I am a mature student undertaking researching the impact of celebrity culture upon wider society during the Regency period (Britain 1811-1832).
My thesis uses William Long-Wellesley (1788-1857) as a case study, to shed light on avenues open to achieve celebrity status, and explore the extent that such contemporary celebrity influenced public political and legal opinion.
Long-Wellesley was an unashamed self-publicist, directly communicating with the public through the medium of mass-produced print media. His readiness to discuss his personal life so openly ran counter to existing practices respecting privacy of the individual - by participating in the release of such stories, Long-Wellesley by-passed existing mechanisms protecting well-known individuals from exposure, compelling changes - both in attitudes to standards of behaviour in public life, but also in terms of significant legal reforms.
My thesis will argue that Long-Wellesley's celebrity ambitions were not unusual - and that increased consumerism after 1750 created a new public sphere within which it was possible for individuals to become commodified for public consumption. This was a democratic process; celebrity could be bestowed on a criminal or a bare-knuckle fighter just as easily as upon an artist or aristocrat - and it was enabled by a boom in print and visual media, which responded to (or fed) an enormous public appetite for novelty and sensation.
Long-Wellesley makes a good case-study because he was prominent for so long in the public eye, having no discernible talent other than the ability to generate interest in himelf.
For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.