Richard Branson
British billionaire, entrepreneur and business magnate Richard Branson has dyslexia, and went through a very difficult time in school. Image Credit: AFP

You have likely heard it often: “If at once you don’t succeed, try again.” But did you know several famous people around the world are living proof of this adage?

Click start to play today’s Spell It, to learn about people who were ‘able’ to overcome great misfortunes.

Here are a few worth knowing about:

1. Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The German-born theoretical physicist was frequently underestimated and misunderstood in his childhood. He did not speak for the first three years of his life, and throughout his initial years in school, his teachers presumed he was lazy and sloppy, and wouldn’t make anything of himself. Although he received good grades, he was always daydreaming, and thinking of abstract questions that people couldn’t follow. Little did they know that he would grow up to become one of the most revered scientists the world had ever seen.

2. Richard Branson

Another person who didn’t breeze through school is UK-based billionaire Branson. Because of dyslexia – a learning disorder that involves difficulties in reading and identifying speech sounds – school was a nightmare for him. He always scored abysmally on standardised tests. However, Branson didn’t give up – he used his personality and business acumen to start a mail-order record business, and then a chain of record stores called Virgin Records. With megastores, an airline and a music label under his belt, Branson is now the fourth richest person in the UK.

3. Oprah Winfrey

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American talk show host Oprah Winfrey

The American talk show host, author and producer is one of the best-known faces on TV. But Winfrey didn’t always have it so easy. Growing up in Milwaukee, US, she was repeatedly molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend. She eventually ran away from home, and at age 14, gave birth to a baby boy, who died shortly after. Despite her tragic past, Winfrey became a force to be reckoned with. Her high school records are evidence that she excelled as an honours student, and she even won an oratory contest, which won her a full scholarship to college. Now, Winfrey has a net worth of over $2.9 billion (Dh10.65 billion)!

4. Stephen King

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American author Stephen King

If it weren’t for King’s wife, Tabitha, one of his most famous novels would never have existed. His book, Carrie, received 30 rejections from publishers. One of them wrote: “We are not interested in science fiction, which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” King was so frustrated, he gave up and threw his book in the trash. His wife later retrieved the manuscript and convinced King to finish it. So, he decided to try one more time – and met with incredible success. His first novel sold four million copies in paperback. Over the years, over 350 million copies of his books have been sold, with many made into major motion pictures.

What do you think of these celebrities who overcame tough times? Play today’s Spell It and let us know at