Old age might slow us down, but it need not be a barrier to great accomplishments. Take the woman who spent her work-life as a confectioner, then became a literary icon in her nineties. Or the French infantryman who served for ninety years, and died still a soldier at age 108. Below are twenty five things about those and other historic figures who did not let old age stop them from impressive deeds.
A Confectioner, But Became a Famous Writer and Poetess in Her Old Age
It is never too late to reach the heights of success. Few illustrate that better than Brazilian poetess and writer Ana Lins dos Guimares Peixoto Bretas (1889 – 1985), better known by her pen name, Cora Coralina. She dropped out of school after third grade, and spent her working life as a small bakery confectioner to support her six children after her husband’s death. In 1965, when she was 75-years-old, she published her first book, a poetry collection. Her second book was published in 1976, at age 86. Her works languished in relative obscurity for years. Then in 1980, she gained widespread popularity after Carlos Drummond de Andrade, one of Latin America’s most distinguished literary figures, praised her poetry.
Coralina thus finally achieved fame and fortune when she was in her nineties. Her writings, especially those on women’s issues, rural poverty, and Afro-Brazilian mythology, made her one of the most relevant voices in national literature. In 1984, at age 94, she was voted the “Literary Personality of the Year” by Brazil’s Union of Writers. Her work remained popular after her death. All her books are regularly reprinted, with many having already gone past ten editions. Today, she is viewed as one of Brazil’s literary icons and most important writers. Her house became a museum, and numerous schools, museums, libraries, and cultural centers throughout the country are named after her.