Trivial pursuits

January 16, 2004

Fascinatingly trivial as the life of George Robert Fitzgerald was ("Georgian England saw first 'celebrity'", THES , January 9), the true progenitor of today's B and C-list celebrities was surely John Taylor (1578-1653), the self-styled "water poet".

Taylor specialised in batty stunts, often on a subscription basis. He then sold pamphlet accounts of his doings. His most remarkable feat was to row down the Thames in a paper boat, using two stockfish tied to canes as oars. He would have done rather well on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here .

Jonathan Sawday
University of Strathclyde

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