The author Roald Dahl and artist Lucien Freud are among those who have turned down honours from the Queen, according to official government records.
A list of those who declined an honour between 1951 and 1999, and who have since died, has been published for the first time.
Until now, the information was so secret it was not included in official papers released under the 30-year rule.
It has been made public following a Freedom of Information request.
News of people refusing an OBE, CBE or knighthood in the annual New Year or Birthday Honours list normally only comes to light if they volunteer the information themselves or reports are leaked.
In total 277 people are named on the list including the painters Francis Bacon and LS Lowry, the sculptor Henry Moore and novelist Aldous Huxley.
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End Quote John Lennon Note to the Queen returning MBEYour Majesty, I am returning this in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts”
It shows that Lowry turned down more honours than anybody else, with a total of five, including an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961 and a knighthood in 1968.
Bacon turned down a CBE in 1960, while Freud refused the honour in the 1977 New Year's Honours list.