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Fizzes with clever vignettes and juicy tidbits... [a] joyous romp of a book.' Guardian 'A fascinating, rollicking book in search of why, where and how fame strikes. Sit back and enjoy the ride.' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads '[An] engaging and well-researched book... Jenner brings his material to vivid life' Observer Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling, titillating, and outraging us for much longer than we might realise. Whether it was the scandalous Lord Byron, whose poetry sent female fans into an erotic frenzy; or the cheetah-owning, coffin-sleeping, one-legged French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who launched a violent feud with her former best friend; or Edmund Kean, the dazzling Shakespearean actor whose monstrous ego and terrible alcoholism saw him nearly murdered by his own audience - the list of stars whose careers burned bright before the Age of Television is extensive and thrillingly varied. In this ambitious history, that spans the Bronze Age to the coming of Hollywood's Golden Age, Greg Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity's historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. DEAD FAMOUS is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society.
Greg Jenner is a public historian, broadcaster, and author, and an Honorary Research Associate at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he does some occasional teaching. He is the Historical Consultant to BBC's Emmy & multiple BAFTA award-winning HORRIBLE HISTORIES, and was a key member of the team on HORRIBLE HISTORIES: THE MOVIE - ROTTEN ROMANS. He is the host of the number one BBC comedy podcast YOU'RE DEAD TO ME and the children's version, HOMESCHOOL HISTORY, and is a regular voice on BBC Radio 4. His TV appearances include BBC2's THE GREAT HISTORY QUIZ and INSIDE VERSAILLES. He has written two previous books - A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY and DEAD FAMOUS: AN UNEXPECTED HISTORY OF CELEBRITY.