Thursday, August 23, 2007
Results of the Regency Celebrity Poll
A few months ago I asked readers to vote on my website for the person they considered to be the ultimate Regency celebrity. There was a huge response and the results are now in. It was especially interesting to read the fascinating comments that accompanied the nominations.
Here are the results:
With an impressive 48% of the vote, the runaway winner was Jane Austen. Whilst acknowledging that she was not a "celebrity" in her own time, people commented that her current celebrity status was based on achievement and they valued enormously the contribution she had made to literature.
In second place with 18% of the vote was Lord Byron. The man who was "mad, bad and dangerous to know" was, in the words of one voter a man who was built up, lionized and torn down in the same fashion that modern celebrities experience.
In third place on 12% was Beau Brummell. One reader commented: "He was famous for nothing in particular, like many of our celebrities today who are just famous without having any particular accomplishments."
Mary Shelley got 4% of the vote, as did the Prince Regent himself. There were also honourable mentions for war heroes Nelson, Wellington, Cochrane and Napoleon, and for several fictional creations such as Mr Darcy.
I will be looking at the cult of celebrity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in an article for the Historical Novel Review's autumn edition.