recluse adj : withdrawn from society; seeking solitude; "lived an unsocial reclusive life" [syn: reclusive, withdrawn] n : one who lives in solitude [syn: hermit, solitary, solitudinarian, troglodyte]
EtymologyFrom Old (and modern) French reclus, past participle of of reclure, from Latin recludere ‘enclose’, from re- + claudere ‘close’.
A recluse is someone in isolation who hides away from the attention of the public, a person who lives in solitude, i.e. seclusion from intercourse with the world. The word is from the Latin recludere, which means "shut up" or "sequester".
A person may become a recluse for many reasons: a celebrity may seek to escape the attentions of his or her fans; a misanthrope may be unable to tolerate human society; a survivalist may be practicing self-sufficiency; and a criminal might hide away from people to avoid detection by police. It can also be due to psychological reasons, like: apathy, an autism spectrum disorder, a phobia, schizoid personality type, or various anxiety disorders.
It should be noted that this practice may not be voluntary as one may become a recluse due to illness. Some may become a recluse due to a physical deformity that makes their outward appearance unsettling to others. A person may also become a recluse for religious reasons, in which case he or she is usually referred to as a hermit or an anchorite.
Reclusiveness does not necessarily connote geographical isolation. A recluse may live in a crowded city, but infrequently leave the security of his or her home. However, isolated and sparsely populated states (e.g., Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska) often harbour recluses, who are often seeking complete escape from civilization.
In Japan, an estimated 1.2 million people suffer from psychological problems which cause reclusive behavior. The phenomenon of "Hikikomori" or "social withdrawal" has become a major problem, often blamed on Japan's education system and social pressure to succeed.
The following is a list of famous individuals who have disappeared from the public eye for a lengthy period of time, or have continually lived a reclusive lifestyle.
- Karl Albrecht and Theo Albrecht, German billionaires.
- Charles-Valentin Alkan, 19th century composer and virtuoso pianist who rarely ventured outside his Paris apartment in the latter half of his life.
- Kevin Ayers, English songwriter and musician, founding member of psychedelic pioneers Soft Machine and later solo cult maverick. Despite releasing a string of albums in the 1970's which are regarded with high critical acclaim, Ayers is famous for his self effacing, enigmatic nature and since 1969 has lived in near hiding in Deya Mallorca and a medieval village of Montolieu in the South of France.
- Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd guitarist. From his departure from Pink Floyd up to his death he kept a low profile, recording only two solo albums, granting no interviews and doing no live shows.
- Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, English-Parsi composer-pianist.
- Thomas Billington, retired professional wrestler who has made no public appearances since his final match on October 10, 1996. He published an autobiography (Pure Dynamite) in 1998, but has only granted a few interviews with Canadian publication SLAM! Wrestling in the late 90s. Billington has been confined to a wheelchair for the past decade, and few people have been able to get in touch with him. Mick Foley is a friend of Billington, as was Chris Benoit who idolized Billington in his youth.
- Clara Bow, silent film actress
- Marlon Brando, famous method actor, described as very reclusive - especially after his son murdered his daughter's boyfriend, and his daughter committed suicide five years later.
- Anne Briggs, English folk singer. After releasing two critical acclaimed albums, she became a market gardener and avoided all contact with the music scene. Till this day, she has refused a return to studio and lives a private life, refusing all requests for interviews.
- Tod Browning, American film actor and director whose career spanned both the silent and talkie movie eras.
- Jane Bunford, the tallest person recorded in British medical history, was a recluse in the last years of her life. Not much is known about her and no-one has ever seen any photographs of her whilst alive. She died in April 1922.
- Vashti Bunyan, English folk artist. Since the release of her debut, Just Another Diamond Day, she spent 30 years out of spotlight, living a secluded life in Ireland till the release of her second album Lookaftering
- Octavia E. Butler, African-American science fiction author.
- Henry Cavendish, British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen.
- Jack Chick, Christian fundamentalist comic book publisher. Has given only one interview since 1975 and has not allowed a photograph to be taken.
- John Maxwell Coetzee, South-African Literature Nobel Prize winner and two time Booker award winner.
- The Collyer brothers, compulsive hoarders whose habits were only known after they were both found dead in their home.
- Al Columbia, Comic book artist. His refusal of fame, slow work and his attempts to run out from spotlight, has prompted fans to ask in numerous blogs and forums " Whatever happened to Al Columbia?"
- Matthew Corbett, Nobody currently knows what Matthew is doing with his life. His last public TV appearance was in 1998 when he retired from Sooty and Co. Since then the public have been left in the dark about his current life or whereabouts. Since leaving The Sooty Show only one photo exists of him from 2004.
- Henry Darger, American writer, who created a 15,143-page illustrated book discovered only after his death.
- Miles Davis, American jazz musician/composer.
- Robert De Niro, actor.
- John Deacon, English bassist with the rock band Queen.
- Eileen Derbyshire, soap opera actress (Coronation Street).
- Emily Dickinson, poet who became increasingly secluded as those close to her died.
- Steve Ditko, American comic book artist and co-creator of Spider-Man. He has never allowed himself to be interviewed or photographed, based on a personal conviction that his work should speak for itself.
- Janez Drnovšek, Slovenian president.
- Réjean Ducharme, Quebec poet and playwright.
- Doris Duke, philanthropist.
- Bob Dylan, musician who went into a 20-month seclusion after a motorcycle accident.
- Rod Evans, original singer of rock band Deep Purple. He has not been seen publicly for more than 25 years.
- Lujan Fernandez, Argentinian Model.
- Enzo Ferrari, founder of Italian super-car maker Ferrari.
- Bobby Fischer, the former world chess champion. His reclusiveness in later years was due in part to attempts to extradite him to the USA to face charges of breaking economic sanctions against Serbia, then Yugoslavia, when he played a rematch there against Boris Spassky. Fischer has reportedly terminated friendships with people who gave out his contact information.
- Greta Garbo, actress, who famously said, "I want to be alone."
- João Gilberto, Brazilian musician.
- Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist, who later in life only talked to others by phone or letter.
- Alexander Grothendieck, German mathematician, winner of the Fields Medal. Retired from field at age 42. Left his home in 1991; exact whereabouts are not known although he is believed to be living in southern France or Andorra. Does not entertain any visitors.
- Setsuko Hara, Japanese actress. Nicknamed the "Greta Garbo of Japan ".
- Thomas Harris, author of Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs.
- George Harrison, songwriter who went on hiatus several times during his life, particularly during the '90s until his death in 2001.
- Howard Hughes, movie producer and aircraft entrepreneur, who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- John Hughes, film director of classic eighties teen films.
- Denis Johnson, American writer and National Book Award winner
- Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Prior to his arrest and trial, Kaczynski lived alone in a remote cabin in Montana, abandoning virtually all twentieth-century technology, even writing his entire Unabomber Manifesto using an old-model typewriter.
- The band Kraftwerk, influental German electronic music group. The band's almost yearly output of music during the 1970's dwindled during throughout the 80's, which saw only two full studio albums. "Their legendary Düsseldorf studio, Kling Klang, has no telephone, no fax machine, no receptionist and returns all mail unopened. They have not attended a photo shoot since 1978." http://arts.guardian.co.uk/fridayreview/story/0,12102,1004937,00.html.
- Stanley Kubrick, film-maker. He rarely gave interviews, or was ever seen in public, although close friends and family all regarded him as a fairly normal person, contrary to the public myths surrounding him.
- Robert Lange, award-winning record producer and songwriter.
- Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird.
- John Lennon, songwriter who hid from the public eye to raise his second child until 1980.
- Georges Lentz, composer.
- Thomas Ligotti, author.
- James Lucas, wealthy Victorian Englishman who barricaded himself into his mansion for 25 years and became a national celebrity.
- Benito Lynch, Argentinian writer
- Terrence Malick, film director, has made only four feature films in 32 years. Contract stipulates that no current photos of him are to be taken for promotional purposes and he does not have to do media to promote the film (he doesn't).
- Jeff Mangum, singer of the band Neutral Milk Hotel.
- Chris Marker, French filmmaker and photographer. Never gives interviews and when queried for a photograph of himself, will respond by sending a picture of a cat.
- Martin Margiela, Belgian fashion designer.
- Lee Mavers, lead singer of the La's, he hasn't recorded an album in 15 years and has refused, until recently, all requests for interviews and reunion concerts. His erratic behavior and eccentricity are legendary. Has been called by The Guardian and Rodrigo Fresan "the J.D. Salinger of pop."
- Alex McAulay, author and musician under the name Charles Douglas.
- Cormac McCarthy, author.
- Darin Morgan, Emmy award winning TV writer, famous for his work on the X-Files and Millennium.
- Chris Morris, English Satirist.
- Van Morrison, musician.
- Morrissey, former lead singer of The Smiths.
- Eddie Murphy, comedian/actor. Rarely seen in public when not at the standard press junkets for his films. Never gives print interviews.
- Pola Negri, silent film actress
- Jimmy Nicol, Session drummer who replaced Ringo Starr in the Beatles for a brief time in 1964 while Ringo was ill.
- Charles Ogden, Children's book author. No photographs of him have ever been published, and his whereabouts have never been disclosed.
- Fredrik Olsen, Norwegian shipping magnate
- Amancio Ortega, a Spanish billionaire.
- Bettie Page, American softcore S&M pin-up model who was at the peak of her popularity during the 1950's. She withdrew from public life during the 1960's, rarely granting interviews and refusing to be photographed.
- Grigori Perelman, Russian mathematician, winner of the Fields Medal.
- Christopher Pike (author), bestselling author of young adult and children's fiction.
- Marcel Proust, French author of In Search of Lost Time
- Thomas Pynchon, author. Pynchon has found an excellent way to preserve his privacy on top of granting no interviews and avoiding public appearances: no photographs of him have knowingly been taken since the early 1960s. Thus, no one is really sure what he looks like. However, he provided his voice to two Simpsons episodes.
- The Residents, rock band who always appear masked.
- Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails frontman who recovered from social anxiety.
- Axl Rose, singer of the band Guns N' Roses avoided the public in varying forms from 1994 to May of 2006.
- Juan Rulfo, Mexican writer who refused all kind of publicity and interviews and only wrote two works: Pedro paramo and El llano en llamas.
- Yves Saint-Laurent, French Fashion Designer.
- J. D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger has lived in rural New Hampshire since shortly after the novel's publication, has given no interviews since 1980 and published no new writing since the short story "Hapworth 16, 1924" appeared in The New Yorker in 1965.
- Camilo Sesto Spanish singer, sometimnes nicknamed " The Spanish Michael Jackson" for his eccentric and erractic personality. Since the 80s, Sesto became more and more reclusive, especially after his son was borne in 1983 by a Mexican fan.
- Bert Schneider, American film producer and Academy Award-winner whose last film, Days Of Heaven , was filmed in 1978. After that, he bought a house in Beverly Hills and disappeared from public view.
- Masamune Shirow, manga artist/writer. Never allows photographs of himself to be published.
- Phil Spector, record producer.
- Layne Staley, vocalist and songwriter for Alice in Chains.
- Owsley Stanley, Sound enginner for The Grateful Dead and Psychedelic guru of LSD in the 60's.
- Sly Stone, funk musician.
- Patrick Süskind, German author of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
- John Swartzwelder, most prolific writer of The Simpsons. He has been credited with over 60 episodes, most of which are classics.
- B. Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. His true identity is still a matter of debate.
- John Twelve Hawks , American Science fiction writer. Said to live "off the grid".
- Tom Verlaine, Former guitarrist and frontman of legendary punk band Television.
- Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, who retired from music in 1982 and has not been seen publicly for upwards of 10 years. He is rumored to have multiple sclerosis.
- Jan-Michael Vincent , American actor who was last seen in public at 2004. He is currently said to be retired from acting and lives a very secluded life in Warren County without contact with the local residents.
- The Wachowski Brothers, filmmakers.
- Ken Wahl, American actor. Since the tv movie of his tv series Wiseguy in 1996, he has remained almost out of the public eye, with no public appearances since 1997.
- Scott Walker, musician.
- Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes. He gave few interviews during the strip's run, refused to pose for promotional pictures after 1985 and even today maintains a low profile in the Cleveland suburb where he grew up.
- Brian Wilson, singer and songwriter for The Beach Boys.
Diogenes, Hieronymian, Hieronymite, Timon of Athens, anchoress, anchorite, anchoritic, ascetic, bedridden invalid, cenobite, character, cloistered, cloistered monk, closet cynic, crackpot, crank, desert fathers, desert saints, domestic, eccentric, eremite, eremitic, erratic, flake, freak, hermetic, hermit, hermitess, hermitic, hermitish, homebody, invalid, isolationist, kook, loner, marabout, monk, nonconformist, nun, nut, oddball, outcast, pariah, pillar saint, pillarist, screwball, secluse, seclusionist, seclusive, sequestered, shut in, shut up, shut-in, solitaire, solitary, solitudinarian, stay-at-home, strange duck, stylite, weirdo