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

Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen By Greg Jenner Cover Image
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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.

About the Author


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.

Praise For…


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

A magical mystery tour through the history of celebrity - eye opening, provocative, triumphant. Greg Jenner is a suave and generous guide to the glittering, glamorous, often deadly world of celebrity. Dead Famous takes you deep into fabulous lives, tells all about price you pay for fame and explores why the world in which we live needs to make a few shining people into icons who thrill us, obsess us and then, finally, we want to tear apart.—Kate Williams, author and historian

Fizzes with clever vignettes and juicy tidbits... [a] joyous romp of a book.—GUARDIAN

Jenner is an engaging tour guide who smuggles some thought-provoking points about our culture into his zippy pen-portraits.—MAIL ON SUNDAY

Jenner is equal parts wide-eyed historical buff and sassy polemicist. Like some frisky, over-caffeinated lovechild of Dan Snow and Marina Hyde, he can't help but entertain you, even as he's pouring facts down your throat.—GUARDIAN - Book of the Day

[An] engaging and well-researched book... Jenner brings his material to vivid life—OBSERVER

Rollicking—DAILY MAIL

There is an enjoyably wide range of cultural references... plenty of half-forgotten quirky treasures—SPECTATOR

This is a lively look at history's great and gawped at - and how they reshaped the world around them.—HISTORY REVEALED

With characteristic wit and curiosity, Jenner reveals the glamour and graft of celebrity lives in this rich, entertaining and original history.—Dr Hannah Greig, historical adviser to The Favourite and Poldark

Recommended read... entertaining and resonant stories of celebs from about 1700 to 1950.—READERS' DIGEST


Product Details
ISBN: 9781780225661
ISBN-10: 1780225660
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Pages: 416
Language: English