This article is from the Celibacy FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (ML Poulter) with numerous contributions by others.
The Pope... okay, I'm not going to mention the religious ones.
Stephen Fry, the British actor, comedian, writer, critic, novelist
and taxi driver, was the UK's most prominent and vocal celibate for
several years, although he has since rediscovered the alleged joys of
Isaac Newton, the mathematician and scientist (said by some to be
the greatest scientist ever), was a virgin all his life. He was also very
unpopular. Let us move on.
Cliff "no soul" Richard, purveyor of family-acceptable and totally
non-threatening pop tunes, is one of the most vocal celibates of modern
times. It may well be this fact which has held back the cause of open
Cosmopolitan agony aunt Irma Kurtz has been a celibate for years
and years with no regrets. Perhaps a Cosmo reader can fill me in with some
Simone Weil was one of the best known European political thinkers
of the 20th Century and, as far as anybody knows, a lifelong celibate.
Also rumoured to be a lifelong celibate was the Dutch philosopher and
theologian Baruch Spinoza.
Dr. Temple Grandin, the American academic whose empathy with
animals has led to her being a highly successful designer of humane animal
management systems, is a voluntary celibate. The reasons are too complex
to go into here, but those interested can read the final chapter of Oliver
Sacks' "An Anthropologist on Mars".
Stevie Smith, poet and novelist, was celibate all her life, after
sampling and rejecting romance and sex in her youth. She was fiercely
critical of those who thought that her life must be emotionally
impoverished by not having sexual relationships anymore, emphasizing
the depth of her friendships, especially her bond with the aunt with
whom she lived.
Pitt the Younger, legendary British Prime Minister, is generally
agreed by historians to have died a virgin.
Nikolai Tesla, who developed the system of alternating electrical
current that is the standard nowadays worldwide, was a self-proclaimed
Carole Channing, the Broadway musical star of "Hello Dolly" fame
was celibate in her marriage to Charles Lowe for 41 years.
Morrissey, the British singer and former member of the Smiths, was
openly celibate for several years.
G. H. Hardy, twentieth century English mathematician who made ample
contributions in number theory and who co-authored the famous
Hardy-Weinberg law of population genetics. He was also the mentor of
legendary prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan (who was probably also a life-long
Paul Erdos, the most prolific mathematician in history, having
participated in more then 20,000 papers. He was born in Hungary but
never held a home or a job, relying instead on the hospitality of other
mathematicians with whom he collaborated and on the money he received
for conferences. See _The Man Who Loved Only Numbers_, by Paul Hoffman
Antonio Gaudi, the spanish architect most famous for the Segrada
Familia in Barcelona, is said to never have had sex.
Alan Christie Wilson of the blues-rock group Canned Heat was a
voluntary celibate in the later part of his life, according to his
authorised biographer Krisna Radha. The reasons seem to be a mix of
medical, spiritual and issues from childhood.
"Divorced novelist Beryl Bainbridge revealed that she gave up men
because, when she was 56, she felt having a physical relationship with a
man was 'no longer dignified', and anyway her life was far too full of
other things like writing, children and friends." - quote from a Daily
Mail article by Jenny Nisbet (approx.) 1st December 1998.