4 Famous Historical Figures (Who Were Doin' It Nonstop)
Casanova. Lord Byron. Wilt Chamberlain. History is full of people as famous for boning down as they are for their other accomplishments. But sometimes a person's deeds are so impressive, so crucial to the history books, that the screwing they should also be known for gets completely overlooked. We, at least, are here to acknowledge them.
If H.G. Wells Actually Had A Time Machine He Would Have Just Used It For Sex
H.G. Wells gave the world influential classics like The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The Popular Sci-Fi Concept. He also looked like a stentorian walrus. Between that and his prodigious output his sex life probably isn't the first subject that comes to mind, but whenever he didn't have his pen in hand he had his penis in someone else's.
Wells' romantic life began with an 1891 marriage to his cousin, who he ditched three years later for one of his students. While they remained married until her 1927 death, Wells had what one of several books dedicated to his bedroom dubbed "a roving eye and unquenchable lust." He often had several affairs on the go, and in 1909 he hooked up with Amber Reeves, the daughter of friends. Reeves was just 22, which didn't stop the 43-year-old Wells from knocking her up in the same year he helped her find a husband. Wells claimed that Reeves indulged his "sexual imaginativeness" that his wife supposedly saw as a "constitutional disease" -- at one point they got busy in a church, then had round two in the bushes outside.
Reeves told anyone who would listen about the affair and, when a writer friend criticized it, Wells' responded by writing her into a novel as a manipulative prude. But aside from literary zingers Wells wanted to keep the whole thing hushed, and didn't acknowledge his daughter until she was 20. And at that point he'd carved so many notches in his bedpost it's a wonder the whole thing hadn't collapsed.
In 1920 he began a sporadic romance with birth control advocate Margaret Sanger that would last the rest of his life. Sanger founded what would become Planned Parenthood, a service Wells could have used in 1914 when he impregnated Rebecca West, an author 26 years his junior and who came to Wells' attention when she wrote a scathing review of his novel Marriage, because "write what you know" is optional advice. Their 10-year affair culminated in West moving closer to Wells while he was still married.
In 1933, Wells resumed a romance with Moura Budberg that had begun in 1920, when Budberg was a Countess but was busy cheating on her husband with Maxim Gorky. Budberg eventually left both the marriage and the Soviet Union, settling in London to become Wells' last true love. She was also probably using his impressive social connections for her work as a Soviet spy, but while she rejected Wells' repeated marriage proposals and showed him about as much faith as he had showed his lovers, she did take care of him during his final days.
Those are just a few of the highlights, but if you need more details Wells himself wrote about his sexual conquests, right up until a "last flare of cheerful sensuality" with sex workers when he was a sickly 74-year-old. Wells called regular sex "as necessary as fresh air" to his work, and while he confessed that he "preyed on people who loved me" he also bragged about doin' it atop a bad review before burning it, so his feelings could be called mixed. Either way, he was horny until the end, at one point walking across London to meet a lover we're told commented "at his age, by the time he had walked there, I don't know why he bothered."
Wernher Von Braun Spent As Much Time In Bed As He Did Building Rockets
Wernher von Braun, America's number one pick in the 1945 Nazi Scientist Draft, helped put the United States in space despite the incredible obstacle of no longer having access to brutalized slave labor. While he's remembered as someone who profited under Naziism by helping Hitler fire big ol' rockets at Allied countries, and as someone who contributed enough to American science to awkwardly paper over that first part, during the Weimar Republic's horniest years he was just another young man taking advantage of Berlin's wild nightlife.
"Rocket scientist" probably makes you picture a stuffy old professor, but as a student von Braun had a reputation as a charismatic ladies' man, often strutting around with two girlfriends at once. He carried this image with him to Peenemunde, where the V2 was developed. "The Doctor," as he was called there, was seen as a sex symbol by the installation's secretarial pool, which he boned his way through. He owned a sailboat, the rumor went that he was rarely alone on it, and it changes the image of rockets falling on England and Belgium once you get a picture in your head of their chief architect running around in a swimsuit trying to find protection. Even the first V2 was horny -- inspired by the 1929 film Woman in the Moon, it had a tail painting of a naked woman astride the moon.
In 1943, von Braun really Reiched up his philandering, and that's never a great verb. When visiting France to supervise launch sites he had a fling with a Parisian woman that was public enough for her to spend a year in jail for collaboration after the war. In 1963 she was destitute and desperate enough to send him a letter, calling him her "joy and misfortunate" and claiming that "for twenty years scarcely a day has gone by without you being the object of my secret thoughts." That's right, von Braun pounded so well that he was fondly remembered two decades later by someone who spent a year in jail for doing him. She also asked von Braun for help getting out of poverty, but was apparently ignored.
The end of the war did, however, also end von Braun's playboy lifestyle. He became a devout Christian, had a long and faithful marriage, and even contributed to Alabama's civil rights movement. We have no idea how you balance the scales on that one -- von Braun's legacy is complicated and well beyond our reckoning. We're just here to say that when your dad is watching World War II documentaries you can point at von Braun and say, "Just so you know, he probably has a huge erection in this clip."
Marie Curie Had One Affair That Produced Two Duels
Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize thanks to her ground-breaking work on radiation and getting radiation poisoning. Her personal life was initially unremarkable: she worked in Pierre Curie's lab, they hit it off, and they had a loving marriage fuelled by their mutual pursuit of knowledge. Then in 1906 Pierre slipped while crossing the street and had his head crushed by a horse-drawn cart, abruptly leaving Curie a 39-year-old widow.
Curie threw herself into her work and set several milestones for women. But a gal has needs and, in 1910, Curie began knocking boots with physicist Paul Langevin. Who happened to be a married father of four. They rented an apartment for their trysts, but Langevin's wife intercepted Curie's love letters and leaked them to conservative papers that had a field day with the foreign, antiwar Curie's desire for Langevin to divorce his wife and shack up with her. Curie was painted as a slatternly seductress, and when she won her second Nobel Prize in the middle of this she was encouraged to skip the ceremony.
Curie said to hell with that, arguing that her personal life had nothing to do with her research, and Albert Einstein came to her defense by, uh, saying that she wasn't attractive enough to be a serious threat to a marriage. (What a pal!) At the scandal's peak, Langevin's wife threatened murder and an angry mob formed outside of Curie's home, perhaps driven by baseless rumours that she had begun the affair while Pierre was still alive or that she was, horror of all horrors, secretly Jewish and therefore unfit to be considered French (as awful as TMZ is, at least anti-Semitism isn't the cherry put on top of celebrity scandals anymore).
Meanwhile, Langevin felt honor-bound to challenge the journalist who broke the story to a duel, although they stood down when the writer refused to fire on a great scientific mind and Langevin declined to gun him down in cold blood. A second duel was fought between rival newspaper editors over the merits of their coverage, which ended with a sword injury, because back then the media had integrity, dammit.
Langevin's marriage somehow survived, although he failed to learn any lessons and later knocked up his secretary. Curie refocused on her research and, if she had any more affairs, she was smart enough to not write anything down.
Related: The 5 Most Insane Duels Ever Fought
Puccini's Sex Life Created A Scandal Fit For One Of His Operas
We all know there's a huge overlap between fans of Cracked and fans of fin de siecle opera, but even if you'd rather die than listen to three hours of warbling Italians you've heard pieces by Giacomo Puccini. His work has appeared in It's A Wonderful Life, Quantum of Solace, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Rocky Balboa, and even goddamn Bend it Like Beckham, among many more movies. Sometimes his plots are borrowed too; Fatal Attraction was inspired by Madama Butterfly. Puccini lived at a time when being good at opera made you like Ryan Gosling, but his uncontrollable dong took him to some strange, dark places.
In 1884, 26-year-old Puccini was contacted by his old friend Narciso Gemignani about teaching his wife piano. Puccini promptly began doing much more than teach, as Elvira Gemignani was unhappy with her husband's blatant unfaithfulness. In 1886, a pregnant Elvira took her six-year-old daughter, moved in with Puccini, and bore him a son. But 1880s Italy wasn't big on blended families, and the relationship was seen as scandalous and illegitimate until 1903 when, conveniently, Narciso was killed by the husband of one of his many lovers.
That left Puccini free to marry Elvira, but he was also busy hooking up with Corinna, a student two decades younger than him. He bought Corinna a house and may have been thinking about marriage, but friends convinced him to stick with Elvira. So instead he hired a private detective who revealed that Corinna had other lovers and, in a classic example of the pot calling the kettle horny, Puccini dubbed Corinna "a shit" who lived in "an abyss of depravity and prostitution." Corinna responded with a threat to take their affair public, a private legal battle ensued, and Puccini lucked out when Corinna's father was convicted of harassing and exposing himself to a minor, ruining the family's credibility.
A chastened Puccini promptly began cheating on Elvira with a series of singers, and in 1909 a paranoid Elvira accused Doria Manfredi, one of their maids, of being among his lovers. Doria denied everything, but Elvira's repeated public abuse drove Doria to suicide. An autopsy revealed that she'd died a virgin, Elvira faced prison time, and only a substantial payment from Puccini to Doria's family quieted the affair. If Elvira had been a better investigator, she would have determined that her husband was actually sleeping with Giulia Manfredi, Doria's cousin. That affair lasted until Puccini's 1924 death, producing a son in the process. And the sex that let them gloss over cousin suicide must have been, uh, something.