Dead Famous

Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen

Hardback Published on: 19/03/2020
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Bookseller Reviews

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Dead Famous
Dripping with wit
This is a really fun history book, sure to please readers of all types. Greg Jenner has the charismatic quality of a really dear freind telling an incredib... READ MORE
Kathrin Shawcross


During these extraordinary times Greg Jenner is able to sign you a personalised bookplate for your hardback. Please email [email protected] with the name you would like the book dedicated to and the postal address. 'Fizzes with clever vignettes and juicy tidbits... [a] joyous romp of a book.' Guardian 'A magical mystery tour through the history of celebrity - eye opening, provocative, triumphant.' Kate Williams, bestselling author and historian 'A fascinating, rollicking book in search of why, where and how fame strikes. Sit back and enjoy the ride.' Peter Frankopan 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. Celebrities could be heroes or villains; warriors or murderers; brilliant talents, or fraudsters with a flair for fibbing; trendsetters, wilful provocateurs, or tragic victims marketed as freaks of nature. Some craved fame while others had it forced upon them. A few found fame as small children, some had to wait decades to get their break. But uniting them all is the shared origin point: since the early 1700s, celebrity has been one of the most emphatic driving forces in popular culture; it is a lurid cousin to Ancient Greek ideas of glorious and notorious reputation, and its emergence helped to shape public attitudes to ethics, national identity, religious faith, wealth, sexuality, and gender roles. 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.

  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • ISBN: 9780297869801
  • Number of pages: 400
  • Weight: 640g
  • Dimensions: 164 x 236 x 38 mm

Customer Reviews

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Dead Famous
You don’t need to be a ‘history buff’ to live this book.
I have followed Greg Jenner’s career since discovering him when watching Horrible Histories with my daughter (and rewatching it since). He is clearly a man... READ MORE
Buffy Shaw
Dead Famous
A wonderful, friendly encounter of the past and present
Greg is a brilliant writer with outstanding intelligence, Dead Famous is beautifully written in a friendly tone that makes the educational content all the ... READ MORE
Abby George
Dead Famous
This is genuinely the best book I have read in a long time. It looks In depth at various aspects of celebrity throughout history and draws links with toda... READ MORE
Isabelle Walker
Dead Famous
As enlightening as it is entertaining - would recommend
I finished reading this joy of a book this afternoon and would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the notion of celebrity or social his... READ MORE
Catherine Smith
Dead Famous
Ab Fab... a brilliant and informative read
This is the a fun... informative and interesting read. I love how it flows together. Though I do disagree with his statement and that’s perfectly fine beca... READ MORE
Zoe Radley
Dead Famous
Loved it!
It’s fabulously funny, wonderfully written and incredibly interesting! If you love history, are fascinated by celebrity culture and just love a really goo... READ MORE
Nicola Braithwaite
Dead Famous
Dead good
I came to this book through listening to the brilliant ‘You’re Dead to Me’ podcast. As a rule, I tend to find non-fiction hard-going - my flitting brain ne... READ MORE
Sarah Clayton
Dead Famous
Fascinating and Fun History of Celebrity
A really interesting book about the history of celebrity from public historian Greg Jenner. It shares loads of interesting stories of historical celebritie... READ MORE