People Who Became Famous After They Died

It must suck. You’re out there doing what you love, hoping to strike gold by painting or writing or acting. You’re hoping to inspire others to do the same. But no one notices, and no one seems to care about what you’ve got to offer. Not until you’re six feet under, of course. That’s when we really start to appreciate the artist who created something spectacular for their time. That’s when we notice. Of course, not everyone who becomes famous after death was an artist. We’ll start with the most obvious.

1. Jesus.

We’re not trying to say that he didn’t have a following before his crucifixion, but it was his death that inspired others to Christianity’s cause in the centuries following, and it was the story of his life and the miracles he wove in front of his believers that helped the then-budding religion grow into one of the most popular faiths in the world.

Jesus wasn’t in it for the fame, though. His followers were taught to be humble, to serve and provide for others, and to lead their lives meagerly. They thought money was evil (something modern-day Christians have most definitely forgotten), and with a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, it’s not that big a surprise that Jesus became such a symbol of change. What happened next was history, but we certainly won’t ever forget the story of his life.

2. Kafka

Franz Kafka is a well-known name now, but in his day he was pretty much nobody. He was a thinker, writer and lawyer as he made his way through life without anyone ever noticing. He had an existentialist philosophy. Oh, and he had problems with his dear old dad. Today we pick apart every letter he wrote, heralding his writing as a template for creativity.

3. Galileo

Galileo was a brilliant guy. We know him as an important astronomer, scientist and mathematician. Unfortunately, much of the old world was focused on conformity, and turmoil in the arena of science and religion was a constant during that time. When Galileo suggested that the earth revolved around the sun instead of remaining stationary, he almost dug his own grave.

Pope Urban VIII judged him a heretic, and he was forced to spend his remaining years at his villa near Florence, Italy. The pope didn’t do this out of spite or because Galileo’s observations were wrong–he did it because adversaries thought his position on the scientist was weak, and that the church would suffer as a result. Soonafter, Galileo went blind. Nine years after his trial ended, he died.

At least we appreciate him!