Two things strike you when you spend time among the dead. The first is just how many of them there are (about 90 billion humans have lived and died over the past 100,000 years). The second is how similar were the challenges they each faced -- and how staggeringly varied and resourceful the responses. The more lives we collected for "The Book of the Dead," the more we started to notice patterns forming. The result was a wall covered in lists of people organized by category. But instead of the usual biographical divisions -- politicians, musicians, artists, etc. -- we decided to choose groupings that focused on how all of us (not just those who feature in school textbooks) live our lives: our relationships to our parents, our illnesses, attitudes to work, culinary and sexual appetites, and our sense (if any) of what it all means.
So, here's our eclectic selection of some of the most successful, happiest, saddest and maddest men and women in history. Many are world famous, others almost completely forgotten: the only criteria for inclusion were that they be both dead -- and interesting.
We hope their struggles will inspire you, or at the very least offer you some comfort from knowing your life is nowhere near as bad as it could be.
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