The death of your father forces you to work harder on many levels, out of necessity and at a younger age then children with fathers– especially if you are male. Many Highly Creative men lost their fathers at a young age. Thomas Jefferson’s father, for example, died just as he entered adolescence; so did the fathers of Leo Tolstoy and Johann Sebastian Bach. But historically, fathers have been crucial for the Creative development of their daughters.
For Highly Creative women of the past, fathers often functioned as mentors by supporting, encouraging and challenging their bright daughters. These men went beyond providing for their daughter’s physical and emotional needs. They inspired, opened intellectual doors and showed their girls the path to Creativity.
The nineteenth century French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Sophie Germain often hid under her mathematician father’s desk while he discussed cutting edge problems with his mathematician friends. At night she tiptoed down to her father’s library, after her parents went to bed, to read his books by candlelight. Eventually, she convinced her father to teach her all he knew, against her mother’s wishes. With his help Sophie entered the world of formal mathematics and corresponded with famous mathematicians such as Lagrange, Legendre, and Gauss. Germain identified with her father and with his guidance surpassed his achievements.
The Creator of the first picture books for children featuring talking animals, Beatrix Potter, inherited an eye for the beautiful from her artistic father. As a child her father loved to draw, but his family forbade him to pursue his love of art as a carrier and he became a barrister instead. He never went back to his first passion–art, but when he perceived his daughter’s interest in sketching, he got her the perfect tool–colored pencils.
Eleanor Roosevelt worked Creatively as a humanitarian well into her seventies. Although her father died young and was not well accepted by her mother’s family, Roosevelt idolized him as her hero. He traveled the world before he died, and came home to tell his young daughter exciting stories of exotic places. He provided for her, glimpses into others worlds. He promised her he’d take her with him next time, but never did. All he left her with was loving memories and dreams potent enough to inspire her life’s work. Eventually, Roosevelt traveled the world herself, as a political and humanitarian world leader and after World War II helped found the United Nations, an international organization created to facilitate cooperation in social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace.
Highly Creative women of the past often had fathers who dropped gendered expectations and interacted with them in deeply inspiring ways. And the girls knew their fathers were proud of their achievements, rather then threatened by them.