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 due to avoidant personality disorder. A recluse can also be considered as a loner.
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 US states (e.g., Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska) often harbor 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.
- Joan Armatrading, Singer.
- 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 1970s 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, Majorca 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.
- John Drew Barrymore, American actor and father of famous actress Drew Barrymore.
- Malin Berggren, former lead singer of Ace of Base. Her reclusive behavior that started in 1997 may be attributed to "Strange Ways", a song written by her.
- 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.
- Marlon Brando, Academy Award-winning actor, described as very reclusive - especially after his son murdered his daughter's boyfriend, and his daughter committed suicide five years later.
- Tod Browning, American film 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
- Kate Bush, an English singer, songwriter.
- Octavia E. Butler, African-American science fiction author. Was self-described hermit.
- Henry Cavendish, British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen.
- Johnny Carson, legendary talk show host and comedian.
- Jack Chick, Christian fundamentalist comic book publisher. Has given only one interview since 1975 and has not allowed a photograph to be taken.
- Julie Christie, Academy Award-winning actress.
- John Maxwell Coetzee, South-African Literature Nobel Prize winner and two time Booker award winner.
- Christopher Collet, former child star. Has not acted since 2000; whereabouts unknown.
- The Collyer brothers, compulsive hoarders whose habits were only known after they were both found dead in their home.
- Matthew Corbett, did not appear in public at all between 1998 and 2008, rumoured to have isolated himself for several years. In January 2008, he presented Locks and Quays on I.T.V. and commented on Sooty's 60th birthday on 19th July 2008
- Joan Crawford, Academy Award-winning actress.
- Henry Darger, American writer, who created a 15,143-page illustrated book discovered only after his death.
- Richard Dawson, actor and game show host.
- Doris Day, actress and singer.
- 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.
- Réjean Ducharme, Quebec poet and playwright.
- Doris Duke, socialite and philanthropist.
- Deanna Durbin, actress and singer.
- 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.
- Agnetha Fältskog, singer (from ABBA).
- Lujan Fernandez, 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 had reportedly terminated friendships with people who gave out his contact information.
- Brenda Frazier, socialite.
- Greta Garbo, actress, finished her life as a recluse in New York City, refusing interviews or photographs.
- João Gilberto, 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, singer/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. Has directed no films since 1991, given few interviews since 1994 and lives in rural Wisconsin.
- Michael Jackson, singer and dancer, rarely gives interviews and lives a very reclusive life style.
- 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.
- Maynard James Keenan, frontman for Tool.
- The band Kraftwerk, influental German electronic music group. The band's almost yearly output of music during the 1970s 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."
- Stanley Kubrick, director. 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.
- Ronnie Lee, founder of the Animal Liberation Front. Refuses to have his picture taken.
- 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.
- 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. Rarely seen in person. Lives in Santa Monica, CA. Is rumored to have inherited a fortune from his great-uncle, a British shipping magnate.
- Cormac McCarthy, author.
- Beverlee McKinsey, actress.
- 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, singer/former frontman of The Smiths.
- Fred Neil, singer/songwriter,
- 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, Spanish billionaire.
- Bettie Page, American softcore S&M pin-up model who was at the peak of her popularity during the 1950s. She withdrew from public life during the 1960s, rarely granting interviews and refusing to be photographed.
- Grigori Perelman, Russian mathematician, winner of the Fields Medal.
- Mary Pickford, pioneering actress and producer.
- Prince, singer/songwriter/producer.
- Christopher Pike (author), bestselling author of young adult and children's fiction.
- Marcel Proust, French author of In Search of Lost Time. In his later years did most of his writing from his bedroom, rarely going out except at night to parties.
- 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.
- 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 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. Became increasingly reclusive in the last years of his life, after his retirement in 2002.
- 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.
- Michael Schoeffling, actor, best known for his role as Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles. After quitting the film business, he has disappeared from public view. He was nicknamed by GQ magazine " The Salinger of actors/male models ".
- Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, English-Parsi composer-pianist.
- Masamune Shirow, manga artist/writer. Never allows photographs of himself to be published.
- Layne Staley, Late lead singer of Alice In Chains; went into seclusion as a result of his drug, heroin in particular, addiction.
- Owsley Stanley, Sound engineer for The Grateful Dead and Psychedelic guru of LSD in the 60's.
- Danielle Steel, writer. Rarely gives interviews or public appearances out of desire to protect her family.
- Sly Stone, musician/founder of Sly & the Family Stone. Made little public appearances and did little recording from 1987-2007.
- Adolfo Suarez, Former Spanish prime minister. He has been rarely seen in the last years, between rumours of alzheimer.
- 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.
- Christopher Tolkien, who reportedly lives in an undisclosed location in France.
- Rosemary Tonks, British poet. Converted to fundamentalist Christianity in early 1970s and has not been seen or heard from since, although it is believed she is still alive.
- 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".
- Stu Ungar, Professional Poker player, he was rarely seen in the last years of his life, becoming the subject of many urban legends about his addiction and lifestyle.
- Tom Verlaine, Former guitarist 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, 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.
- Scott Walker, musician.
- Ibn Warraq, Islamic apostate, author of several books on leaving Islam
- 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.
- Donna Wilkes, actress best known for sitcom Hello Larry and film Angel. Has not acted since 1991; whereabouts unknown.
- Brian Wilson, singer and songwriter for The Beach Boys.