A central feature of the cultural power and salience of celebrity is a sense of uniqueness and novelty, arising from the claim to be unprecedented, to stand so far out from the crowd that the question of precedents is simply unthinkable. This is not always the case, some types of celebrity are generated retrospectively, often organized around a dead individual, with Elvis Presley only the most obvious example. But overall the weight of the experience of celebrity is tilted towards the present, which is why one can almost hear the collective sigh of relief among students of the topic echoing around the globe when they encounter sentences like Richard Schickel’s ‘there was no such thing as celebrity prior to the beginning of the twentieth century’ (1985: 23). Whew, that’s so much less reading we need to do!