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A History of Fandoms

A lot of adults are very critical of the fans of 1D or Zoella, thinking they are silly for getting so excited, and for screaming and shouting. But did you know that fandoms have existed for a very long time? They’ve not always been called fandoms; that is a fairly recent development, but they are nothing new.



Franz Liszt was a 19th-century Hungarian composer and pianist who inspired such a reaction from his fans that the writer Heinrich Heine created the term ‘Lisztomania’. Admires of  Liszt would fight over his handkerchiefs and gloves, wear his portrait on brooches try to get locks of his hair, or broken piano springs. Some fans even poured his left-over coffee into little glass phials! This quote is from a review of a recital in Paris.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”Dana Gooley” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”The ecstatic audience, breathing deeply in its rapt enthusiasm, can no longer hold back its shouts of acclaim: they stamp unceasingly with their feet, producing a dull and persistent sound that is punctuated by isolated, involuntary screams.”[/pullquote]

Frank Sinatra

The singer Frank Sinatra’s popularity amongst young people led to the phenomenon known as ‘Sinatramania’. Like the fandom that followed Listz around, these mainly young girls were dedicated to their idol. They wore ‘bobby socks’, and bowties like those that Sinatra wore.

At one concert, the audience of the first show refused to leave, frustrating those waiting outside. In what came to be known as the ‘Columbia Day Riots’. around 30,000 fans swarmed around Times Square in New York City. Hundreds of police officers were dispatched to deal with the crowd.



The first ‘boy band’, The Beatles appealed to young people around the world. Now that girls could watch their idols on TV, they could also see the reactions of other fans – which spurred them on to scream and shout even more. Fans felt connected to each other, which is an important part of a fandom. Like in Listz’s time, fans collected all sorts of things that were discarded by their heroes, such as cigarette butts and coffee dregs.

BieberMania, Directioners and YouTube Fandoms

In the past few years, we’ve seen Biebermania and Directioners, and even YouTuber Fandoms, such as the 8000 fans who turned up at an Alfie Deyes book signing.




Let me tell you – I know plenty of adults who are big fans of musicians, although they’d probably not admit to being in a fandom. And most of us really were in a fandom when we were younger. When I was your age, I loved the group Wham! I bought all their records (this was before CDs or music downloads!), put their posters on my walls and bought merch with their logo on it. It wasn’t particularly good merch though – I remember I bought a towel. No, I don’t know why either.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t let anyone put you down if you are a big fan of a singer or YouTuber.




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