study had found that synaesthetes have an enhanced memory for colour (Yaro and Ward 2007). In his 2010 book Chapman asserted that the imagery in the song Astronomy Dominie by Barrett “conveys a strong sense of synaesthesia” (Chapman 2010 p.156).
It is possible that Barrett had a combination of different neurological or mental conditions. Autistic people have an increased susceptibility to epilepsy and to stress and anxiety, and researchers have reportedly found a possible genetic link between synaesthesia, autism and epilepsy (Robson 2009). A.
Béla Bártok (1881–1945, renowned Hungarian composer, pianist and collector of folk music, played piano at age of 4, might have had “perfect pitch”)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827, Prussian composer and pianist, displayed talent at a very young age, believed to have had “perfect pitch” and some evidence indicates that Beethoven possibly had synaesthesia, hand cast?? a biographer who knew Beethoven well claimed he was a left-hander but portraits show him as right-handed, L-H, 1)
Anton Bruckner (1824-1896, Austrian composer, an enigma to biographers, conservative and humble in outlook but radical as an artist, his career and talent bloomed late, never married)
David Byrne (b. 1952, Scottish-American musician, was a singer and songwriter with the defunct New Wave band Talking Heads, collaborated with Brian Eno, won a Golden Globe Award in 1988, an Academy Award in 1987 and a Grammy Award in 1988 with others for the score of the movie The Last Emperor, quote from Byrne’s blog from 2006 “I was a peculiar young man — borderline Asperger's, I would guess.”, in some 2007 media interviews Byrne speculated that he once had AS, one web site claims Byrne “was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.” , in his teens Byrne did his own editing and layering musical experimentation with his father's reel-to-reel tape recorder, L-H, M)
Glenn Gould (1932–1982, legendary and eccentric Canadian pianist, was a child prodigy, had “perfect pitch” and an extraordinary memory for music. In 1987 a recording of “sounds from Earth” which included Gould playing Bach was sent into space on two Voyager spacecrafts. Gould has been labelled as a hypochondriac and he was an insomniac. His eccentricities include making odd noises when he played the piano, a monotonous diet and dressing in warm winter clothes out of season. Gould hated bright sunlight and bright colours. As a child he threw a tantrum after being given a red toy fire engine, because of the colour (Ostwald 1997 p.p.47). Gould also refused to play with a ball when he was a young child. Gray overcast days were Gould’s favourite weather. Gould did not enjoy playing in concerts, and his career moved towards studio recording. Many different writers have speculated about autism and Gould’s eccentricity. One biographer (Ostwald) has argued that Gould was possibly a case of AS, another biographer (Bazzana) arguing that Gould did not have AS, while presenting evidence suggesting that he did. Musical historian Dr Timothy Maloney has argued that Gould possibly did have AS. The married woman who had a five-year live-in affair with Gould was interviewed in the 2009 documentary Genius Within: the Inner Life of Glenn Gould. Gould never married and he lived a quite solitary life. L-H)
John Hartford (1937-2001, original name John Harford, American musician and composer of bluegrass, country and folk music, won 2 Grammy Awards in 1968, one for best country and western song and one for best folk performance, very knowledgeable of Mississippi River culture, had a steamboat pilot’s licence, was able to draw with both hands at once and did artwork for some LP covers, M)
Ladyhawke/Pip Brown (b.1979, full name Phillipa Brown, New Zealand pop music singer-songwriter, she plays all of the instruments in the studio but tours with a band. In 2009 Ladyhawke won 2 ARIA Awards and was nominated for some others. Brown claims to have been diagnosed with AS by a psychologist (Sauma 2008) and she has discussed AS in a number of press interviews. Pip prefers to wear casual boy's and men's clothing. Allergies to various important medications and a rare infectious disease caused problems for Brown during her childhood and she is also lactose intolerant. Courtney Love is reportedly one of Ladyhawke's fans. L-H?)
Oscar Levant (1906-1972, American pianist, composer, actor and author, from a Jewish family, famous for making witty, off-colour and cutting remarks on TV and radio talk shows, wrote three volumes of memoirs including one titled Memoirs of an Amnesiac, became addicted to prescription drugs later in life, M)
Courtney Love (b. 1965, American singer/songwriter and actress, a member of the alternative rock band Hole, widow of Kurt Cobain, left-handed lead singer/songwriter/guitarist from the alternative rock band Nirvana. According to a biographer Love was diagnosed as a child by a therapist as mildly autistic, and she had a very tough and troubled childhood. She has experienced a number of personal problems associated with drug abuse. Love has been described as the most controversial woman in rock. She made a spectacle of herself in 2004 on The Late Show with David Letterman. Love has been described as a “female rock star who’s made art out of anger...”. Courtney Love/Hole’s latest CD titled Nobody’s Daughter was released in 2010. M)
Reg Mombassa (b. 1951, real name Christopher O’Doherty, New Zealand born Australian artist and musician. O’Doherty was a co-founding member, lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter in the Australian band Mental as Anything which was most popular in the 1980s. He is also famous for his designs for the surfwear company Mambo Graphics, which are generally cartoon-like, vulgar, funny, disturbing and/or bizarre and likely to appeal to male adolescents. Some of O’Doherty’s Mambo designs were adapted as giant float displays for the Sydney 2000 Olympics closing ceremony.
O’Doherty enjoyed drawing since his early childhood, pictures with masculine themes such as warfare and weapons. He was anxious as a child and still retains a tendency to experience the unpleasant emotions. O’Doherty’s mother sold encyclopaedias and passed on her love of book-learning to her sons. Chris developed a fascination with history which lasted to his adult years. WWII and the American Civil War are particularly interesting to O’Doherty. During his high school years O’Doherty taught himself to paint by copying pictures in art books. He claimed that he generally learns best on his own. During his teen years O’Doherty was a “violence magnet” and got into the habit of heavy drinking. It is ironic that O’Doherty is famous for designs for a surfwear label, as he did not feel a part of surf culture in his youth, does not like the feel of cold water, does not enjoy visiting the beach and is generally not an outdoors type. O’Doherty also paints peaceful rural/outer suburban landscapes, and one could say his art turns the ordinary into something extraordinary. O’Doherty completed a questionnaire about Asperger syndrome published in a newspaper, and found that he “came up fairly high on it” (p. 395) and he concluded that “...I think I’ve got a mild case of that...” (p.55). Dog Trumpet, the band which O’Doherty and his brother Peter are currently members of, has released a CD titled Antisocial Tendencies, and in 2005 O’Doherty had an art exhibition titled Recent Developments in Anti-Social Realism. O’Doherty habitually wears a shirt with a suit jacket, even in the bush. M, R-H?)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791, Austrian composer and musician, a child prodigy, started playing piano at 3 years, composing at 5, had “perfect pitch”, as a young child could play pieces perfectly from memory after hearing them once, his eidetic memory for musical notes is recalled in the anecdote about Mozart transcribing the Miserere after hearing it performed. Mozart had a large income but was hopeless at managing money. He enjoyed vulgar humour and was thought by some to have had Tourette syndrome, a neurological condition sometimes diagnosed in autistics (see the bibliography about Mozart and Tourettes below the references section). PANDAS has also been suggested as an explanation for Mozart's idiosyncratic personality (Simkin 1999). Mozart died at the age of 35 due to ill health, L-H, M, 3)
Craig Nicholls (b. 1977, Australian lead singer/songwriter/guitarist in critically-acclaimed Australian rock band The Vines, childhood interests of painting and listening to the Beatles are evident in his adult career. The Vines started out playing Nirvana covers. The “F-word” can be heard in all of the Vines’ CDs to date, and many Vines tracks feature ferocious or anguished sounding screaming and shouting noises. The Vines' made a particularly wild appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2002 which can be viewed on YouTube. Nicholls was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2004 by AS expert Dr Tony Attwood after being charged with assault, Nicholls found touring with the band to be stressful, his parents were consulted for information about what he was like as a child during the diagnostic process, in 2008 Asperger syndrome was cited by many media sources as the cause of an apparent mental health crisis suffered by Craig Nicholls which lead to the cancellation of Vines appearances at a number of Australian rock festivals and an overseas tour, while cancellation announcements at the Vines own web site cited severe "flight related anxiety" as a cause of cancellation of WA dates, and made no explicit mention of AS or autism as the reason for the rest of the 2008 cancellations. The Vines are expected to release a new album in 2010 and are listed as a support band for Powderfinger’s farewell tour for three dates. L-H?)
Nico (1938-1988, born Christa Paffgen, German singer, songwriter, harmonium player, started her career as a fashion model then moved on to acting, one of Andy Warhol’s “superstars”, a singer in The Velvet Underground and had a solo career from the 60s to the 80s creating music in a unique gothic folk avant-garde style, Nico has been described as “the witchiest woman in rock history” (DeRogatis 2009 p. 156), “weird and untalkative” (DeRogatis 2009 p. 86, and “Half goddess, half icicle” (rock critic Richard Goldstein quoted in DeRogatis 2009 p. 49), and “the most beautiful creature that ever lived” (DeRogatis 2009 p. 86). Nico’s voice has been described as “deep narcotic monotone”, bland, “wind in a drainpipe”, hollow and an “IBM computer with a Garbo accent.” (DeRogatis 2009). She is believed to have been raped at the age of 15, a heroin addict for many years, fluent in a number of languages, died as the result of medical negligence following a bicycle accident, survived by a son. Nico’s article at the French version of the Wikipedia has for years included an assertion that behaviour of Nico’s attributed to heroin addiction was more likely due to Asperger syndrome. Nico’s friend Andy Warhol has also been identified posthumously as a probable autist, and he also died as the result of medical negligence. Both friends were often photographed displaying a cold, deadpan facial expression.)
Gary Numan (b. 1958, born Gary Webb, English electro-pop music pioneer, at the beginning of his career recorded under the name Tubeway Army, biggest hits were Are ‘Friends’ Electric? and Cars, an aviation enthusiast who has flown around the world, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome by himself and his wife, Numan is also an atheist, M)
Tim Page (b. 1954, American music critic, writer, editor producer and professor. Page was written about classical music for the New York Times, Newsday and The Washington Post. In 1997 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his work as a music critic. Page has also written professionally about film and literature. He wrote the first biography of American author Dawn Powell, and played a major part in the revival of interest in her work, in a prolific burst of work that is clearly an example of an autistic special interest. Page has written introductions to books about the music of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who is also in this list. In 2007 Page revealed in an article in New Yorker magazine that he had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2000. In 2009 Page’s memoir was published in which he discussed life as an autist. M)
Paul Robeson (1898-1976, American singer, civil rights activist, actor, athlete and writer, qualified as a lawyer, of African-American heritage, was the only black student during his time at Rutgers University, condemned racism, segregation and lynching in the US, defended Stalin’s policies and won a Stalin Peace Prize in 1952, had a powerful bass-baritone singing voice, fluent in around 12 languages and studied other languages, M)
Erik Satie (1866–1925, born Eric Satie, French composer, pianist and writer, had a “… brief but frenziedly original career …” “Whatever was orthodox, Satie hated … his chamber pieces were designed to make the chamber uncomfortable.” (James 2007), Satie collected drawings of medieval buildings and many umbrellas, and had an obsession with cleanliness of the hands, wrote a book titled Memoirs of an Amnesiac based on his journals)
Screaming Lord Sutch (1940-1999, see description in Politicians and Leaders section)
Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908, American classical pianist and composer with African heritage, also known by his slave name Thomas Bethune, born blind, a musical prodigy and savant who played music before speaking first words, had an extraordinary memory for music and had a huge repertoire of mostly classical pieces, played for the President in the White House and toured the world in a busy and profitable career, born and died in slavery, the subject of a legal contest for custody)