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Kenney, James

KENNEY, JAMES (1780-1849), English dramatist, was the son of James Kenney, one of the founders of Boodles' Club in London. His first play, a farce called Raising the Wind (1803), was a success owing to the popularity of the character of " Jeremy Diddler." Kenney produced more than forty dramas and operas between 1803 and 1845, and many of his pieces, in which Mrs Siddons, Madame Vestris, Foote, Lewis, Liston and other leading players appeared from time to time, enjoyed a considerable vogue. His most popular play was Sweethearts and Wives, produced at the Haymarket theatre in 1823, and several times afterwards revived; and among the most successful of his other works were : False Alarms (1807), a comic opera with music by Braham; Love, Law and Physic (1812); Spring and Autumn (1827); The Illustrious Stranger, or Married and Buried (1827); Masaniello (1829); The Sicilian Vespers, a tragedy (1840). Kenney, who numbered Charles Lamb and Samuel Rogers among his friends, died in London on the 25th of July 1849. He married the widow of the dramatist Thomas Holcroft, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.

His second son, CHARLES LAMB KENNEY (1823-1881), made a name as a journalist, dramatist and miscellaneous writer. Commencing life as a clerk in the General Post Office in London, he joined the staff of The Times, to which paper he contributed dramatic criticism. In 1856, having been called to the bar, he became secretary to Ferdinand de Lesseps, and in 1857 he published The Gales of the East in support of the projected construction of the Suez Canal. Kenney wrote the words for a number of light operas, and was the author of several popular songs, the best known of which were " Soft and Low " (1865) and " The Vagabond " (1871). He also published a Memoir of M. W. Balfe (1875), and translated the Correspondence of Balzac. He included Thackeray and Dickens among his friends in a literary coterie in which he enjoyed the reputation of a wit and an accomplished writer of vers de societe. He died in London on the 25th of August 1881.

See John Genest, Some Account of the English Stage, 1660-1830, vols. yii. and viii. (10 vols., London, 1832); P. W. Clayden, Rogers and his Contemporaries (2 vols., London, 1889) ; Diet. National Biog.

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

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