This book reveals the dramatic stories of twenty outstandingly gifted people as they grew from early promise to maturity in Britain. Recorded over the last thirty-five years by award-winning psychologist, Joan Freeman, these fascinating accounts reveal the frustrations and triumphs of her participants, and investigates why some fell by the wayside whilst others reached fame and fortune.

These exceptional people possess a range of intellectual, social and emotional gifts in fields such as mathematics, the arts, music and spirituality. Through their particular abilities, they were often confronted with extra emotional challenges, such as over-anxious and pushy parents, teacher put-downs, social trip-wires, boredom and bullying in school and conflicting life choices. Their stories illustrate how seemingly innocuous events could have devastating life-long consequences, and confront the reader with intriguing questions such as: Does having a brilliant mind help when you are ethnically different or suffering serious depression? How does a world-class pianist cope when repetitive strain injury strikes, or a young financier when he hits his first million? What is the emotional impact of grade-skipping?

Joan Freeman’s insights into the twists and turns of these lives are fascinating and deeply moving. She shows us that while fate has a part to play, so does a personal outlook which can see and grab a fleeting chance, overcome great odds, and put in the necessary hard work to lift childhood prodigy to greatness. Readers will identify with many of the intriguing aspects of these people’s lives, and perhaps learn something about themselves too.

chapter |11 pages


part |3 pages

PART 1 Too many gifts

chapter |26 pages

1 Maths prodigy to saint

chapter |19 pages

2 Spoilt for choice

chapter |20 pages

3 Stark odds

part |2 pages

PART 2 A dominant gift

chapter |17 pages

4 Opera star

chapter |15 pages

6 A good samaritan

chapter |18 pages

7 The gift of integrity

chapter |30 pages

8 Musical chairs

part |3 pages

PART 3 Special challenges to gifted potential

chapter |14 pages

9 The label of ‘gifted'

chapter |16 pages

10 Barriers in the mind

chapter |27 pages

11 A gifted gambler

chapter |25 pages

12 Gifted women

part |22 pages

PART 4 Beyond gifts and talents …

chapter |20 pages

13 Genius