Special Report

31 Famous Child Prodigies

Source: smithsonian / Flickr

16. Nathalia Crane (1913 – 1998)
> Country of origin: United States
> Talent: Poet

Nathalia Crane became famous for crafting poems that were printed in New York newspapers by the time she was 10. Crane became famous for her dreamy story titled “Romance” (which was later called “The Janitor’s Boy”) about a girl who dreams of running off to a desert island with the son of a janitor. Fame was something of a double-edged sword for Crane, who was accused of being a fraud. She withstood those accusations and continued writing poetry and two novels into her late teens.

Source: Verhoeff, Bert / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

17. Bobby Fischer (1943 – 2008)
> Country of origin: United States
> Talent: Chess grandmaster

Chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer became famous as the first, and so far only, American to win the world chess championship in 1972, when he defeated Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. Fischer learned chess from his sister when he was 6. By age 12, he was competing against America’s best chess players. Two years later, he won the U.S. Open Chess Championship and became a grandmaster at age 15.

Source: Courtesy of Heinrich Klaffs / Wikimedia Commons

18. Steve Winwood (1948 -)
> Country of origin: United Kingdom
> Talent: Musician

Steve Winwood, the British musical wunderkind who plays guitar, piano, and mandolin, started on the road to pop music stardom at the age of 15 in 1963 with the rhythm and blues/rock band the Spencer Davis Group. Four years later, he formed the groundbreaking group Traffic, one of the most influential bands of the 1960s and 1970s. The versatile Winwood continued to seek stimulating musical partnerships by combining with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech to form Blind Faith in 1969.

Source: Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

19. Stevie Wonder (1950 -)
> Country of origin: United States
> Talent: Musician

Stevie Wonder (born Steveland Judkins Morris) lived up to his last name. Even though he has been blind since he was a few days old, he learned to write music, play the piano, harmonica, and drums while he was very young. Wonder began his recording career at age 12 and performed under the name Little Stevie Wonder. He went on to post 28 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including the No. 1 “Fingertips – Pt 2” when he was 13 years old, in 1963.

Source: rupertomiller / Flickr

20. Judit Polgár (1976 -)
> Country of origin: Hungary
> Talent: Chess grandmaster

Judit Polgár was the youngest of three sisters who were accomplished chess players. In 1991, she became, at the time, the world’s youngest grandmaster at 15 years old. Polgár, spurred on by her father who drove all three of his daughters to become chess wizards, competed against only males and rose to eighth in the world in 2005, the only woman to reach the top 10. Polgár no longer plays competitively. She gives TED talks on chess.

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