Celebrities, heroes and champions

Popular politicians in the age of reform, 1810–67

Simon James Morgan
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Celebrities, heroes and champions explores the role of the popular politician across a range of political movements and wider British and Irish society from the Napoleonic Wars to the Second Reform Act of 1867. Encompassing the parliamentary reform movements of Francis Burdett, Henry Hunt and the Chartists; Daniel O’Connell’s campaigns for Catholic Emancipation and Repeal of the Union; the transatlantic anti-slavery movement; and the Anti-Corn Law League, it offers a rare comparative perspective on the popular politics of the time. It examines the construction and dissemination of public reputations, as well as the impact of fame on those individuals and their dependents. Building on recent developments in the study of historical and contemporary fame, it argues that popular politicians were revered as heroes by their followers and became personally synonymous with both the aims and values of the causes they espoused. However, through the commercialisation of their images and the burgeoning markets for information and entertainment, they also became part of an international culture of celebrity, encapsulated by the rapturous receptions accorded to the romantic continental revolutionaries Lajos Kossuth and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

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