14. Peter Roget published his famous thesaurus when he was 73 – and continued working on the book for another 17 years
Peter Roget made a lasting contribution to the English language. His thesaurus, originally published in 1852, remains a bestseller across the English-speaking world and is still the number one reference point for students of the language looking for synonyms or definitions of words. And, while Roget had developed an obsession with words and with lists from an early age, his thesaurus only came out when he was 73-years-old. Between then and his death at the age of 90, the book was re-printed 28 times.
That Roget published the book at all is quite remarkable. While he was undoubtedly highly intelligent, he was also prone to long spells of severe depression. Indeed, it’s believed that he began writing his thesaurus as a coping mechanism, to distract him from the stresses of his day job as a medical researcher and to take his mind off a long list of family tragedies. Despite all this, he still managed to have a family of his own and, after his death in 1869, his own son carried on the Roget legacy, expanding the book and re-releasing it on several more occasions.