Kemble, Charles

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Kemble, Charles (1775–1854). Actor and manager. Youngest son of actor-manager Roger Kemble, Charles abandoned the post office for the stage, first appearing in the provinces (1792), then Drury Lane, London (1794). Often performing with his brother John Philip and sister Sarah ( Mrs Siddons), he had an extensive repertoire but excelled in comedy (Doricourt, Mercutio) and was noted for secondary Shakespeare roles (Malcolm, Cassio). His management of Covent Garden commenced 1822/3, but it was saved from bankruptcy only by the début in 1829 of his daughter Fanny; their teamwork proved as successful in America as in Britain. Increasing deafness led to nominal retirement from the stage but appointment as examiner of plays (1836), until he resigned this post to his philological son John Mitchell (1840) and ceased his Shakespeare readings. Though perpetuating the family's declamatory and stilted style and favouring melodrama, Kemble introduced the use of historically ‘authentic’ costumes and stage-sets.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Charles Kemble

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