Famous Bathers

A study in how bathing helps make the man

We’re obliged to begin this post with a disclaimer: one bath won’t turn you into a virtuoso composer. Nor will you surface as a beloved novelist, or a founder of nations. Bathing, we should say, may not make the man…

But the evidence tells us one thing – it bloody well helps. 

Read up on some of history’s titanic figures and you’ll discover they were all avid bathers, taking to the tub daily to ruminate, medidate, and innovate. Pure chance? No chance. The explanation, bather-to-be, is simple... 

Bathing unlocks something deep within us all. A sense of the possible – a world where the mind wanders free, and Eureka moments come full-flow. Yes, great men have great ideas. But great ideas are born in the bath.

History’s giants knew all this, of course. And now, so do you. But, if you’re still sceptical, here’s how four famous figures embraced the bath, soaked for a bit, and made history:

Ludwig van Beethoven

Famous Bathers: Beethoven

This composer extraordinaire knew how to churn out a tune or two. And, according to his secretary, most of them began life as whistles from the bathtub.

It turns out, baths were more than mere pastime for Ludwig. Instead, they were ‘moments of deep meditation’, interrupted only by the need to jot down notes for his latest symphony. In fact, he’d bathe so frequently that the water would regularly seep through the floorboards. The result? Beethoven soon became “everywhere unwelcome as a lodger”. A small price to pay for a good bath, we say.

And when Beethoven started to lose his hearing in the late 18th century, his bathing ritual helped him battle his depression. Promising at last to “seize Fate by the throat”, despite his predicament, he went on to reach higher acclaim than he’d enjoyed with all his senses intact – even learning to compose by vibration alone. In the end, when he died, 10,000 people attended his funeral. All because of the musical masterpieces that first struck him in the tub.

Victor Hugo

Famous Bathers: Victor Hugo

Men in exile have much to ponder – and where better to do it than in the bath?

Such was the story of author and poet Victor Hugo’s 15 years on the island of Guernsey. After a breakfast of raw eggs and a few hours’ writing in his rooftop office, Vic was known to take himself out onto the balcony, submerge in icy water left out overnight, and scrub vigorously with a horsehair brush. Often, in full view of both his neighbours and his mistress, Juliette. 

Our recommendation is thus: bathing vital, exhibitionism optional.

But it must’ve worked for Hugo, all the same. Because it was on Guernsey that he’d write his most famous work – the novel Les Misérables – as well as other classics that made his name (and his fortune). Much like Beethoven, a bath unlocked Victor’s best work. Might it do the same for you?

Benjamin Franklin

Famous Bathers: Benjamin Franklin

It takes a pioneer to forge a nation. And Benjamin Franklin was certainly a pioneer – though his unusual bathing habits may never catch on. 

Foregoing what we’d normally consider a bath’s most vital ingredient, water, Ben would instead opt for an ‘air bath’. Hard to fathom? We know. If accounts from the time are to be believed, though, Franklin found the cold water of the day too much of a shock, and would instead sit naked in the tub, reading, thinking, and letting the cool morning air ‘wash’ over him as he planned America’s rise. 

We won’t judge him for his ‘air baths’. His face adorns the dollar bill, after all, and any bath is a step in the right direction if you ask us. But, if he’d had easy access to a boiler and some taps, we’re sure Franklin would’ve much preferred a long soak with oils and salts. 

How better to relax after a hard day’s nation-building?   

Winston Churchill

Famous Bathers: Winston Churchill

“Never surrender.”

Two of Churchill’s most memorable words. But even he would regularly succumb to the lure of the tub, often twice a day. 

As in all things, Sir Winston was highly particular about his baths. Always long, always hot, and, thankfully, always a reliable source of inspiration when the country needed it most. In fact, we’d argue that it was in the bath where Churchill was at his decisive best. Here’s just one example:

In 1944, as the Second World War raged on, Allied command planned the Normandy beach landings known forevermore as D-Day. But there was a problem – if the landings succeeded, they still had no way to receive vital supplies and reinforcements. The beaches’ new defenders would simply starve.

Churchill, taking his usual bath one day, was presented with the idea of floating, temporary harbours. These could accommodate shallow boats, rather than the behemoths that did most of the Allies’ supply runs. Demanding an immediate demonstration, paper boats were placed in the bath, with sponges replicating the harbours. With Churchill convinced, work began immediately, and D-Day became a famous step on the road to victory.

His bath had unlocked the answer. Funny how often it does.

Who will you become?

If history tells us anything, then it’s that the right bath can move mountains, and help turn mere men into giants. Want to know who you’ll become? So do we – so let’s find out together. Find the right salts and essential oils for you, at BAVE.

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