One of the Fruitlands' hyper-vegan beliefs was that manure was also off-limits (because horseshit belonged to the horses, I guess). As a result, all of their crops failed. Once the winter rolled in, adding an unbearable Boston cold to their already-craptastic lives (again, they bathed in and drank only cold water), Louisa May's mom called it quits and hauled ass to a rental farm, taking her kids with her. When she grew up, Alcott was determined get rich off her writing. And yeah, it's kind of hard to blame her.
Charlie Chaplin Was Dropped Into A Hellscape Of Orphanages And Child Labor
Born in London in the late 1800s to a (probable) former prostitute who was (definitely) slowly going insane with syphilis, legendary screen comedian Charlie Chaplin was pretty much screwed from the start. Both his mother Hannah and his father Charlie Sr. were actors, which already wasn't a great way to make a living back then. When Charlie was two years old, Papa Chaplin split, because he was an asshole.
With no other means to provide for herself or her children, Hannah, Charlie, and his brother Sydney entered into the Lambeth Workhouse, a timeless institution of Old London where homeless and otherwise-destitute folks were exploited for factory labor. And because that wasn't grim enough, parents were also forcibly separated from their children, which hopefully I don't have to remind you is bad and/or evil.
But wait, things get worse! Soon enough, Hannah was committed to an asylum for the aforementioned syphilitic insanity, and Charlie and Sydney were sent to an 1800s London orphanage, which is exactly as horrible as you're picturing. A seven-year-old Charlie was viciously caned, caught ringworm from the terrifically unsanitary conditions, had his head shaved, and was placed in solitary confinement.
At some point, Charlie and Sydney were sent back to the workhouse, which, let's be real, was a lateral move. Eventually his mother was released, the family was reunited, and they all ended up living on the street. For reasons of mental illness and whatever Sydney's excuse was, the onus of earning a living fell on young Charlie, and he took whatever jobs he could to support his family.
There were a litany of said jobs, by the way, because it's hard for a homeless elementary-schooler to hold down a career. In the span of a few years, Charlie was able to add clog dancer, newsboy, printer, toymaker, and the alarmingly vague "doctor's boy" to his resume, among other things, before finally, at the wizened age of 12, getting his first big break as an actor. He started making Hollywood movies at age 25, and then lived happily ever after! Well, until he was banned from the U.S. on suspicion of being a communist.
Eirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series. Find him on Twitter. Or don't. He's not your mom.