Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Question from Nicole - Celebrity of actors in the 16th century

Hey, I'm thinking about writing a story about a Tudor era gentleman who is a very famous actor / celebrity from the English theatre. So, I have a couple of questions; would being a famous celebrity back then be harder or easier than it is nowadays? Also, would he get bombarded with people asking him to sign autographs, or have some 16th century version of the paparazzi all up in his business and private life constantly?


Anonymous said...

As with the previous question regarding eating disorders, I have to wonder whether you are starting with a false premise. Was there even such a thing as "celebrities" in the sixteenth century? Especially in the marginalized world of actors and the theater. I believe the answer to be firmly "No," and I would argue that "celebrity" is a much more modern concept. How would a person become a "celebrity" in a world in which there were no movies, televisions, newspapers, magazines, or any other form of mass media that might enable one to become "famous"? And as I understand it, "autograph seeking" of the type you allude to (individuals being "bombarded" by "fans" with pen and paper in hand asking for a signature) is likewise a very modern phenomenon. And in that context, it may be very important to remember that over 85% of the population of Elizabethan England could not read, so what value could an autograph hold if the person supposedly seeking it could not read it?!? The same holds for paparazzi ... paparazzi are specifically photographers, so how could you have paparazzi 250 years before the camera was invented? In my opinion, your story idea is totally inconsistent with the reality of late Tudor England.

Anonymous said...

There were no "Celebrities" in the modern sense. The nobles and royals were the closest thing to what we would think of a celebrity in terms of wealth and notoriety. To many times we try to look backwards on the past with lenses of the present and we simply cannot do this to truly understand the times.