1) Migues de Cervantes (Don Quixote) was captured during battle and made a slave for several years. He also had a permanently crippled arm from battle.
2) During his life, JS Bach was better known as a church organist than a composer. His compositions were considered old fashioned.
3) Telegraph and Morse code inventor Samuel Morse was a portrait and landscape painter by vocation and was New York University’s first professor of fine arts.
4) Novelist Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita) was a noted expert on butterflies and wrote a book on the subject.
5) Marquis de Sade’s novel 120 Days of Sodom was written while Sade was a prisoner in the Bastille. He lost the manuscript in the storming of the Bastille and it was discovered after his death in a wall of the prison during renovation. Upon its loss, Sade wrote that he cried ‘tears of blood.’
6) 20th century classical composer Charles Ives quit music to become an insurance executive.
7) Leonardo da Vinci wrote his notebooks in mirror image. It is believed this was part because he was left handed, making writing that way easier, and to obscure his personal notes from onlookers.
8) Jean Genet wrote his famed novel Our Lady of the Flowers while serving a life sentence in single-person cell in French prison. He was however later released from prison after petition. He secretly wrote the novel on stolen construction paper he hid in his bed.
9) American novelist Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn, Requiem for a Dream) used / instead of ‘. As in “It/s mine.” The / key was closer on his typewriter and Selby believed in writing fast. Though a celebrated and influential novelist, he was a high school dropout and broke other punctuation and grammar rules, including often not using periods, commas and paragraph indentations, and writing entire chapters in capitals.
10) English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a lifelong opium addict. Opium was prescribed to him as a pain reliever in the days and, as is often the case, he became addicted.