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American First Lady Bess Truman with Girl Scouts and their volunteer leaders

An avocation is an activity that someone engages in as a hobby outside their main occupation. There are many examples of people whose professions were the ways that they made their livings, but for whom their activities outside their workplaces were their true passions in life.[1][2] Occasionally, as with Lord Baden-Powell and others, people who pursue an avocation are more remembered by history for their avocation than for their professional career.

Many times a person's regular vocation may lead to an avocation. Many forms of humanitarian campaigning, such as work for organizations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace, may be done by people involved in the law or human rights issues as part of their work.[3]

Many people involved with youth work pursue this as an avocation.[4]

Avocation in literature

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future's sakes.

-- Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, st. 9

People whose avocations were not their vocations





Person Avocation Vocation
d'Abo, Olivia singer-songwriter Actress
Darger, Henry Author, Illustrator Custodian
Derleth, August naturalist Novelist
Duncan, Watson Actor Professor


Person Avocation Vocation
Eriugena, Johannes Scotus Theologian Courtier


Person Avocation Vocation
Fermat, Pierre de Mathematician Lawyer
Foecke, Tim Whittler, Wooden Toy Maker Metallurgist
Franco, Veronica Poet Courtesan
Ford, Harrison Carpenter Actor
Feynman, Richard[5] Drummer Physicist



Person Avocation Vocation
Hass, Rudolph botany letter carrier
Hewlett, Hilda woodwork, metalwork aviatrice
Hillary, Sir Edmund mountaineer beekeeper
Hohlbaum, Robert writer librarian
Houston, Charles mountaineer physician


Person Avocation Vocation
Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique violinist painter
Ives, Charles composer insurance agent


Person Avocation Vocation
Jacques, Brian author milkman
J?druch, Jacek historian Nuclear engineer


Person Avocation Vocation
Kaleeba, Noerine activist physiotherapist
Kafka, Franz writer insurance assessor
Kent, Corita Artist, printmaker Roman Catholic Nun
King, Augusta Ada mathematician courtier
Kogan, Richard, M.D. pianist psychiatrist
Krakauer, Jon mountaineer journalist/writer
Kruger, Barbara artist graphic designer


Person Avocation Vocation
Lamarr, Hedy Inventor Actress
Lifton, Robert Jay Cartoonist Psychiatrist
Lluberas, Gerónimo musician physician
Luna, James artist counselor


Person Avocation Vocation
Maier, Vivian Photographer au pair
Means, Gaston Con artist salesman
Morrison, Toni Author editor
Moses, Anna Mary Robertson Painter farmer


Person Avocation Vocation
Norton, Joshua A. Emperor of these United States businessman


Person Avocation Vocation
Obici, Amedeo farmer businessman
Ottendorfer, Anna philanthropist journalist


Person Avocation Vocation
Peszke, Michael Alfred historian psychiatrist
Pekar, Harvey comic book writer file clerk


Person Avocation Vocation
Quirinus of Neuss missionary tribune


Person Avocation Vocation
Radi, Akbar Playwright teacher
Rodriguez, Sixto Folk Musician Demolition worker
Roget, Peter Mark Lexicographer Physician
Rousseau, Henri Painter Tax Collector
Ryan, Jeri Chef actress


Person Avocation Vocation
Santos, Reynaldo dos Art historian Physician
Saro-Wiwa, Ken Environmental activist Television producer
Shelley, Mary Political activist Author
Smith, Walter Parry Haskett Bouldering lawyer
Stevens, Wallace Poet Insurance executive[6]



Person Avocation Vocation
Ullman, Tracey knitter and author[7] actress


Person Avocation Vocation
Van Damme, Jean-Claude martial artist actor



Person Avocation Vocation
Xenakis, Iannis composer architect


Person Avocation Vocation
Yada, Lena surfer model, actress


Person Avocation Vocation
Zappa, Frank 20th-century composer Popular music (composer, performer, producer)

Fictional people whose avocations were not their vocations

Bruce Wayne as his alter ego Batman

See also


  1. ^ Travis Saunders. "Avocation-vs-vocation". Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ Robert Miller (10 February 2010). "Your avocation may save your life". The News-Times. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ Boyd, B (20 October 2006). "A secret history of the old Ball game". Irish Times. Retrieved 2007.
  4. ^ Craig Giammona. "Avocation in Wood". Bowdoin. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ Gleick, James (1992). Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. Pantheon Books. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-679-40836-9. OCLC 243743850.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  6. ^ a b Neary, Lynn (6 September 2016). "Idea For 'Gentleman in Moscow' Came From Many Nights in Luxury Hotels". National Public Radio (Morning Edition). Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "Tracey Ullman Takes on Knitting". NPR. NPR.org. Retrieved 2015.

External links

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