John Philip Kemble

John Philip Kemble
John Philip Kemble Hamlet 1802.jpg
John Philip Kemble as Hamlet, from an engraving of a painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1802)
Born(1757-02-01)1 February 1757
Prescot, Lancashire, England[1]
Died26 February 1823(1823-02-26) (aged 66)
Lausanne, Switzerland
OccupationActor-manager
Years active1761–1817
Spouse(s)Priscilla Hopkins Brereton
Parent(s)Roger Kemble
Sarah Ward
RelativesSarah Siddons (sister)
Charles Kemble (brother)
Stephen Kemble (brother)
Ann Hatton (sister)
Elizabeth Whitlock (sister)
John Philip Kemble by Sir William Beechey, 1798 (detail), Dulwich Picture Gallery

John Philip Kemble (1 February 1757 – 26 February 1823)[2] was an English actor. He was born into a theatrical family as the eldest son of Roger Kemble, actor-manager of a touring troupe. His elder sister Sarah Siddons achieved fame with him on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His other siblings, Charles Kemble, Stephen Kemble, Ann Hatton, and Elizabeth Whitlock, also enjoyed success on the stage.

Early life

The second child of Roger Kemble – the manager of the travelling theatre company the Warwickshire Company of Comedians – he was born at Prescot, Lancashire.[1] His mother being a Roman Catholic, he was educated at Sedgley Park Catholic seminary (now Park Hall Hotel), near Wolverhampton, and the English college at Douai, France, with a view to becoming a priest. At the end of the four years' course, he still felt no vocation for the priesthood, and returning to England he joined the theatrical company of Crump & Chamberlain, his first appearance being as Theodosius in Nathaniel Lee's tragedy of that name at Wolverhampton on 8 January 1776.

In 1778, Kemble joined the York company of Tate Wilkinson, appearing at Wakefield as Captain Plume in George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer; in Hull for the first time as Macbeth on 30 October, and in York as Orestes in Ambrose Philips's Distresset Mother. In 1781 he obtained a "star" engagement at Dublin making his first appearance there on 2 November as Hamlet. He also achieved great success as Raymond in The Count of Narbonne, a play taken from Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto.

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