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
Adams, Frederickluthierphysician
Allen, Woodyjazz musicianfilmmaker
Alston, Joseph Cameronbadminton playerfederal agent
Ambros, August Wilhelmmusical archaeologistAustrian civil service


Person Avocation Vocation
Baden-Powell, RobertScoutingMilitary Officer
Balzary, Michaelnon-profit ManagementMusician
Barr, WilliamBagpiperAttorney
Benedetto, AnthonyPainterSinger
Bennett, WilliamClarinetistPhysicist
Billroth, TheodorPianistSurgeon
Blades, RubénActivistMusician
Blom, GertrudeSocial anthropologistJournalist
Borodin, AlexanderComposerChemist
Brontë, CharlotteAuthorGoverness
Butchart, HarveyGrand Canyon ExplorerMathematics Professor


Person Avocation Vocation
Carpenter, Charlesnaturalistminister
Chekhov, Antonwriter, playwrightphysician
Copeland, Johnnyboxerblues guitarist
Copernicus, NicolausAstronomerRoman Catholic cleric


Person Avocation Vocation
d'Abo, Oliviasinger-songwriterActress
Darger, HenryAuthor, IllustratorCustodian
Derleth, AugustnaturalistNovelist
Duncan, WatsonActorProfessor


Person Avocation Vocation
Eriugena, Johannes ScotusTheologianCourtier


Person Avocation Vocation
Fermat, Pierre deMathematicianLawyer
Foecke, TimWhittler, Wooden Toy MakerMetallurgist
Franco, VeronicaPoetCourtesan
Ford, HarrisonCarpenterActor
Feynman, Richard[5] Drummer Physicist


Person Avocation Vocation
Getty, J. PaulArt collectorOilman
Gilbert, Williamnatural philosopherPhysician
Goldblum, Jeffjazz musicianActor
Grahame, KennethwriterBank of England executive


Person Avocation Vocation
Hass, Rudolphbotanyletter carrier
Hewlett, Hildawoodwork, metalworkaviatrice
Hillary, Sir Edmundmountaineerbeekeeper
Hohlbaum, Robertwriterlibrarian
Houston, Charlesmountaineerphysician


Person Avocation Vocation
Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominiqueviolinistpainter
Ives, Charlescomposerinsurance agent


Person Avocation Vocation
Jacques, Brianauthormilkman
Jędruch, JacekhistorianNuclear engineer


Person Avocation Vocation
Kaleeba, Noerineactivistphysiotherapist
Kafka, Franzwriterinsurance assessor
Kent, CoritaArtist, printmakerRoman Catholic Nun
King, Augusta Adamathematiciancourtier
Kogan, Richard, M.D.pianistpsychiatrist
Krakauer, Jonmountaineerjournalist/writer
Kruger, Barbaraartistgraphic designer


Person Avocation Vocation
Lamarr, HedyInventorActress
Lifton, Robert JayCartoonistPsychiatrist
Lluberas, Gerónimomusicianphysician
Luna, Jamesartistcounselor


Person Avocation Vocation
Maier, VivianPhotographerau pair
Means, GastonCon artistsalesman
Morrison, ToniAuthoreditor
Moses, Anna Mary Robertson Painterfarmer


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


Person Avocation Vocation
Obici, Amedeofarmerbusinessman
Ottendorfer, Annaphilanthropistjournalist


Person Avocation Vocation
Peszke, Michael Alfredhistorianpsychiatrist
Pekar, Harveycomic book writerfile clerk


Person Avocation Vocation
Quirinus of Neussmissionarytribune


Person Avocation Vocation
Radi, AkbarPlaywrightteacher
Rodriguez, SixtoFolk MusicianDemolition worker
Roget, Peter MarkLexicographerPhysician
Rousseau, HenriPainterTax Collector
Ryan, JeriChefactress


Person Avocation Vocation
Santos, Reynaldo dosArt historianPhysician
Saro-Wiwa, KenEnvironmental activistTelevision producer
Shelley, MaryPolitical activistAuthor
Smith, Walter Parry HaskettBoulderinglawyer
Stevens, WallacePoetInsurance executive[6]


Person Avocation Vocation
Thomas, Jeanfolk festival promoterstenographer
Tov, Baal Shemarbitrator and mediatorRabbi
Tolkien, J. R. R.novelistPhilologist
Trollope, AnthonynovelistRoyal Mail executive


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


Person Avocation Vocation
Van Damme, Jean-Claude martial artistactor


Person Avocation Vocation
Weller, PeterArt historianactor
Wells, Ida B.suffragetteJournalist
White, Henryfox hunterdiplomat
White, Kateauthoreditor-in-chief
Whorf, Benjamin LeeLinguistfire prevention engineer
Williams, William CarlosPoetPediatrician[6]


Person Avocation Vocation
Xenakis, Ianniscomposerarchitect


Person Avocation Vocation
Yada, Lenasurfermodel, actress


Person Avocation Vocation
Zappa, Frank20th-century composerPopular music (composer, performer, producer)

Fictional people whose avocations were not their vocations

Person Avocation Vocation
Kent, Clark / Kal-ElSuperheroReporter
Stark, TonySuperheroIndustrialist
Wayne, Brucecrime fighterPhilanthropist/Industrialist/Heir
Quijano, AlonsoKnight-errantHidalgo
Schrute, DwightBeet farmerPaper salesman

See also


  1. Travis Saunders. "Avocation-vs-vocation". Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  2. Robert Miller (10 February 2010). "Your avocation may save your life". The News-Times. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  3. Boyd, B (20 October 2006). "A secret history of the old Ball game". Irish Times. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  4. Craig Giammona. "Avocation in Wood". Bowdoin. Retrieved 10 February 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.
  6. Neary, Lynn (6 September 2016). "Idea For 'Gentleman in Moscow' Came From Many Nights in Luxury Hotels". National Public Radio (Morning Edition). Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  7. "Tracey Ullman Takes on Knitting". NPR. NPR.org. Retrieved 14 September 2015.

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