Nine Historical Figures Believed to Have Died Virgins

Lewis Carroll

If you are sans a sweetie this Valentine's Day, take heart: you're not alone. In fact, some of history's most influential people never got any action at all. Here are a few of them.

  1. Isaac Newton. Possibly the most well-documented historical virgin, Newton (who, after establishing landmark theories in mathematics and inventing physics, spent the rest of his life trying to calculate the date of the Apocalypse based on Bible passages) was quite proud of his virginity.
  2. Queen Elizabeth I. They didn't call her the Virgin Queen for nothing.
  3. Joseph Cornell. The reclusive American artist lived with his mother and brother until old age, and is said to have had "some regrets" when, nearing the end of his life, he admitted to never consummating his numerous crushes on actresses, artists, ballerinas and local girls. Other art virgins: Winslow Homer, John Ruskin, Leonardo da Vinci (possibly).
  4. Friedrich Nietzsche. Proving that most philosophers' output is meant to justify their own insecurities, the famed misanthropist Nietzsche was also painfully shy around women. Though some suspect he was a closet homosexual, there's nothing to indicate that he acted on any desires, whatever they were. Ironically, he died from syphilis – the result of a medical infection. Other frustrated philosophers: Rene Descartes, Henry David Thoreau, and Immanuel Kant were all allegedly lifelong virgins.
  5. Antoni Gaudí. Barcelona's legendary architect, the misogynistic, hermit-like Gaudí avoided sexual contact all his life. Surprising, considering the organic sensuality of his buildings and churches.
  6. Adolf Hitler? Despite myriad rumors of bizarre fetishes, many historians suggest that among Hitler's obsessive notions of "purity" was the sexual kind: even his relationship with longtime girlfriend Eva Braun was said to be chaste. Who will ever know?
  7. Lewis Carroll. Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – "Lewis Carroll" to his literary admirers – avoided the company of grown-up women in favor of, well, little girls. Due to Victorian propriety, Carroll had no sexual relations with his young charges, getting his jollies instead by photographing them in the nude. (Most of his photos he demanded be burnt upon his death.) Other kiddie book authors who died virgins: Hans Christian Andersen, J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan). Draw your own conclusions.
  8. Jorge Luis Borges. The treasured Argentinian writer was revealed to have died a virgin by his gossipy longtime maid. Borges stayed true to his first love – Mama – until her death, at which point he did marry (very late in life), though his maid insisted it was a sexless marriage. Other authors who never got any: Emily Brontë, Jane Austen, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift.
  9. Ludwig van Beethoven. Despite the gothic romance depicted in the film Immortal Beloved and rumors that he died of syphilis (the scars on his face are now believed to be from lupus), it's currently accepted that Beethoven was a lifelong celibate. Other virgin composers: Anton Bruckner, Glenn Gould.