Edmund Kean

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Kean, Edmund,

1787?–1833, English actor. Kean's acting expressed the ideal of the romantic temperament. A small man with a wild spirit and a gruff voice, he was lauded for his facial mobility; according to Coleridge he had the power to reveal Shakespeare by "flashes of lightning." With his energy and violent emotions, Kean brought about a radical change in the prevailing classical style of the period.

Kean served an apprenticeship with groups of provincial and strolling players and in 1814 appeared at Drury Lane as Shylock, a triumph that is a landmark in the history of the theater. He further increased his reputation with portrayals of Richard III, Iago, Othello, Macbeth, Barabbas, and Sir Giles Overreach. In the United States in 1820–21 Kean had many triumphs, but a broken engagement in Boston ruined his popularity there.

Kean's personal life was as stormy as his career. In 1822 a suit against him for adultery resulted in his separation from his wife and son and hastened the disintegration of his reputation. In 1825 he again visited the United States and in some measure retrieved his reputation. After his return to England in 1826 his health and dramatic powers declined.


See biographies by H. N. Hillebrand (1933) and M. W. Disher (1950).

His son, Charles John Kean, 1811?–1868, went on the stage against his father's wishes. At his father's last appearance in 1833 he played Iago to his father's Othello at Covent Garden. He often played opposite his wife, Ellen Tree Kean, 1808–80, a noted comedienne, whom he married in 1842.


See the letters of C. and E. Kean, ed. by J. M. D. Hardwick (1954).

References in periodicals archive ?
Edmund Kean, who was third in the EBF Final over hurdles behind Close Touch and Many Clouds in 2013, ran well for three-quarters of the race on his first start for Bowen in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.
In both locations, colonial theatres and newspapers became the staging ground for heated debates about the actress's proclaimed virtuosity, notably her portrayal of male characters and her supposed resemblance to Edmund Kean.
Spectators received a well-illustrated program with Innu translations of Ariel's songs, paintings from Huron-Wendat history and the story of Edmund Kean, who inspired Lepage.
If Wordsworth's egotism represented, in both his life and work, a literary parallel to the masterful authority displayed on the Covent Garden stage by John Philip Kemble, Edmund Kean embodied for Keats a refusal to seek cultural distinction by emulating that authority.
Jacob Adler describes how Edmund Kean went to the theatre contemplating suicide and out of his despair created a majestic performance as Shylock.
The production of Richard III by the actor Edmund Kean was much celebrated in its time, and what is more it is possible that in delivering our line Kean adopted the rueful interpretation.
Using Scribe's style of the "Well-made Play," Archer begins his biography of Junius Brutus Booth at a pivotal moment in the elder Booth's career - the showdown with Edmund Kean at Old Drury - and then surgically recreates the life of early America's "Theatrical Prometheus.
Success stemmed from the production by Edmund Kean, the noted British actor, of Payne's Brutus; or, The Fall of Tarquin, which opened on Dec.
The Haverfordwest handler has also left in Edmund Kean but he is not guaranteed a run in a maximum 30-runner line-up.
Dai Walters would love a big winner at the track he owns and he relies on the Peter Bowentrained Edmund Kean, who was pulled up in the Welsh National on his return from an eight-month layoff.
Walters' two chances are Tanerko Emery in the PS50,000 hurdle race, in which he was placed two years ago, and Edmund Kean, who ran in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow at Christmas, in the chase.
For various reasons I've omitted Sam Winner, Mendip Express, Rigadin De Beauchene, McMurrough, Alpha Victor, Edmund Kean and Nuts N Bolts.