I’m reading an article by Stella Tillyard on celebrity in Georgian England and she references the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of celebrity. According to the OED, the term “celebrity” wasn’t applied to a person until 1849. But I’m fairly confident that I came across descriptions of Master Betty as a “celebrity” in some of the pamphlets I was viewing at the Houghton. And I remember thinking that this was unusual because I’d previously read that the term didn’t extend back that far. So…if I did, in fact, see this reference to Master Betty as a celebrity (something I’ll have to check on), then the OED date may be wrong. Or is it sacrilege for me to even hint at that?
Hmm…very interesting (to me anyway).
For Tillyard’s article, see “Celebrity in 18th-Century London,” History Today (June 2005): 20-27.