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Stephen Kemble

(1758—1822) actor and theatre manager


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(1758–1822), English actor, son of Roger and Sarah Kemble, strolling players. He was born in a theatre in Herefordshire, his mother having just completed her part in the evening's entertainment. As a child he acted with his parents. He then left the theatre, but returned when his elder sister Mrs Siddons became famous, hoping to profit by her popularity. He was a useful actor, but always overshadowed by his elder brother John Philip (above). In later life he became very fat, which enabled him to play Falstaff without padding, so that it was said that Drury Lane, under the management of John Philip, had the great Kemble, and Covent Garden, where Stephen was appearing, the big Kemble. He led a roving life, managing provincial theatres and a company in Ireland, and eventually returned to London to manage Drury Lane, with little success.

From The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.


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