Stuttering Didn't Stop Them! Famous People Who Stutter From Around The World

by Alan Badmington (Wales), Anita Scharis Blom (Sweden), Christine Badgett-Richards (England), Warren Brown (New Zealand), Marija Cvetkovic (Croatia), Andrew Harding (England), Margaret M. Leahy (Ireland), Benny Ravid (Israel), Pedro Rodriquez (Venezuela), Konrad Schaefers (Germany), Gina Waggott (England), and Albert Zhang (China)

For this article, you may post comments before October 22 to any or all of authors, or add another famous person who stutters from your country. You can also comment on how this kind of information can be useful for people who stutter.

Meet the presenters for this paper. They are from various countries who have written interesting, short pieces about a famous person who stutters from their country.

Alan Badmington is a former police officer and lifelong stutterer from Wales, UK. Earlier this year, he was one of the eight finalists in the Association of Speakers Clubs UK national public speaking championships. He regularly addresses diverse community organisations in an attempt to increase public awareness about stuttering. He was a keynote speaker at the 7th World Congress for People Who Stutter in Australia in February 2004. Alan has contributed a chapter to John Harrison's book, 'How to conquer your fears of speaking before people'. His work has been frequently reproduced in NSA/BSA publications and on the major stuttering-related websites.
Anita Scharis Blom was born and raised in the Netherlands, but is now married and living in Sweden. She works as a secretary and work on a stuttering project. She states, "I have stuttered since I was 9 and had a troublesome youth, but this helped me to become active at the local chapter, the national board and on European level to help people to feel the world is at their feet."
Christine Badgett-Richards is currently working as a care/support worker at a residential school for children with special needs.and has been working toward a degree in special education. She is originally from St. Louis Missouri, and moved to Bristol, England in April 2002. She is a covert stutterer. She has a keen interest in hedgehogs and wildlife preservation in general. She enjoys watercolour painting, music, photography, interior design and swimming and is especially interested in collecting and researching children's literature, and hopes to write and illustrate a series of children's books in the near future. Chris is co-moderator of StutteringChat and mans the BSA Telephone Helpline once a week.
Warren Brown is a journalist for the Waikato Times, a daily newspaper in Hamilton, New Zealand. As someone who stutters, he has been active in the New Zealand Speak Easy Association for 19 years and has edited the association's quarterly magazine, Air Flow, for nine years. He was elected to the board of the International Stuttering Association last year, where his responsibilities mainly involve the publication of the ISA's biannual newsletter, One Voice.
My name is Marija Cvetkovic, I am 28 years old. I was born and live in Zadar, Croatia, southern Europe. I've been stuttering since I was 3 years old. After grammar school and 3 years of high school, I spent one year in an U.S. high school in the state od New York. I have a bachelors degree in kindergarden teaching but work as an accountant. I am a member of Croatian Stuttering Society since 2001; mostly I am active on our online Forum.
Fernando Cuesta Momblona is a person who stutters. He has over 27 years of experience as a family doctor. He is founding of the GATA (Self-help group of the Asturianšs stutterers), the first self-help group about stuttering in Spain. He is Vice President of TTM-IB (Ibero-American stuttering association). He has written several articles about stuttering and has participated in programs on radio and TV and at conferences and congresses about stuttering working to spread understanding and knowledge of stuttering from a medical perspective. He maintains the section of stuttering and medicine ( on the website of Grupo de Autoayuda de Tartamudos de Asturias (GATA) ( and a blog on medical aspects of the stuttering (
My name is Natasja Dahlmann and I am 20 years old. I am from a town called Kristianstad in the south of Sweden. I stutter since I was about 3-4 years old. I do not stutter that much but sometimes I do hate it. My favourite persons who stutter are Robert Kronberg, Sophie Gustafson and Nicklas Kindwall. I want to become a single mom and hope to have about 3 children.
Dobrinka Georgieva, Ph.D. is a lecturer in logopedics at Southwestern University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. She is Vice-Dean of the faculty of Philosophy and Director of the University Stuttering Research Center. Dobrinka is a published author in Bularian, English, Finnish and French and is also fluent in Russian and has presented internationally. She is a member of the International Fluency Association, the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics, the Bulgarian National Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics and the Greek Association in Neurolinguistics.
Andrew Harding is a staff member of the British Stammering Association where he is part of the information team, helping to answer more than 2500 email and telephone enquiries a year. He produced two booklets for BSA on employment and stammering and edits the quarterly magazine Speaking Out. He also produces the One Voice newsletter for the International Stuttering Association.
Margaret M. Leahy is Director of the School of Clinical Speech & Language Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. She has been working as a researcher/practitioner in the field of stuttering/fluency for 25 years, and for most of that time has also been involved in student therapist education. Since the 1980's, she has presented papers and workshops on PCT and therapy, and has published a number of these. She has also done research on the 'stutterer' stereotype, particularly with regard to student stereotyping. She been involved with the IFA since its foundation, and is currently President of that organisation.
Benny Ravid is a software engineer. He is the chair and founder of AMBI, the Israel Stuttering Association. He is also ISA board member , head of the webmaster group of the ISA website ( and webmaster of AMBI website (
Konrad Schaefers is a person who stutters. He has been an active member of the German Stuttering Association (Bundesvereinigung Stotterer-Selbsthilfe) for more than 20 years, and has worked for them at their office in Koeln for the past 8. Konrad also was one of the founders of ELSA, the European League of Stuttering Associations. He likes music, poetry, and the positive aspects of life in general.
Tobe Richards is a graphic designer, typographer and writer from Bristol in the U.K. He studied exhibition and museum design at college and has written theatre reviews for the German theatre magazine, Das Musical. He enjoys playing the guitar, piano, banjo, bouzouki and other musical instruments. In the 1980's he was the lead vocalist with The Transit Band and has written around 400 songs. Tobe has stuttered from the age of four and has tried various therapies, none of which made an appreciable difference to his fluency. He is married to Chris, who he met through the online support group, Stuttering Chat where they, along with Gina Waggott are co-moderators. Tobe also owns and runs FrettedFriends, the largest multi-fretted instrument interest group on the net, and recently started Cabot Books, a independant publisher of special interest publications.
Pedro R. Rodriguez C. is both a stutterer and a psychologist. He has a Doctorate in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Social Psychology from the Central University of Venezuela where he is a full professor with the Psychology Institute. Since the year 2001 he has been Head of Applied Research Department. He is a member of the Academic Committee for the Open Chair of "Incapacity" at the same University. Since 1978 he has directed research on stuttering and has published books and 25 articles in specialized journals. His most recent publication is his book: "The Stutterers Speak" (2005). He is president of the Latin American Association of Stuttering and Honorary President of the Spanish Foundation of Stuttering. He is also the creator of the web page, "We the stutterers" ( and directs virtual support groups "TTM-L", "I Communicate" and "TTM-Family."
Gina Waggott is a 24 year-old lifelong stutterer from Yorkshire, UK. In 1997 she took her first steps into the worldwide stuttering community with an ambition to help others. Gina is currently an Executive Board Member of the European League of Stuttering Associations (ELSA), where she deals with Youth issues, and has been an active volunteer of the British Stammering Association for eight years. In 2004 she was elected to the board of the European Disability Forum's Youth Committee, where she represents the interests of people who stutter Europe-wide. She has written numerous articles, speeches and workshops relating to stuttering that have been read and heard throughout the world. Gina is the owner of StutteringChat, the world's largest online group for people who stutter. In her elusive spare time she enjoys listening to and creating music, art, writing, and approaching life and cooking with reckless abandon.
Albert Zhang (Zhang Jianliang in Chinese), age 32, has an MBA. He stuttered severely when young and became mild to moderate after 7 years as a salesman. In March 2003, he became the first user of SpeechEasy in China, and 3 months later he began to distribute it in Shanghai. Also, he helped to establish the Shanghai Stuttering Association in July 2003, and attended the 7th World Congress For People Who Stutter which met in Perth, Australia. He was recently appointed editor of One Voice, the newsletter of International Stuttering Association. He loves reading, climbing, playing chess, photographing, and much more. Albert is currently a graduate student at Eastern Carolina University.

For this article, you may post comments before October 22 to any or all of authors, or add another famous person who stutters from your country. You can also comment on how this kind of information can be useful for people who stutter.

Stuttering Didn't Stop Them!

This paper consists of a series of short articles and interviews about several people who stutter who are not from the United States. Some are historical figures and some are current examples of people who stutter who haven't let stuttering interfere with their lives or careers. The short articles feature people who could be considered "Famous People Who Stutter." You can see a long list of other famous people who stutter online at

Sophie Gustafsson - interviewed by Anita S. Blom, Sweden

    Sophie Gustafson from Sweden turned professional golfer in 1992 at the age of 19, and has been very successful internationally. She was voted Waterford Players' Player of the Year for 1998 after winning twice and finishing second on the Order of Merit and also voted Swedish Golfer of the Year 2000 by the Association of Golf Writers in Sweden. Ms. Gustafson graciously responded to the following questions posed to her my Anita Blom.

    Who is Sophie Gustafsson? -- "I was born in Varberg, but have lived in Särö all my life, until I moved to the USA. I have 2 older brothers who play golf every now and then, Ulf and Pär. I went through trade studies in high school and continued to study economics, marketing and commercial law for four years."

    What made you choose golf? -- "In 1983 they started to build a nine hole golf course not far away from our house in Särö so the whole family started to play at the same time."

    What do you do when you don't play golf? -- "Take it easy and hang out with friends."

    How did you and your family react when you started to stutter? -- "I don't know. I have stuttered all my life. I was too little to remember how the people around me reacted. Both my brothers stuttered until they started school and than it stopped. My parents probably thought the same would happen to me."

    Has stuttering affected your life and choice of profession? -- "No. I do what I want to do."

    What have you tried to reduce your stuttering and what was the result? -- "Most things. Stuttering therapy, Hollins Institute in West Virginia, acupuncture, SpeechEasy, FluencyMaster, medications (Zyprexa and Abilify). Hollins was good, but it was hard to apply the therapy in real life. They taught us two techniques we should use and in school it worked extremely well, but when I came out into the real world it was hard to use the techniques. Medication was good, especially Zyprexa, but it made me tired and my golf playing depraved so much I had to stop. As long as I play golf for a living I cannot take my medications. I'll definitely start again when I quit playing golf."

    Who are your role models? -- "Laura Davies (ed. note - Britain's outstanding female golfer) and Severiano Ballesteros" (ed. note - outstanding Spanish golf player).

    What will your life look like in 10 years? -- "Let's wait and see..."

    If you could realize your dream, what would it look like? -- "I would like to live in Sweden six months a year and the other six months in the USA (as my boyfriend is American). Play golf every now and then, but not so much travelling as I do now. Maybe have a farm with animals. To be able to go on vacation without finding it boring to travel."

Zeljko Rohatinski by Marija Cvetkovic, Croatia

    Zeljko Rohatinski was born on August 3, 1951 in Zagreb, Croatia. He has been the Governor of the Croatian National Bank since July 12, 2000. He graduated in 1974, and received his doctor's degree in 1988, both from the Zagreb Faculty of Economics. He started his professional career in 1974 as a trainee in the Republic Bureau of Planning. He was elected general manager of the Bureau in 1989. A year later, in 1990, he was appointed Head of the Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Division, Institute of Economics in Zagreb, which he managed till 1998. After that he became Chief Economist in one of Croatia's biggest banks (Privredna banka Zagreb), which duty he performed til April 2000.

    Mr. Rohatinski has been awarded several international scholarships (among others the Fulbright grant); he has written a number of scholarly papers on economic issues, the book Vremenska dimenzija ekonomske aktivnosti drustva (Time dimension of society's economic activity) and A Road to Low Inflation (as a co-author).

    Zeljko Rohatinski was appointed Governor of the Croatian National Bank on July 12, 2000 pursuant to the decision of the Croatian Parliament No. 021-13/00-07/27. He has been invited many times to talk about the financial issues on the television, and is valued as one of the greatest experts in his field.


Ivo Karlovic by Marija Cvetkovic, Croatia

    Ivo Karlovic was born on February 28, 1979 in Croatian capital city, Zagreb. He is a tennis player and a person who stutters.

    He turned pro in 2000 and had his first big jump on the ATP list during the 2003 Wimbledon Championships. He played his 1st round match against the defending champion Lleyton Hewitt. After losing the first set by 1:6 in just 19 minutes, he made a 1:6, 7:6, 6:3, 6:4 win to everybodyís surprise. Unfortunately, he didnít get near the finals.

    Ivo is the tallest man who has ever played in an ATP event: he is 208 centimeters, or 6 feet 10inches tall!!

    During the year 2004 he made it to the round of sixteen in many tournaments, including Wimbledon where he lost to the future champion Roger Federer. 2005 highlights include Singles Finalist: London / Queen's Club, Surbiton Quarterfinalist: Nottingham, and Doubles Semifinalist: Estoril(w/Carlsen). His current (June 20, 2005) ATP ranking is 61, whereas his highest ranking was 51 (September 2004).

    Ivo is a member of Croatian Davis Cup team, alongside Goran Ivanisevic, Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic.

Gareth Gates - by Gina Waggott (England)

    "I lived through my music because I couldn't speak well," said an 18-year old Gareth Gates when asked about how stuttering had affected his life. Now in his early 20's, Gareth still lives through music as an international star, never letting his speech hold him back.

    The British public took Gareth to their hearts after his participation in "Pop Idol," a talent show format that has since been recreated around the globe. Week by week Gareth sang his way through to the finals of the competition, despite struggling to speak between songs, to the judges, or to the press, who put stuttering on the UK map along with Gareth's increasing fame.

    Since then, Gareth has had a string of hits in Britain and abroad, and continues to speak openly about his speech after his participation in the McGuire Programme. Although he still says he finds some speaking situations a challenge, he will never back down or give up, saying "You shouldn't let it stop you from what you want to do."

    Gareth is currently in the studio recording his third album.

Rowan Atkinson - by Christine Badgett-Richards (England)

    Comedic actor, writer, and producer Rowan Atkinson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England on January 6, 1955. He received advanced degrees in electrical engineering at Newcastle and Oxford Universities before deciding to pursue an acting career.

    Atkinson is probably best known in the U.S. for his role as the trainee priest (who has a mild stammer) in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and for creating and playing the role of Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean is an almost wordless physical comedy (mixed with pathos) whose style has been favourably compared to Charlie Chaplin films in the early 1900's. However, Mr. Bean is a unique creation. He is a largely silent character with an unusual perspective of the world. The comedy is based on his imaginative and seemingly illogical attempts to solve problems, which are usually self-created.

    In the 1980's, Atkinson co-wrote and starred in the television series Blackadder. Set in England during various time periods, from the 1500's to World War One, Blackadder was based almost purely on verbal humour. It was largely through this series that Atkinson became widely recognised as having a gift for verbal comedy.

    Elements of Atkinson's stammering (mainly in the form of silent blocks, slight jaw tremors, tense pauses, and unusual emphasis of certain sounds) are visible in various scenes throughout the Blackadder series. In an interview for BBC Radio, Atkinson discussed his stammering on the set of Blackadder:

    "The thing that sometimes held us up was my stammering, because I do have a natural stammer...some words and some phrases did catch me out...B's in particular were always a problem for me...The 'B' of Battersea was a problem for me...The problem is once you get a mental block about a word you can't say it no matter how many times you do it. 'B's followed by a vowel - extremely difficult."

    An excerpt of this interview can be heard in its entirety via the following link (requires Realplayer) :

    Since stammering (real stammering, as opposed to intentional stammering written into a script) is almost invariably removed through the editing process in television and film, it is perhaps somewhat unusual (and fortuitous) that Atkinson's stammering was not. Atkinson's success with Blackadder, which has won numerous prestigious national and international awards, has been attributed at least in part to his unique verbal delivery style.

    Atkinson is also a co-founder of Comic Relief, a charity whose purpose is to raise money for various projects which help people in Britain and Africa who are economically disadvantaged and/or experiencing social injustice.

Ronny Somek - by Benny Ravid (Israel)

    Ronny Someck is an Israeli poet. He was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1951, and came to Israel as a young child. He has worked with street gangs, taught literature, and currently leads creative writing workshops. Somek is a leading Israeli poet. He began publishing in 1968 at the age of seventeen. He has published 9 volumes of poetry (The last called "The Milk Underground") and a book for children ( "The Laughter Buttom") which he co-authored with his daughter, Shirly.

    He has been translated into 37 languages. Two selections of his poems have appeared in Arabic translation, one in French (with the exile Iraqian poet- A.K. El-Janabi), one in Catalan, one in Albanian, one in Italian and one in English- "The Fire Stays in Red."

    In 1997 he recorded a CD, "Revenge of the Stuttering Child," with musician Elliot Sharp in New York along with two additional disks: "Poverty Line" and "Short History of Vodka." "Revenge of the Stuttering Child, translated from Hebrew by Barbara Goldberg with Moshe Dor is included at the end of this article.

    In 1998, Someck and artist Benny Efrat had a joint exhibition entitled "Nature's Factory, Winter 2046" at the Israel Museum. Someck has received the ACUM Special Jubilee Prize, the Prime Minister's Prize and the Amichai Prize (2004).


    Today I speak in memory of words
    that once stuck in my throat, of teeth grinding
    syllables under my tongue, of powder burns in the gap
    between gullet and darkened lips. Back then
    I dreamed of smuggling out words, like stolen gifts
    in the mouth's storeroom, tearing the wrapping apart
    and pulling out alphabet toys.
    The teacher would lay her hand on my shoulder, tell
    how Moses stuttered too, nonetheless
    he arrived at Mount Sinai. My Sinai was a girl
    who sat at the desk next to mine and I
    with no way to say, no burning bush
    to set before her, no ardent words
    seared with love.

Elizabeth Bowen - by Margaret Leahy (Ireland)

    Elizabeth Bowen: One the great Anglo-Irish writers of the 20th Century

    Elizabeth Bowen (1899 -1973), a writer of genius, was best known for novels and short stories, but was prolific and versatile as a non-fiction writer, and as a distinguished lecturer and broadcaster. Born to Henry and Florence, both descendants of the pseudo-aristocracy or ascendancy in Ireland, Elizabeth's life was privileged, although her childhood was dogged with the difficulties of her father's psychiatric illness, and of her mother's early death, in 1911.

    Elizabeth wrote a history of the Anglo-Irish in her book "Bowen's Court", a history of her home in Cork. She talks of her Irishness in her unfinished autobiography: "If you began in Ireland, Ireland remains the norm: like it or not. I never looked up Sackvill Street without pleasure, for I was told it was the widest street in the world. Just as Pheonix Park...was the largest park in the world.... These superlatives please me only too much: my earliest pride of race was attached to them". (Bowen, 1975).

    Elizabeth attended schools in England, where her talent as a writer was recognized and nurtured. In 1917, her first stories were published in the gazette, Saturday Westminster, later to be reprinted as a collection entitled Encounters in 1923. During this year, Elizabeth married Alan Cameron and their marriage was to last - despite her numerous affairs - until his death in 1952. Although Elizabeth frequently visited her ancestral home in Co Cork, she became immersed in English society, befriending Virginia Woolf and other writers, and publishing several novels. The Last Septembe, her second novel deals with the demise of the "big house" in Ireland, and presents the time with historical detail and impartiality, and a great novelist's characterization. Her other novels of this period Friends and Relations and To the North brought her international recognition. Perhaps her most acclaimed work is her sixth novel, The Death of the Heart (1938), a poignant, coming-of-age story of a young woman.

    The Second World War (1939-1945) reduced Elizabeth's writing output because of her involvement in the war effort. Along with themes of passion and love, her novels are shaped by war, its function and effects. After the war, her work was given due attention: in 1949 she was granted an honorary doctorate of literature from Trinity College, Dublin, and she was invited to lecture in several universities in the United States during the 1950s. She continued to write, to travel, to lecture and to broadcast throughout the 1960s, concluding her major works with the novel "Eva Trout" (1969). She battled with cancer, and died in 1973.

    References to her stutter in her writing are scarce: in the autobiography. She describes how her mother, heartbroken by the decision to move to England when her father had committed himself into psychiatric care, had given her great freedom, and continues: "I was a tough child, strong as a horse - or colt. I had come out of the tensions and mystery of my father's illness, the apprehensive silences or chaotic shoutings.....with nothing more disastrous than a stammer. Not "nervous", I was demonstrative and excitable: an extrovert". Later in the same chapter, Elizabeth talks about a governess, Miss Clark: "I disliked her only when she was sarcastic, or when she picked on me about my stammer, which in her view was due largely to faults of character: over-impatience, self-importance. "You try to get too much out at the same time," she would point out. "Concentrate on one thing, draw a deep breath, they say it slowly."

    Her advice may have worked: Elizabeth's way of managing her stutter did not prevent her success as a prolific writer, broadcaster, and lecturer, (My friend and neighbour, now over 90 years of age, recalls listening to her lecture in Dublin many years ago, and though aware that EB stuttered, her speaking was clear, fluent and voluble).


    Bowen, E. (1986) The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen. Edited by H. Lee. London: Virago.

    Bowen, E. (1975). Pictures and Conversations. In The Mulberry Tree (Ed. H. Lee)

Hu Yaobang - by Albert Zhang (Zhang Jianliang in Chinese) - (China)

    Hu Yaobang was nicknamed the "ninth stutterer" by his father. I don't know why he was so named but in olden times, nine means great, large, or infinite. He was later among the most eloquent speakers in the Communist Party of China (CPC). Formally educated for only 6 years, he was later praised as knowledgeable and wise. He worked for the CPC from the age of 14. His sympathy for the 1986 student demonstrations in China led to his resignation from the CPC in 1987, and his death in 1989 sparked the Tiananmen Square protest for freedom and democracy.

    This was Hu Yaobang, general secretary of CPC 1980-87, and Chairman of CPC 1981-82, one of the most influential leaders after the Cultural Revolution.

    The writer Han Shaogong remembered an interview with Mr. Hu in 1961, when he was already a high leader in China. Mr. Han commented that Mr. Hu's son, Hu Deping, sometimes stuttered. Mr. Hu laughed, and said this was his own fault, for he did not take care of it. He told Mr. Han that after the Long March (The Long March, 1934-1935, saved Mao Zedong and the Communist Party from the attacks by the Guomingdang. The Long March came about when the Chinese Communists had to flee a concerted attack that had been ordered by Chiang Kai-shek), he, together with some other teenagers, emulated stuttering for fun. Soon he really stuttered and could not speak well before Chairman Mao when they met. Mao frowned and asked him to think about his speech content in the corner before his delivery, and speak slowly. Mr. Hu also told Mr. Han that stuttering was merely a psychological phenomenon and would not pass on to next generation. This opinion is still widely accepted among intellectuals in China today.

    Some people who stutter believe Mr. Hu retained some stuttering behaviors even in his old age. They claimed that in his presentations, he would wave his arm exaggeratedly and abruptly to help him speak.

    So there remains some mysteries of Mr. Hu's speech condition. Somebody said he stuttered before he left home to join the Red Army, and became noticed because of his presentation style. Mr. Han said he began to stutter after Long March, when he was about 20, and recovered from it in a short time.

    Which is correct, we don't know now; however, the fact is, stuttering, if it existed, did not impede his career and life.

Graeme Duffin - by Christine Badgett-Richards

    Graeme Duffin (born 28 February 1956) has been a guitarist for the recently reformed Scottish rock band Wet Wet Wet since the band's inception in 1986. Wet Wet Wet are probably best known for their international hit "Love is all Around" (originally written/performed by The Troggs), which was featured on the soundtrack of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

    In an online article by Graeme Smith (dated 23 March 2005) Duffin is quoted as saying "We are basically social animals and we have a real need to feel that we belong, and stammering, if it makes us feel somehow different from everybody else around us, can lead to a real feeling of isolation....I feel the only way forward for adults who suffer chronically from stammering in the long term is to be able to face it head on with dignity and courage. That is very, very difficult if you are trying to do that in isolation." The full text of the article can be found at .

    In an interview with British Stammering Association trustee Eddie Phillips (Speaking Out, Autumn 2004, Page 3) Duffin describes his experience of stammering severely during a radio interview in which he was attempting to discuss his work with Wet Wet Wet :

    "I blocked on every syllable of every word, and they couldn't use the interview. I came out of the studio exhausted, disheartened, embarrassed...two years ago I had an interview there that went really well. That partly reflects my level of confidence in my ability to deal with and enjoy that situation now...." (The full transcript of this interview can be read at ).

    In addition to his role as a guitarist with Wet Wet Wet, Duffin is actively involved in the work of the British Stammering Association Scotland, and is also an instructor/facilitator for the McGuire Programme.

    An article with video clips of Duffin speaking about stammering can be found at:

Matt McCarten - by Warren Brown (New Zealand)

    Politics would seem an unlikely career choice for someone who stutters. But that didn't stop Matt McCarten from making a significant contribution to New Zealand left-wing politics over many years.

    McCarten became president of the NewLabour Party in 1989 after Jim Anderton, a Labour member of Parliament, split with his party over economic policy and formed a new political force. When NewLabour formed an alliance in 1992 with four other small parties, McCarten became president of the Alliance, a party on the centre-left of the political spectrum.

    Ironically, stuttering played a leading role in the Alliance's electoral defeat in 2002. Speaking to the New Zealand Speak Easy Association in May 2002, two months before that year's general election, McCarten said he got into politics in a backroom role. Being a person who stutters, he said he preferred that role because it meant that he wouldn't have to speak out. Anderton had suggested in 2001 that McCarten should do a course of speech therapy at the Stuttering Treatment and Research Trust (START) in Auckland. He wanted McCarten to improve his fluency so he could do more public speaking for the Alliance. McCarten said he knew nothing about START until his party leader told him about it. After finishing the fluency course, he said he felt much more confident about his speech.

    In 2002, he faced a crisis. United States troops were in Afghanistan and New Zealand's Labour-Alliance Government was considering sending Kiwi troops to support them. McCarten and most of his party were opposed to this. Yet Anderton, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time, supported the war on terror. McCarten spoke out - something he admitted he might not have done if he hadn't had treatment for stuttering. When matters came to a head, party members expelled Anderton from his own party. McCarten told Speak Easy members in 2002 that it was kind of ironic that Anderton's act of kindness had contributed to the leader's downfall. At the 2002 election, the Alliance failed to gain enough votes to remain in Parliament. McCarten returned to trade union work in Auckland. Those who want to find out more about McCarten's colourful political career can read his 2002 autobiography Rebel In The Ranks (Random House NZ Ltd, $NZ29.95).

Ludwig Quidde (1858 - 1941) - by Konrad Schaefers

    Ludwig Quidde declared, "I was the worst stutterer I ever heard, and in certain situations my weakness almost drove me mad, as it probably did the people who had to listen to me." Who would think a person recalling his younger days like this would later in his life - still being a person who stutters - make speeches in Parliament and on other public occasions, or preside international congresses in three languages? But this is exactly what Ludwig Quidde did.

    Quidde was professor of history at Berlin University and a Member of the German Parliament, one of the most influential German pacifists of his time and leader of several World Peace Congresses. In 1927 his commitment to the peace movement was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Nazis took over in Germany, Quidde fled to Geneva where he organised a support committee for exiled German pacifists.

    Circa 1925, Quidde published an autobiographical article in one of the major Berlin newspapers. With "Recollections of a Stutterer" he left us a document which is remarkable in more than one respect. Being a person of public interest in those days, he speaks about his stuttering in an astonishingly open way. Also, his article affords a glimpse of what was done in stuttering therapy in Germany in the second half of the 19th century. Coming from a wealthy family, the treatment Ludwig Quidde received was presumably far above common standard. One of the treatments consisted of little rolls of cloth that were placed under little Ludwig's tongue while he was drilled in speaking and reading exercises. Other attempts were reciting poetry ("the more dramatic the better"), or just slowly repeating his therapist's words. Needless to say, all these treatments failed.

    At University, Quidde developed his own self-help approach. Some of his insights, exercises and experiences sound surprisingly up to date. "I stuttered because. . . I was afraid of stuttering", for instance. For what we call "desensitisation" he extensively went out on the streets and asked for directions, even attending a dancing school just to practice talking to young ladies.

    In his later years Quidde discovered that his public career was a great help. Obviously experiencing "stage fluency", he gained considerable confidence by the habit of public speaking. To increase his fluency he used to apply various techniques and tricks (the latter of which sinister views would call avoidance, though). On the whole, however, Ludwig Quidde remains an outstanding example of person who stuttered but did not let stuttering stop him.

Marcus Buckingham - by Andrew Harding (England)

    Marcus Buckingham is a British expatriate who overcame a bad childhood stammer to become a successful speaker and author on the US business circuit in the United States. He is reportedly one of the most sought-after names on the books of Leading Authorities, the speakers' bureau in Washington that handles him.

    Buckingham began to overcome the stammer at 13 years of age when his head teacher asked him to give a reading to 300 children. To his amazement, he sailed through the speech. His secret from then on was to imagine that he was addressing a large crowd, even if he was only speaking to a few friends.

    After studying languages and psychology at Cambridge University he went to work for the Gallup research company in the US. This gave him a good basis for his speaking career, after researching what made good managers and leaders during 17 years with Gallup. "We interviewed 80,000 of them, good and bad, and that gives you a lot of experience," he told London's Sunday Telegraph. "The one thing you need to know to sustain your success is to find out what you don't like doing and stop doing it. Your greatest opportunity for growth comes from concentrating on your strengths, but too many people think it is about working on their weaknesses."

    "I'm not some tub-thumping, chest-pounding speaker. I am focused on the research. I show people why what I'm telling them works." In The One Thing You Need To Know, published in June 2005, Buckingham aims to cut through the confusing and verbose rhetoric of most business books. "We live in the world of instant access and mass communication, so I wanted to focus on core principles," he said.

    Acknowledgements: The Sunday Telegraph, March 13 2005

Raina Kabaivanska - by Dobrinka Georgieva (Bulgaria)

    Raina Kabaivanska is an opera singer from Bulgaria and is a person who stutters. I think that the best way for anyone who wants to know more about her should visit the site: The following is extracted from that site. "Raina Kabaivanska was born in Burgass, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea.Her father was a veterinarian and a writer; also a talented inventor, as he designed and realized Balkantourist, the Bulgarian Tourist Association. Her mother was a professor of physics. Raina always lived in Sofia and studied there. As a child she played the piano and sang accompanying herself on a small accordeon. As a student at the Sofia Conservatory she was a soloist in the Artistic Collective of the Workers' Army and played and sang popular opera arias for soprano and mezzo. . . . In 1958 she obtained a 6-month scholarship from her government. She used it to finish her musical education in Italy.. . . . She made her stage debut at Vercelli as Giorgetta in Puccini's Il tabarro in 1959. . . . In 1961 she was considered mature enough to debut in Malipiero's Torneo Notturno at the Piccola Scala, with Antonino Votto's enthusiastic endorsement. . . . Between 1961 amd 1968 Raina studied technique and repertoire with the great Rosa Ponselle in Baltimore. . . . In 1969 Raina opened the season at La Scala singing Elvira in Verdi's Ernani with Placido Domingo and her fellow countryman Nikolai Ghiaurov. On that occasion she met a young stage producer, Franco Guandalini. . . who was a chemist in Modena in Northern Italy. He would later become her husband. . . ." Read more information written by Gina Guandalini about her career on the official website.

Chris Rainbow - by Tobe Richards (England)

    Singer-songwriter, musician, producer and arranger, Chris Rainbow (aka Chris Harley) was born Christopher Harley in Glasgow, Scotland on November 18th 1946.

    His initial career as a graphic artist began in the early sixties (lasting until 1972) before taking his first tentative steps towards music in 1970 with the Glasgow band, Hope Street. Harley and his fellow band members managed to obtain a recording contract from a company in London, but this short-lived venture soon led to Polydor Records, Nicky Graham, hearing three of Chris's early demo recordings, thanks to a friendís intervention and promptly offered him a four-year contract.

    At around this time another British recording artist with a similar name was making a big impact on the UK music scene with the band, Cockney Rebel, so Chris decided a change of name was a necessity. "Steve Harley was at his peak and I didn't want any confusion. The name Rainbow was found one evening as me and some friends were watching TV and the reporter's name flashed on the screen as 'Christopher Rainbow', so that was that."

    Under the Polydor label, Rainbow produced two memorable albums of complex harmony-laden progressive pop music, firstly with Home of the Brave in 1975, followed in 1978 by Looking Over My Shoulder. The latter included the critically acclaimed tribute to the then leader of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, in the form of the anthemic "Dear Brian". During this period, life-long stutterer, Rainbow, very much with tongue firmly in cheek came up with a comically apt title for his publishing company in the form of "Stutter Music". Despite critical success, five singles from the two albums failed to break into the top thirty. But following a third solo album, White Trails, in 1979, Chris Rainbow began a long and successful twenty year collaboration with The Alan Parsons Project as a much in demand vocalist, starting with Parsonsí concept album, Eve (1979).

    Over the years, his work as a vocalist, arranger or producer has led to an impressive body of work with many international recording artists including: Camel, Jon Anderson of Yes, Culture Club and Donnie Munro, among others. One of his most enduring and successful associations over some twenty years saw Rainbow reverting to his original name of Chris Harley as producer of the Gaelic rock band, Runrig. He also began the independent label Vital Spark Music that issued The River Detectives, Elvis Has Left the Building album.

    Inspite of having to contend with a fairly severe stutter, Chris Rainbow has achieved great longevity in the music business with a formidable body of work behind him. Like the majority of stutterers, any sign of disfluency vanishes the moment he starts to sing. The best of Chris's solo work can be found on the 2001 release, Chris Rainbow Anthology 1974-1981.

Aneurin Bevan - by Alan Badmington (Wales)

    Aneurin (Nye) Bevan, a legendary Welsh orator who gained a unique place in British political history, was born in the Monmouthshire town of Tredegar on 15 November 1897. He was one of 10 children.

    The young Aneurin loathed school, where he displayed a severe stutter that attracted taunts from his fellow pupils, and impatience from a bullying headmaster.

    His biographer, Michael Foot, claimed that Bevan's "mind and will were influenced by his stutter".* He became a prolific reader, and also routinely scanned Roget's Thesaurus in search of synonyms to replace words with which he experienced difficulties. This practice helped cultivate the expansive vocabulary that was to become the hallmark of his oratory in later years. The self-educated Bevan also developed a love of poetry, discovering that reciting aloud would alleviate his stutter.

    At the age of 13, he commenced work at a local colliery. In his teens, he joined the South Wales Miners' Federation, and at the age of 19, was appointed Chairman of his Lodge.

    In 1919, he won a scholarship to the Central Labour College in London, where he sharpened his debating skills and engaged in public speaking. Elocution lessons brought about a slow improvement in his stutter, although his own remedy was to speak at every opportunity. When later asked how he dealt with his stuttering, he replied "By torturing my audiences".

    In 1929, he entered Westminster as the Labour Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale. After presenting his maiden speech in the House of Commons, he was congratulated by Winston Churchill who added, "It is so seldom that we hear a real debating speech nowadays". Although the two later became bitter adversaries, they established a curious parliamentary friendship.

    Bevan's ability as an orator ensured that members of all parties flocked to the Chamber whenever he spoke. One commentator wrote, "He thinks quickly, and he does not think quietly. His thoughts seem to take possession of him. Some speakers are gestureless, others make use of gestures, but he seems to be all gesture, involuntarily turning his whole muscular machinery into a means of expression . . . He is the most vitalized speaker in the House".

    Another reported (after an important speech in the new post-war Parliament), "He dominated the House, not merely with his superb oratory, but by the warmth of his personality".

    His biographer opined, "He was the greatest master of the spoken word in British politics in this (20th) Century, second only, if second at all, to Lloyd George." *

    Although widely tipped as a future Prime Minister, Bevan never attained the highest political office. He was regularly at variance with certain sections of his own Party, (particularly over Defence policies) and assumed leadership of Labour's Left Wing for many years.

    After the Labour victory in 1945, Bevan was appointed Minister for Health and Housing. As architect of the National Health Service he was responsible for one of the most profound acts of modern social reform. In 1956, he became Shadow Foreign Secretary and, despite suffering from terminal cancer, was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 1959.

    Aneurin Bevan died on 6 July 1960.

    I learned a great deal about Bevan when I was growing up in Tredegar and heard him speak at a political meeting. On one occasion, he and his wife stopped their car to offer my brother and me a lift while we were exploring the countryside a few miles north of the town.

    Bevan's ashes were scattered overlooking the picturesque Duffryn Crawnon Valley (on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park), a short distance from where we encountered their vehicle. It was a location Aneurin had grown to love during his younger years, and one to which he would repeatedly retreat throughout his turbulent political career. I recall my father (who, as a young man, accompanied Bevan and my grandfather on walks in that area) telling me that Aneurin would use that tranquil setting to practise speaking aloud in an attempt to combat his stutter.

    Irrespective of individual political persuasions, one cannot fail to admire the courageous manner in which Aneurin Bevan refused to allow his communication difficulties to interfere with the path that he wished to tread in life.

    * Aneurin Bevan - a biography by Michael Foot, published by Victor Gollancz, London (1997)

Robert Kronberg - by Natasja Dahlmann (Sweden)

    Robert Kronberg was born in Gothenburg, Sweden on August 15th 1976. He is an athlete who runs 110 meter hurdles. His best run was in the European Championship in Madrid, Spain in 2005 where he got the bronze medal. Robert has a stutter but he does interviews and he likes to do it. He just keeps on talking. He has been running since he was 11 years old, when he won a school championship in Gothenburg. His favourite foods are Chinese and pizza. His personal best on 110 meter hurdles is 13.35 seconds. At the moment he is single but has a mother, a father and a sister.

    Something that he said: I look much better than Christian Olsson!

Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra - by Fernando Cuesta Momblona (Spain)

    Throughout history there are not very many references to famous people who stutter in Spain. The first reference to word "tartamudo" (stutterer in the Spanish language) is in a classical book "El cantar del Mio Cid", which narrates the history of the famous hero El Cid Campeador. In that book Pedro Bermúdez, nephew of the Cid Campeador is labeled a stutterer.

    In the past, the most famous Spanish stutterer was Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (1547-1616). Considered by many to be the greatest Spanish author, his novel Don Quixote is regarded as one of the masterpieces of world literature. Cervantes has achieved acclaim comparable to that given to such literary greats as the Greek poet Homer, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, and the English playwright William Shakespeare.

    In the prologue of one of his books, "Las Novelas ejemplares", (The Exemplary Novels), Cervantes briefly relates his biography. There, Cervantes described the battle of Lepanto (1572). In this battle he received two harquebus (an obsolete firearm with a long barrel) wounds in the chest, and a third wound which left his left hand useless and immortalized him as the "one-armed man of Lepanto."

    In 1575 he left Naples with a four-galley fleet bound for Barcelona. A storm dispersed the ships, and El Sol (The Sun), carrying both Cervantes and his brother, was captured off the Catalan coast by Berber pirates under the command of Arnaut Mamí. The captives were taken to Algiers. His captivity lasted five years.

    In that same prologue Cervantes complained of its misfortunes: "I have been without money, socially I am not anybody. I only have my speech, that although I stutter, will not be stopped from telling the truth."

Yordano - by Pedro R. Rodriguez

    There have been several Venezuelan high-achievers, in spite of their stuttering. Among them are scientists, academic and professional people, business people, and artists. Perhaps one of the most well known, present-day stutterers is the composer and interpreter Yordano (Giodano Di Mazo).

    This singer and composer, a representative of the genre called "Latin-Pop", made his first record in 1982. In the song, "Sad history", he expresses:

    The words wane, someone stops them for me. I began to shout, I began to cry, I began to sing.
    "And to you I sing with all my soul, of a man who sings what he endeavors to speak. I began to sing, I began to cry."
    In his work as a singer and composer he has had many successes that have made him one of the principle representatives of Venezuelan contemporary popular music. He is now 52 years old and continues to compose, presenting his work in Latin American settings.

Margaret Drabble - by Christine Badgett-Richards (England)

    Novelist and biographer Margaret Drabble was born 5th June,1939, in Sheffield, England, and educated at Cambridge University. Before embarking fulltime on her writing career, Drabble joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, where she was once an understudy for Vanessa Redgrave . She is married to biographer Michael Holroyd.

    She has written numerous novels, including A Summer Birdcage, The Millstone, Jerusalem the Golden, The Witch of Exmoor, and The Red Queen, as well as the non-fiction book A Writer's Britain. She is also the editor of the 1985 and 2000 editions of The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Drabble has received numerous awards and honours for her writing. In 1980, she was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) award for her outstanding literary achievements.

    Drabble is a patron of the British Stammering Association. In a lecture delivered to Oxford University in 2001, titled "Public Speech and Public Silence", she spoke at length about stammering and public speaking. She discussed the effect her own stammer has had on her life and career, as well as how stammering has affected other famous writers and speakers (including Somerset Maugham, Arnold Bennett, John Updike, Johnathan Miller, and King George the Sixth) and how they dealt with their speech when addressing the public.

    During the lecture, Drabble discussed her own stammering:

    "From an early age - the age of three, I am told - I suffered from a stammer, at times severe, though now very episodic and tempermental. So I could take the line that both Arnold Bennett and Somerset Maugham took when asked to speak in publicŠBoth were severe stammerers, and both insisted that they didn't speak, they wrote." She discussed word substitution and circumlocution in detail, and also addressed the question of why some people who stammer tend to be drawn to public speaking, while others avoid it : "Live speaking on or off the air is very different from broadcasting in a studio with a technical safety net. One might assume, from what I have been saying, that people like myself should avoid live public speech at all costs - but this brings me to one of the most surprising aspects of this whole tangled speech business. And this is the fact that many people who stammer seem actively drawn to public speech, and some of them are very good at it". The full text of the lecture can be found at the following link:

Although it is very interesting to read about famous people who stutter such as those in the above articles, it is also important to remember that there are many, many people who stutter in many, many different important careers who are also people who stutter, and who haven't let stuttering stop them either. The list below (begun by Linda Voight) was a part of the ISAD 2004 online conference which featured other biographies of several famous people who stutter. It is included again to provide a glimpse of some "every-day" occupations of people who stutter.

Administrative assistant
Air Traffic controller
Bank Examiner
Budget Analyst
Cancer Research Scientist
Captain, US Navy
Certified Public Accountant
Company Owners
Computer Programmer
Corporate Human Resources Manager
Data technician
Database Manager
Electronics Technician
Executive of Large Corporations
Executive Secretary
Expert Witness, Real Estate
Fashion Designer
Financial Planner
Flower shop owner
Graduate dean
Grants and Contract Specialist
Graphic Artist
Heating/Air Conditioning Technician
Insurance salesman
Kindergarten Teacher
Land Title Examiner
Legal Assistant
Lieutenant Colonel, Army
Medical Technologist
Middle School Teacher
Medical Technologist
Middle School Teacher
Motivational Speaker
Newspaper Reporter
Pediatric Neurosurgeon
Police officer
Newspaper Reporter
Pediatric Neurosurgeon
Police officer
Principal Engineer
Public Relations Consultant
Real Estate Appraiser
Registered Nurse, Operating Room
Retail Store Owner
Sales and Marketing
Sergeant First Class, US Army
Service Manager
Social Worker
Software Engineer
Speech Language Pathologist
TV News Reporter
University Professor
US Senator
Vice President of an International Company
Voice (singing) Teacher

For this article, you may post comments before October 22 to any or all of authors, or add another famous person who stutters from your country. You can also comment on how this kind of information can be useful for people who stutter.

September 2005

Return to the opening page of the conference