All By Myself: 5 Famous Hermits

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For reasons ranging from displacement due to war to a pronounced disdain for society, some people spend years living alone. We call these people hermits, a name which has taken on a derogatory connotation over the years. But when you think about it objectively, who is more fairly judged: a bearded, wild-haired, cave-dwelling hermit, or someone who has seen the show “The Real Housewives of Orange County”? There might just be something to this whole hermit idea; it would certainly be the ultimate hipster move. These folks managed to live the hermit life for many years, anyway.

5 The Angriest Hermit

Ted Kaczynski hates society. He hates it so much that merely leaving it behind and living in a shack in the woods for 25 years was not enough. No, ol’ Ted had to lash out. Thus it was that he became The Unabomber, the man who terrorized Americans for nearly two decades, killing and maiming a handful of people with his cruel mail bombs. Under the threat of more attacks, several major newspapers published this Harvard grad and former Berkeley Professor’s maniacal, rambling manifesto. It was the language in this screed that his family members recognized as his, and they took their tip to the authorities.

4 The Thinking Man’s Hermit

Henry David Thoreau was arguably a dilettante hermit in practice, but he was the Real McCoy when it came to writing about the values of solitude, thought and reflection. Thoreau lived entirely alone on the banks of Walden Pond near Concord, MA for two years, from mid-1845 until late 1847. He travelled back into society from time to time, and always knew the setup was not permanent, thus he was not a true exemplar of hermit life – but for his fine writing, we’ll give him a nod anyway.

3 A Real Mountain Man

Noah John Rondeau, the “Adirondack Hermit,” is the quintessential example of fine hermitting. He basically hated what society was becoming and began to retreat from it in the year 1913 at 30 years of age. He spent most of his time alone, hunting and fishing in the Adirondack Mountains, and beginning in the year 1929, he lived the hermit life year-round. Rondeau spent the last of his 84 years alive back in civilization.

2 A Family Affair

One normally thinks of hermits as being alone, but we’re making an exception for this family, the Lykovs. For more than 40 years, they lived totally apart from the rest of the world, surviving in a small cabin built into a mountainside in Siberia, Russia. The family fled religious oppression in the late 1930s, and remained entirely isolated until a group of scientists on an oil-and-gas prospecting mission stumbled across their dwelling in 1978.

1 The Patient Soldier

For Lieutenant Hiroo Onada, World War II lasted a bit longer than it did for most soldiers. In fact, rather than ending in August of 1945, he did not “surrender” until March of 1974. Onada hid out in the jungles of a Philippine island for nearly 30 years! He had heard and seen occasional military aircraft, likely related to the Vietnam War or to other regional conflicts, and was firmly convinced that WWII was still underway until finally returning to society decades after the conflict ended.
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