In an original contribution to the contested historiography on the emergence of America's middle class, Baker is the first to note the remarkable impact the cult of celebrity played in this phenomenon. Consequently, this study of N.P. Willis speaks broadly to the social and cultural changes that were fundamentally altering nineteenth century America. Sentiment and Celebrity tells the story of the man whom The New York Times once called "the most-talked-about author in America." An admired, if controversial, master of the sentimental appeal, the poet and "magazinist" N.P.Willis (1806-1867) helped to pioneer the modern business of celebrity.

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