We tend to think of history like a comic book: we have heroes, we have villains, the end. But that is not how real life works. People are too complex to be boiled down into one easily digestible image. However, that has not stopped history from conveniently forgetting a few things about some of its most famous figures. From the bizarre, to the disgusting, to the downright horrifying, prepare for a look at the secret lives of ten history class staples you thought you knew.
10. Charles Dickens
Iconic English author Charles Dickens is probably the only Victorian figure most people can name. Aside from penning classics like A Tale of Two Citiesand Oliver Twist, Dickens was the mind behind everyone’s favorite holiday ghost story, A Christmas Carol. It seems obvious that the man who dreamed up Ebenezer Scrooge’s uplifting transformation would himself have been a pretty kind fellow.
But he was actually kind of an obnoxious creep. When not busy scribbling tales of generosity and love, Dickens was known to be fond of incredibly annoying “pranks.” He would speak in a language he had invented. He would run up to strangers on the street and screech bizarre nonsense riddles at them. And during one particularly insane trip to the beach, he grabbed a random young woman, dragged her down to the water, and threatened to kill her. He claimed he had fallen in love with her and that the two must drown together. So ironically, Dickens was the last guy you wanted over for Christmas dinner.
9. Charles Lindbergh
American aviator Charles Lindbergh made history with his famous 1927 non-stop flight across the Atlantic. This world-first rocketed Lindbergh to instant stardom and earned him the adoration of pretty much the entire planet. Maybe a little too much adoration, as it turns out.
Widespread affection and the ability to fly are apparently a recipe for temptation: Lindbergh had mistresses in far-flung locations the world over. When not with his wife Anne, he would spend time with his secretary, Valeska, or one of two sisters in Munich, Germany. These affairs lasted long enough for him to father children with all of them, and then kept right on going. Lindbergh kept a total of three families that knew nothing about the others. He would visit his illegitimate families a few times a year, stay for a few days, show them a good time, and then literally take off again. His children only ever knew him by a fake name.