Famous Dyslexics

Created with Sketch.

Being dyslexic affects around 1 in 10 people yet it's easy to believe you are alone, you are not.

In fact many successful and famous people are also dyslexic. In fact research has found that when it comes to UK entrepreneurs around 20% are dyslexic, so you’re in good company!

See below for some famous dyslexics you might have heard of before.

Famous dyslexic: Sir Steve Redgrave

“Dyslexia was an embarrassment at school. At ten, I still had problems reading and writing. And children can be cruel when they discover that you are different. I did the same subjects as everyone else but found it hard to keep up, and always knew I wasn’t going to pass my 11-plus. Yet because I was big and strong I was never picked on. Rather than take the mickey, people would try to help me, so I was able to get by reasonably well.”

“The headmistress at the school – only a minute or two from where I live now – gave me private reading lessons in her office. And I was allowed to abandon French to do extra English. Still, at times, even now I see letters upside-down or back-to-front.”

“It’s difficult for people who can read to understand how frustrating it is. It doesn’t mean you lack intellect. Quite the reverse. Agatha Christie and Leonardo da Vinci were dyslexic.”

There’s no reason why dyslexics can’t read. It just takes them four or five times longer than everyone else.

Famous dyslexic: Tom Cruise

“Being dyslexic, I had to train myself to focus my attention. I became very visual and learned how to create mental images in order to comprehend what I read.”

Tom spent his younger years trying to hide his dyslexia. He was diagnosed at seven years old, he described himself as a “functional illiterate”. At the time Tom could hardly read in school or through his earliest roles.

He got his first full acting job at the age of 19. As his love of acting developed, Tom recognised that his dyslexia would hold him back if he didn’t work hard at it.

“I had to train myself to focus my attention. I became very visual and learned how to create mental images in order to comprehend what I read,” said Tom.

Famous dyslexic: Whoopi Goldberg

“When I was a kid they didn’t call it dyslexia. They called it… you know, you were slow or retarded or whatever.”

Fortunately Whoopi and her mum knew that those names where false and she was actually dealing with something that had not yet been named.

Whoopi dropped out of school early at 17, as an adult she found that her difficulties learning were due to dyslexia. She gained help from a tutor and developed the skills and confidence to thrive.

Famous dyslexic: Agatha Christie

“Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was… an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so.”

Agatha Christie published more than 70 books over a career of more than fifty years. Her work in the literary and theatre are huge, Agatha continues to inspire “want to be detectives” all over the world as they delve into her twisted stories.


Famous dyslexic: Richard Branson

“My dyslexia has given me a massive advantage in life. It has helped me to think creatively and laterally, and to simplify things, which has been a huge asset when building our Virgin businesses.” 

“However, I know how difficult school can be for a dyslexic student. I was branded lazy and stupid because I couldn’t understand what was on the blackboard – it was a jumble to me. While there is a better understanding of dyslexia than when I was at school, I’m often told stories about children who are still struggling now.”

Famous dyslexic: Orlando Bloom

“I fell in love with drama at school, where I struggled with other lessons because of my dyslexia.”

“I was an angry child at times. I was frustrated with the learning disability. It makes you feel stupid; you just don’t feel smart. Somewhere in me I knew that I was smart, I knew I wasn’t thick, but I was just really struggling with spelling and writing”

Orlando Bloom is perhaps best known for playing Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Famous dyslexic: Jamie Oliver

“It was with great regret that I didn’t do better at school. People just thought I was thick. It was a struggle. I never really understood dyslexia and who could bring out my strengths.”

Famous dyslexic: Cher

“I never read in school. I got really bad grades – Ds and Fs and Cs in some classes and As and Bs in other classes. In the second week of the 11th grade I just quit. When I was in school it was really difficult. Almost everything I learned I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said I was not living up to my potential.”


Famous dyslexic: Bill Gates

Bill Gates, one of the richest people in the world didn’t let his dyslexia hold him back.

“I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.”


Famous dyslexic: Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg  says that it takes him twice as long as anyone else to read a book or script, but he uses the extra time to look for things to appreciate as he lingers over the words.

“You are not alone, and while you will have dyslexia for the rest of your life, you can dart between the raindrops to get where you want to go. It will not hold you back.”

About Alyson and Access Success​

I am a specialist teacher and assessor recognised by the Professional Association of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (PATOSS) and the British Dyslexia Association.

Access Success aims to provide discreet and efficient assessment for specific learning difficulties including dyslexia. Covering the south west area throughout Somerset and Devon, Alyson is always on hand to help. If you would like more information or an informal chat about your requirements or for those of a child then please contact Alyson here. 

All information discussed will be treated as private and confidential.