10 Oct 2014

Malala: six other teenagers who changed the world

Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai becomes the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize at just 17. Channel 4 News looks at six other teenagers whose work is changing, or once changed, the world.

Joshua Wong, activist (17)

The founder of the student group Scholarism has become a political superstar in Hong Kong and the voice of the “umbrella” revolution. He was just eight months old when Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed to China by the UK. Despite arrest and being branded an extremist, he continues to campaign for democracy. “Even after all these incidents, it shows that the more they suppress us, the more we will fight,” he recently said.

Lorde, singer (17)

Described as “sparky, smart and precociously gifted,” Ella Yelich-O’Connor – aka Lorde – has dictated pop on her own terms. Her electro-pop single Royals amassed nearly 1 billion views on Youtube. She consistently out-thinks her interviewees and turned down an opportunity to tour with Katy Perry because, as she said at the time, it “didn’t feel right”.

Adora Svitak, campaigner (16)

Writing her first book at the age of seven, the child prodigy has been hailed as one of “America’s cleverest child”. In her Ted Talk lecture, delivered at the age of just 13, she said: “Sometimes a knowledge of history and the past failures of utopian ideals can be a burden because you know that if everything were free, then the food stocks would become depleted and scarce and lead to chaos.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer (1756-91)

Considered by some to be the world’s greatest ever composer, Mozart could hear chords on the piano at the age of three. At 14, he wrote Mitridate, re di Ponto, a three-act opera that paved the way towards some of his greatest work including The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni. During his teenage years he composed his five violin concertos, string quartets and a series of church compositions. By the time of his death aged 35 Mozart had left an indelible mark on classical music.

Anne Frank, writer (1929-45)

Anne Frank was 13 when her father gave her the book in which she wrote the diary that was to become her legacy. Shortly after that, the family was forced to hide themselves in a secret suite at the back of an Amsterdam office. She later died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The maturity, reflection and insight of her writings have made the Diary of Anne Frank one of the great period pieces of modern history.

William Pitt the Younger, politician (1759-1806)

A sickly child, William Pitt was schooled at home and became fluent in Greek and Latin. At 14, he enrolled to study political philosophy at at Cambridge, where he became friends with other big minds including the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. By 1783, at the age of just 24, Pitt became Britain’s youngest prime minister.