Are you in the mood for some great food and stimulating conversation? We asked Road Scholars who they would have dinner with if they could pick anyone, living or dead, and the dinner guests who came out on top in our poll comprise some of the greatest hearts and minds who have ever walked the planet. Gather 12 chairs around your dining room table, and bring your “A-game” to this gathering!

Since it’s your party, you can drop one guest and add another of your personal choice before we send out invitations. Who will you drop and who will you add? Who will you seat on either side of you, and what questions will you ask them? Hundreds of respondents wanted to invite an ancestor, spouse or family member who has passed away, and there’s you of course, so that’s two chairs. Here are the other 10 guests, and some of the reasons survey respondents gave for inviting them:


Jesus of Nazareth

  • “I'd like to know what he thinks about what we've done to the earth and how we've treated each other.”
  • “It would be fascinating to hear his teachings from his own mouth and not something written down by others, especially people who never met him.”
  • “I'm sure all the good stories didn't make it into print.”
  • “So many questions!”

Abraham Lincoln

  • “It would be interesting to get insight into his thinking of how to bring the country together.”
  • “He was a great storyteller and I'm sure he would make me feel like I belonged to the group.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

  • “How someone raised as she was came to her feeling for people who were needy, black, hungry is something I'd really like to understand.”
  • “She was a woman ahead of her time. It would be fascinating to listen to her.”
  • “I would like to tell her how she influenced me through her columns (I tried to read them daily as a teenager) and how adventurous she appeared to me.”

Barack Obama

  • “To thank him for being a gracious, intelligent, thoughtful and inclusive leader.”
  • “There are so many questions I'd like to ask former President Obama about his priorities for his life now.”
  • “He seems to be very personable and would listen closely to my questions and answer them honestly.”
  • “I think he would be fun.”

Thomas Jefferson

  • “I feel that we have failed to follow the direction that the framers to our country's constitution had envisioned for us. I would like to understand more of their vision.”
  • “His wine choices would be interesting.”

Albert Einstein

  • “I would love to know what he would think about the discoveries that have happened since his death.”
  • “Perhaps he could explain some of the paradoxes of time and space to me.”

Teddy Roosevelt

  • “A man of many talents, experiences and adventures who made a significant and lasting contribution to the nation.”

Winston Churchill

  • “He was a noted raconteur and would make dinner entertaining.”
  • “So I could listen to him speak, and so I would have a better idea of whether all the nasty things that have been said about him have any basis in truth.”

William Shakespeare

  • “I love Shakespeare's works and would enjoy having a chance to hear directly from him about his writing process and how he came up with the stories and phrases he used in his plays.”
  • “I would like to know more about him as a person. How did a person from a small town with as limited an education as he had develop such an incredible knowledge and insight into the human condition?”
  • “The first thing I would ask him is, ‘Did you really author all those plays yourself?’”

Leonardo da Vinci

  • “I would love to know how he came up with all of his great ideas.”
  • “So I could ask him who the Mona Lisa is.”
  • “We would discuss at dinner his concepts of flight, then after dinner take him on a flight in my airplane and allow him to handle the controls and see how closely his concepts were correct for humans to fly.”



I think you’ll agree that this will be a pretty serious evening. If you’re not in that kind of mood, consider this list, all of whom got votes in our poll: Maya Angelou, Lucille Ball, Ellen DeGeneres, Ben Franklin, Katherine Hepburn, Garrison Keillor, Helen Mirren, Harry Truman, Mark Twain, Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde. Doesn’t that sound like fun?


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