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Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling 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, Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity’s historical roots.