In the twenty-first century, our defining celebrities have crafted public personae that walk the tightrope between authenticity and artificiality. Ordinary people have followed suit: lovingly tending our ‘personal brands’. But today’s self-creators are hardly new. Rather, the ruling idea that we not only can – but should – ‘make’ our own selves, curate our own image and shape our own destiny, is an inextricable part of the post-Enlightenment world: where the power of aristocracy and religion gave way to the triumph of the individual and the myth of the self-made man. From the Renaissance genius to the Regency dandy, the American prophets of capitalism to the European obsession with the superman, the Golden Age of Hollywood to Silicon Valley, this book takes us on a dizzying tour of modern history’s most prominent self-makers.