Every era produces and witnesses the genius of young children, otherwise known as “prodigies.” These prodigies, with their exceptional talent, manage to draw and capture the attention of several tabloids as they are tailored made for a great human interest story. They are, in most cases, revered as movie/sports stars by their fans. While some prodigies do go on to have a successful career of their choosing, others either fade into oblivion or end up doing something entirely different. Here is a list of 10 lesser-known prodigies who, with their exceptional genius, left an indelible mark on the world.
1. Judit Polgár – She proved her father’s point that prodigies are not always born gifted. They can be trained to do unbelievable things as well.
Born to a child psychologist father, Laszlo Polgar, Judit and her two elder sisters were like an educational project for their father. Born on 23 July 1976, she was the youngest of the three sisters.
Judit’s father, Laszlo, believed that it is possible to raise prodigies with early training and mental ability is not necessarily an innate quality. His belief came true when the Polgár sisters took the male-dominated chess world by storm.
Judit proved to give better results when she outshone her sisters by the age of 15 in December 1991. She became the youngest player ever to win the title of Grandmaster, breaking the record earlier held by American Grandmaster, Bobby Fischer.
She chose to refuse women-only events and went on to defeat world chess champion Boris Spassky in 1993. She is one of the best female chess players of all time. She was ranked the No. 1 woman chess player in the world from 1989 until 2015. She retired on 13 August 2014 and was installed as the head coach of the Hungarian national men’s team in June 2015.
2. Edmund Thomas Clint – Clint painted all the different hues of love, death, and solitude on his canvas before exiting the world’s stage at a very young age.
Edmund Thomas Clint, an art prodigy, was born on May 19, 1976, in Kochi, Kerala. His life on earth was merely six years and 11 months, but in this short duration, he produced some 25,000 pieces of artwork. Mullaparambil Thomas Joseph, Clint’s father, named him after his favorite actor, Clint Eastwood. Clint was fond of painting traditional events and festivals.
Encouraged by his father and mother and with the guidance of Mohanan, Clint quickly graduated from chalks to crayons to watercolors. His paintings depicted his version of the world. Though he was incredibly young, his artwork illustrated various aspects of life, which showed his keen observation at such a young age. Clint’s paintings present a kaleidoscopic view of the world which is often lost on others. Even to this day, his artworks intrigue and excite art lovers across generations.
Kidney failure cost him his life, but his work to date continues to astound people all across the world. A painting competition for budding artists from across the world is organized in the honor of Clint every year.
3. William James Sidis – Sidis was considered to be the smartest man to ever walk on this planet. Later, he decided to spend his life away from the glare of the media.
An offspring of Jewish parents who migrated from Ukraine, William James Sidis was born in New York on 1 April 1898. A child prodigy in mathematics and linguistics, he became the youngest person to enter Harvard University at the age of 9. However, due to the rules in place at the time, he was not allowed to attend classes until he was 11 years old.
His father, a psychologist, and mother, a doctor, encouraged his intrepid thirst for knowledge. By the age of eight, he had already self-taught himself eight languages. It is believed that his IQ ranged from 250 to 300.
William started reading at the age of just 18 months and could speak several languages, including French, Turkish, Armenian, Hebrew, German, and others by the age of six. He also invented a language of his own and penned down a novel, poems, and a constitution for a utopian world. Sidis gave a lecture on four-dimensional bodies at Harvard while he was still a student there. The lecture was so complex that most people could not even understand it. However, those who could grasp it claimed it was a revelation.
Sidis wrote many books and covered a wide range of topics like cosmology, history, anthropology, and philology. He believed that the best way to live life is through solitude. He passed away due to a cerebral hemorrhage in 1944.