Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich (May 15, 1773 – June 11, 1859) was a German-Austrian politician and statesman and was one of the most important diplomats of his era. He was a major figure in the negotiations before and during the Congress of Vienna and is considered both a paradigm of foreign-policy management and a major figure in the development of diplomatic praxis. He was the archetypal practitioner of 19th-century diplomatic realism, being deeply rooted in the postulates of the balance of power. For generations, Metternich was castigated as a blind reactionary. After World War I, some historians suggested that one of the main reasons for his opposition to giving power to the people was his apprehension that it would eventually lead to the political dominance of German nationalism.
Shakespeare – Simply the greatest writer in English history.
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s preeminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon” (or simply “The Bard”). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
His actual birthdate is unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, St George’s Day. This date, which can be traced back to an eighteenth-century scholar’s mistake, has proved appealing because Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616.
Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 [O.S. 21 March] – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity. Although he introduced no new forms, he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust contrapuntal technique, an unrivalled control of harmonic and motivic organisation in composition for diverse instrumentation, and the adaptation of rhythms and textures from abroad, particularly Italy and France.
Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. Some of his paintings are now among the world’s best known, most popular and expensive works of art. Most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life, during which time he cut off part of his left ear following a breakdown in his friendship with Paul Gauguin. After this he suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness, which led to his suicide.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform and poet. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism, and founded his own school of experimental research psychology—the experimental analysis of behavior. His analysis of human behavior culminated in his work Verbal Behavior, which has recently seen enormous increase in interest experimentally and in applied setting. In a recent survey, Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century. He was a prolific author who published 21 books and 180 articles.
Victor Hugo – French writer and leader of the Romantic movement.
Victor-Marie Hugo (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).
Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870), pen-name “Boz”, was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, as well as a vigorous social campaigner.
Critics George Gissing and G. K. Chesterton championed Dickens’s mastery of prose, his endless invention of unique, clever personalities, and his powerful social sensibilities, but fellow writers such as George Henry Lewes, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf faulted his work for sentimentality, implausible occurrences, and grotesque characterizations.
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish expatriate author of the 20th century. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, full name Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over six hundred works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music; and he is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.