Anyone can be famous and the same goes for people who never even existed. Whether they are part of ancient folklore or popular legends, history has been kind to many famous people who you might be surprised to know that they were never real. Let’s have a look at the 10 famous people who never existed:
The tale of Robin Hood robbing the rich and giving to the poor is one of the most adapted stories in not only literature but also movies yet the heroic outlaw was never a real figure.
A highly skilled archer and swordsmen, the references of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men appear two centuries after the time of his assumed lifetime.
Not only that, but even his name has been a matter of debate as it is assumed to be a variation of Robehod – a title generally given to English lawbreakers.
A fictional character created by Indian author Abdul Halim Sharar, Anarkali was a slave girl who was ordered to be buried alive between two walls of a tomb by Emperor Akbar due to her affair with his son Jahangir.
Nevertheless, a vast amount of Pakistanis and Indians believe the story to be true, and even to this day, the story of Anarkali brings numerous tourists to Pakistan’s city of Lahore. Real or not, the legend of Anarkali has received so much attention that she even has a mausoleum dedicated to her in Lahore.
The Greek author has two epic poems, Iliad and Odyssey, to his name and even has his official Facebook page. Apart from universally believed to be a blind writer from Ionia, almost everything else about Homer is debated to the point of wondering whether he actually existed.
In fact, not even the timeline of his life is confirmed but generally accepted to be during the late seventh century and early eighth century. Even if that was true, his works seem to be too advance for the mentioned time period and are now generally attributed to unidentifiable authors.
The folk hero holds a special place in the hearts of every individual in Switzerland. Presumably lived in the 14th century, William Tell was an expert marksman who shot an apple off the head of his own son, assassinated a tyrannical official, and often stepped up to oppressive authority.
Today, Tell is so respected that November 18 has been given the title of William Tell Day to honor him. Mostly famous for the epic tale of shooting an apple off his son’s head, it is to be noted that such action has been a part of several legends and myths including Norse mythology.
Furthermore, the earliest accounts only mention him by pictures instead of actual texts so it is highly unlikely that Tell was a real figure.
A fictional cook made by the Washburn-Crosby Company, Betty Crocker was a marketing strategy used in the advertising of several food and recipes. Based on the likeness of vaudeville performer Adelaide Hawley Cumming, the character became an American cultural icon.
The first name of the sweetheart of baking was considered too American and the last name was chosen from one of the directors of the company’s board. Despite being unreal, Crocker was treated as such and even had her own signature. In 1945, Fortune magazine named her the second most popular woman in America.
This Chinese general and military strategist has a legacy richer than most real people but like every other entry in the list, General Sun Tzu has been the subject of authenticity. Best known for being the author of the 5th-century military tactics book The Art of War which is still considered a bible for army men, the authorship has been doubted.
Crossbows, military hierarchies, and several other articles mentioned in the book did not exist in the assumed lifetime of Tzu nor he is mentioned in The Commentary of Zuo which highlights several notable Chinese figures of his time period. Suggested to be a work of several authors and military strategists, scholars have deemed Sun Tzu’s credits as a result of mishandled history.
The picture of a thin, tall, white-bearded man wearing red, blue, and white-colored clothes pointing and looking right at its watcher is the most iconic image in America. During the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom, a meat packer by the name of Samuel Wilson supplied barrels of beef to the US Army and stamped them with “US” on them.
For one reason or the other, the US soldiers began referring to the beef as “Uncle Sam’s”. The story soon made its way to local newspapers and the federal government got itself a new nickname. Despite being universally accepted that Uncle Sam is in fact nothing more than a character designed for a poster that encourages the enlistment of soldiers, he has earned the status of the most famous person who never existed.
Undoubtedly the most controversial entry in the list, English playwright and poet William Shakespeare did exist but probably not the way you know it. Historians have been puzzled over the fact that the spellings of his six existing signatures are not consistent. How can the most acclaimed author in history not know how to spell his own name?
Furthermore, due to the lack of educational records of the author, it is doubtful that his vocabulary could even be close to the alleged amount of 66,534 words. While many historians do agree upon Shakespeare being real, they feel that the name “Shakespeare” was a pseudonym and his works are a product of more than one author.