Things People Accomplished at Your Age

by Joe Plemon on May 26, 2010

Which of the following emotions  are you more likely to feel when reading what other people accomplished at your age: inspiration or depression? I long ago realized that I am not a prodigy, so I am not going to lament the fact that I didn’t write my first classic novel at age 20 – something both Mary Shelly (Frankenstein) and Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) achieved – or measure the speed of light when I was 30 (like Physicist Armand H. L. Fizeau).

Grandma Moses did not begin painting until she was in her 70s

However, I am inspired by the accomplishments of those who didn’t get their starts early in life. Jean Eugene Atget, now considered one of the world’s greatest photographers, did not begin until he was 40. Renowned American folk artist Grandma Moses did not take up her craft until she was in her 70s and, Terri Tapper, at age 50, became the oldest female certified kiteboard instructor in the USA (and possibly the world).

From the web site Museum of Conceptual Art, these are accomplishments from people of the following ages:

Age 10

  • Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget published a scientific article, based on observations of an albino sparrow near his home.
  • Future United States Senator Claude Pepper carved the words “Claude Pepper, United States Senator” on a tree.

Age 20

  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and co-founded Microsoft.
  • English novelist Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, which was immediately successful.
  • Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, her second and most famous novel.
  • English author Elizabeth Barrett Browning published her first volume of poetry.

Age 30

  • Mark Twain published his first short story, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.”
  • Physicist Armand H. L. Fizeau measured the speed of light.
  • Donald Trump persuaded bankers to lend him $80 million so he could buy the Commodore Hotel.
  • Bill Gates was the first person ever to become a billionaire by age 30.

John Glenn, at age 40, became the first American to orbit the earth

Age 40

  • John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, a mother of six who occasionally wrote for magazines, published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an antislavery novel of such force that it is generally recognized as one of the causes of the Civil War.
  • Jean Eugene Atget, now considered one of the greatest photographers, took up photography.

Age 50

  • Terri Tapper became the oldest female certified kiteboard instructor in the USA (and possibly the world).
  • Samuel Adams directed the Boston Tea Party.
  • Larry Silverman of Ballston Lake, NY, achieved his 3rd-degree black belt in karate.

Age 60

  • Playwright and essayist George Bernard Shaw completed a play, “Heartbreak House,” regarded by some as his masterpiece.
  • Italian sculptor, painter, playwright, draftsman and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini began designing churches.

Age 70

  • Judy Brenner, who had recently run the Boston Marathon, chased a teenage shoplifter 100 feet and helped hold him until police arrived.
  • Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence.
  • French actress Sarah Bernhardt had a leg amputated but refused to abandon the stage.
Keys To Community: Ben Franklin in morning light

Benjamin Franklin was 70 when he helped draft the Declaration of Independence

Age 80

  • Jessica Tandy became the oldest Oscar recipient for her work in Driving Miss Daisy.
  • George Burns became the second oldest Oscar recipient for his work in The Sunshine Boys.
  • American writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes published “Over the Teacups,” which displayed his characteristic vitality and wit.
  • Christine Brown of Laguna Hills, California flew to China and climbed the Great Wall.

Age 90

  • Chagall became the first living artist to be exhibited at the Louvre museum.
  • Pablo Picasso was still producing drawings and engravings.
  • Chemist Paul Walden was still giving chemistry lectures.

Age 100+

  • Alice Porlock of Great Britain published her first book, Portrait of My Victorian Youth, when she was 102 years old.

Your age

Here is your assignment: Try plugging in your own age at Museum of Conceptual Art to see what other people were doing at that same age.  Then post a comment on the most remarkable one.

Probably the most notable (interesting?) accomplishment of anyone my age (63) was accomplished by Countess Rosa Branicka, a wealthy Polish noble, who performed breast cancer surgery on herself and lived to be 82.

Am I inspired? Well, uhm, maybe I should try kiteboarding.

Creative Commons License photo credit: jepsculpture


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Little House May 26, 2010 at 8:21 am

Thanks for the inspiration! I’m not a prodigy either, so this gives me hope for the future. Maybe I’ll do something amazing at 40 😉 and not worry that I didn’t do it at 20.


Grace May 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hmm–I always wanted to write the Great American Novel, so I keep looking for authors who got a late start.

Right now, Harriet Doerr (“Stones for Ibarra”) is my muse–she published her first book in her ’80’s!


joeplemon May 26, 2010 at 10:55 am

@ Little House,
That’s the spirit! We can’t go back in time, but we can always go forward. Keep me posted on what amazing things you do!

@ Grace,
Sign me up for your Great American Novel! Harriet Doerr is an inspiration for both of us.


Jason @ Redeeming Riches May 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Well, here’s what came up that jumped out at me:

“Jesus of Nazareth, a moral teacher and faith healer, was executed and eventually became the most renowned religious figure in history”

We know that he wasn’t just a moral teach or a faith healer, but was the God-man, the Savior of the world! Made me stop and think about how great He is!Thanks Joe!


joeplemon May 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Wow! Aren’t we glad that Jesus was not simply a moral teacher and faith healer! Yes, He is indeed the Savior of the world – and of Joe Plemon!


Arthur @ May 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm

George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship.

If I could knock out the last of my debt and get off of Baby step 2….


joeplemon May 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Haha. Get George Foreman on your team and no telling what you could knock out!

Your baby step 2 may be in the 10th round, but it WILL happen!


Roshawn @ Watson Inc May 26, 2010 at 9:37 pm

How motivational!!! Thanks so much for preparing this one. I love that there are plenty of people on your list who had been written off as failures. This goes to show that people can have significant successes even when they are elderly or very young. You just removed a lot of excuses. I’ll certainly bookmark this one for a “rainy-day.”


joeplemon May 27, 2010 at 8:07 am

All who commented are inspired (not depressed) by these accomplishments. I think it is because these readers have developed a resilient mindset of looking forward without lamenting the past.

When that rainy day comes, maybe you can complete your homework assignment and let us know what remarkable accomplishment someone achieved at YOUR age?


Jackie May 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Neat site 🙂

The most inspirational thing for my age was: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the oldest NBA regular player.

(And I get inspired by accomplishments done at any age.)


Austin June 1, 2010 at 8:01 am

At 23 Truman Capote published his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.

I guess I shouldn’t consider a 1,000 word blog post I huge accomplishment 😉

Thanks for the inspiration to get out there and do something positive, Joe.

Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances


joeplemon June 1, 2010 at 8:29 am

I remember well when Kareem was not Kareem, but Lew Alcinder…his college days. I am glad to hear you can be inspired by accomplishments at any age. Me too!

In my mind, you are WAY ahead of the game! Stay inspired, my friend. There is no limit to where God may lead you.


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