10 Amazing Child Prodigies Across Time (Famous and Not)

A child prodigy is defined as someone under the age of 13 who is capable of excelling in at least one area of skill at a level that is considered to be an adult level in that field. There are child prodigies in all different skills areas including music, math, chess, the arts and even humanities. As long as the child shows demonstrable adult-level skill in one of these areas prior to that age 13 mark, he or she is considered a prodigy in that area. The most famous child prodigies include Mozart for music and Picasso for art. Let’s take a closer look at those two prodigies as well as eight other amazing child prodigies in different skills areas at different times throughout history.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart is widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest child prodigies in music because of the amazing musical feats that he mastered at an early age. It is unclear whether he had an eidetic memory or simply was trained so extensively that he was able to become so skilled at music so early on but whatever the case may be, he certainly excelled in this area. Born in 1756, Mozart began playing the harpsichord at age 3 and could read and play music by age 5. He debuted onto the classical music scene one year later and went on to be one of the most prolific composers of all time.

2. Pablo Picasso.

You know this Spanish artist because he is a famous artist but did you know that he was also a child prodigy in the arts. One of his most well-known pieces of artwork, The Picador, was created in the late nineteenth century when he was only eight years old. He began exhibiting his art by the age of 15. Picasso went on to not only create great works of art but to get deeply involved in the science and math of art, inventing numerous creations that did and did not come to fruition.

3. Sergey Karjakin.

This Ukranian boy achieved the title of Grandmaster in Chess at the tender age of 12, a record-breaking feat that happened in 2002. Chess is considered one of the few games in which child prodigies can truly exist and actually compete with adults on an equal playing field. As the youngest person to hold the title of Grandmaster, Karjakin is considered to be among the top chess prodigies of all times.

4. Cho Hunhyun.

Another game that sometimes finds itself played by child prodigies but which doesn’t get nearly as much attention as chess is the Chinese game of Go. This is a tough game to learn but there are people out there like this kid who managed to become a professional Go player in 1962 when he was only nine years old. This child prodigy is considered by many to be the best Go player of all time.

5. William James Sidis.

You know those people that you hear about primarily in fiction (or TV shows like Numb3rs) who are so smart that they go to college when they are still kids? That’s the real life story of this boy who was born at the turn of the twentieth century and who was such a prodigy in both math and linguistics that he was accepted to attend Harvard University when he was only eleven years old. Interestingly, he strayed away from math entirely in his later years but is still considered to be one of the most intelligent people ever born.

6. March Tian Boedihardjo.

 If you thought that the age of eleven was young for starting to attend college then you’ll be even more surprised by this child who got into a Hong Kong University at the age of 9, the youngest student ever accepted to college in Hong Kong. It will be interesting to see what this child prodigy opts to do with his life now that he’s getting closer to college graduation as well as to his teenage years!

7.Sufiah Yusof.

Ten years before March Tian Boedihardjo was acceted to that Hong Kong University, Sufiah Yusof was accepted to Oxford University to study mathematics there. She was only twelve years old. This particular child prodigy interests me because it is rare to see female child prodigies and it is still rare to see women in advanced math careers so her experience as a modern-day child prodigy female in math was truly unique. But there’s more to this story. The pressure of the life was too much for her and it is rumored that she has spent the past ten years bouncing from waitressing jobs to prostitution to back to school. Imagine that! Being smart isn’t always easy at all.

8. Lucretia Maria Davidson.

Here is a more positive example of a female child prodigy although one that does have a somewhat sad ending. This woman born in the early nineteenth century was a child prodigy of words who made her mark as an astounding poet of her time before the age of 11. Sadly, her work as a poet lasted only five years because her life was cut short due to death by tuberculosis but she did manage to make her mark on history as a child prodigy in the art of poetry.

9. William Cullen Bryant.

This man is another poet who gained adult-level praise for his work before the age of 13 and so is considered a child prodigy of poetry. Also born in the early nineteenth century, Bryant published his first book at the age of ten. By the age of 13, he had completed a book of satire poems that were widely recognized for their advanced quality. 

10. Jean-François Champollion.

I am totally fascinated by the life of this man who was born at the end of the eighteenth century. His work was in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics which just sounds so interesting but he was considered a child prodigy before that due to the fact that he could speak several dead languages before the age of ten. By 16, he could speak more than one dozen languages in spite of the fact that his only teacher was a brother who himself was largely self-taught. Wow!

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Comments 18 comments

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 16 months ago from East Coast, United States

How does it happen that such young children are able to excel so early? This is a fascinating subject. When you hear about kids sent early to college, you have to wonder how they are able to maintain relationships with their peers who are so much more mature as well as with kids their own ages who are so far behind them mentally. It is a wonder!


Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle Porter 17 months ago from Chicago

I really enjoyed reading this hub.


thom w conroy profile image

thom w conroy 2 years ago

Wonderful hub! A bit jealous though as I try to figure out how to get the cap off the ketchup bottle ......


vibesites profile image

vibesites 3 years ago from United States

I envy these kids but of course I'm amazed at them! I wish I were a child prodigy too. :)


KenWu profile image

KenWu 3 years ago from Malaysia

Very interesting hub on the best of human beings on earth. Genius is born naturally!


Shimeru profile image

Shimeru 3 years ago from USA

Thanks for posting, interesting.


the Blue sun profile image

the Blue sun 3 years ago from Lake Charles, LA

Your hubs are talented keep up the good work :http://hubpages.com/health/Our-Health-not-Good...


expertscolumn profile image

expertscolumn 3 years ago from New York

I was only able to recognize the first two, very interesting


Kenja profile image

Kenja 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

As a person gifted with a gifted 14 year old (who took his math SATs at 12 and did well and learned the first 50 , then 75 and now 100 numbers of pi in a very short time, and is a top student in all other subjects as well), I will share this with him to show him what true genius is... to keep him studying, and humble. Super interesting hub. best, Ken


Sam 4 years ago

I think Jackie Evancho is a great child prodigy in the field of music being able to sing classical opera songs as any other professional singer and she's only 11 but rose to fame at the age of 10! She's fantastic!


rajesh geer 6 years ago

It is wonderful to be a prodigy;lost in a world of interest and innocence,drawing from an infinite reservoir

of knowledge.


alexinohio profile image

alexinohio 6 years ago from Cincinnati, Ohio

What an informative list of child prodigies! Thank you for compiling them!


Jennifer  6 years ago

Greetings:

The Canadian composer, André Mathieu was a child prodigy and began composing at the age of 4. His Concertino No. 2 (composed at 5) was recently performed by the Tucson Symhony Orchestra's opening night for their 2009-2010 season. Their DVD of Mathieu's music (and played by the brilliant Canadian pianist, Alain Lefevre) went to the top of the charts worldwide.


Debora Green 6 years ago

I think prodigy kids are the power of God through them, so we can see the light.....why we doubt about these kids? if we are not like kids we can not inherit the kingdonm of God


france 7 years ago

wow...what a nice brain...i think that kind of person is very high IQ and its easily to vow...


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

Wow indeed! Amazing how much talent can repose in a little child!


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Very interesting hub Kathryn and fascinating to see that there are so many different subjects to be a prodigy in. What about sport - is it because children are simply too small and not strong enough to compete against adults that they are not called prodigies?


C.Ferreira profile image

C.Ferreira 7 years ago from Rutland, VT

I'm not a child, but I am a prodigy! Check out my Hub! http://hubpages.com/community/Im-A-Prodigy...

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