John Philip Kemble

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John Philip Kemble (1757–1823) was an actor, theatrical manager, and literary collector. The younger brother of Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), whom he played opposite later in his career, Kemble was an accomplished actor, a playwright, and the author of (as Peter Thomson terms it) a small collection of poems titled Fugitive Pieces, which "was published in York in 1780, to his later, justifiable, embarrassment."[1] After 1788, Kemble took over as acting manager of the Drury Lane Theatre.

The Folger widely collects materials related to the Kemble family, including manuscripts, correspondence, and works formerly owned by John Philip Kemble. Kemble's practice of careful study of his roles extended to his factitiousness in his reading as well: many of his books are annotated with the date that they are read. Interested in first editions, Kemble recorded when his works were "Collated & Perfect."

Notable Items at the Folger

A wide range of items at the Folger formerly belonged to John Philip Kemble.

A Yorkshire tragedie. Not so new, as lamentable and true. VVritten by VV. Shakespeare. [London] : Printed for T.P., 1619. Fully imaged in Luna.

Thomas Dekker, The vvhore of Babylon. As it was acted by the Princes Seruants. Written by Thomas Dekker. London : printed [at Eliot’s Court Press?] for Nathaniel Butter, 1607. Call number: STC 6532

John Dryden, All for love: or, The world well lost. A tragedy, as it is acted at the Theatre-Royal; and written in imitation of Shakespeare’s stile. [London]: In the Savoy: printed for H. Herringman, and sold by R. Bently, J. Tonson, F. Saunders, and T. Bennet, 1692. Call number: D2230

Kemble Annotations

  1. Peter Thomson, ‘Kemble, John Philip (1757–1823)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15322 accessed 13 March 2015