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Charles Kemble

CHARLES KEMBLE (1775-1854), a younger brother of John Philip and Stephen, was born at Brecon, South Wales, on the 25th of November 1775. He, too, was educated at Douai.

After returning to England in 1792, he obtained a situation in the post-office, but this he soon resigned for the stage, making his first recorded appearance at Sheffield as Orlando in As You Like It in that year. During the early period of his career as an actor he made his way slowly to public favour. For a considerable time he played with his brother and sister, chiefly in secondary parts, and this with a grace and finish which received scant justice from the critics. His first London appearance was on the 21st of April 1794, as Malcolm to his brother's Macbeth. Ultimately he won independent fame, especially in such characters as Archer in George Farquhar's Beaux' Stratagem, Dorincourt in Mrs Cowley's Belle's Stratagem, Charles Surface and Ranger in Dr Benjamin Hoadley's Suspicious Husband. His Laertes and Macduff were hardly less interesting than his brother's Hamlet and Macbeth. In comedy he was ably supported by his wife, Marie Therese De Camp (1774-1838), whom he married on the 2nd of July 1806. His visit, with his daughter Fanny, to America during 1832 and 1834, aroused much enthusiasm. The later period of his career was clouded by money embarrassments in connexion with his joint proprietorship in Covent Garden theatre. He formally retired from the stage in December 1836, but his final appearance was on the loth of April 1840. For some time he held the office of examiner of plays. In 1844- 1845 he gave readings from Shakespeare at Willis's Rooms. He died on the 12th of November 1854. Macready regarded his Cassio as incomparable, and summed him up as " a first-rate actor of second-rate parts."

See Gentleman's Magazine, January 1855; Records of a Girlhood, by Frances Anne Kemble.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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