Michael Faraday is proof positive that dedication and perseverance pay off.
Faraday — physicist, chemist, and founder of the UK Royal Institution’s famous Christmas science lectures — was only educated until the age of 13. He left school to help support his family, working as a book delivery boy, before earning a book binding apprenticeship.
An inquisitive lad, he read the books he bound, taking a particular interest in the science titles. Inspired by the subject, he began conducting his own amateur experiments, as well as attending talks at the Royal Institution and taking notes. So extensive were the notes, that he bound them, and often gifted copies to the speakers, such as chemist Humphry Davy.
Impressed with Faraday’s book, Davy invited him for a meeting. A few weeks later, when Davy’s laboratory assistant was fired (we’re reliably informed that fisticuffs were involved), Faraday was given the job. He was 21 years old.
Inside the walls of the Royal Institution, Faraday’s inquisitiveness and experimentation flourished. He worked there for 54 years until his death in 1867, rising to Professor of Chemistry, and gaining honorary doctorates from Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Along the way he discovered electromagnetic rotations (the principle behind the electric motor), was the first scientist to liquefy a gas (chlorine), and discovered the chemical compound benzene, among many other achievements.
Michael Faraday is regarded as an inspiration for revolutions in physics beyond his time.