William Hunter Kendal

Last updated

William H. Kendal, c. 1900 WHKendal 001.jpg
William H. Kendal, c. 1900

William Hunter Kendal (16 December 1843 – 7 November 1917) was an English actor and theatre manager. He and his wife Madge starred at the Haymarket in Shakespearian revivals and the old English comedies beginning in the 1860s. In the 1870s, they starred in a series of "fairy comedies" by W. S. Gilbert and in many plays on the West End with the Bancrofts and others. In the 1880s, they starred at and jointly managed (with John Hare) the St. James's Theatre. They then enjoyed a long touring career.

Contents

Biography

Kendal was born William Hunter Grimston in London, the middle son of portrait artist Edward Hunter Grimston, and his wife, Louisa née Rider. [1] His maternal grandfather was a painter, and the boy demonstrated early talent in painting, but his parents urged him to study medicine. He often visited the Soho Theatre to sketch the performers, which led to his trying acting, in 1861, as Louis XIV, in A Life's Revenge, billed as "Mr Kendall". [2]

Career

The Kendals in W. S. Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea, 1872 Kendals-Pygmalion-1871.jpg
The Kendals in W. S. Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea , 1872

Kendal continued at the Soho for two years and then played provincial theatres, including in Glasgow, where he performed for four years, with Charles Kean and others, until 1866. [3] He joined J. B. Buckstone's company at the Haymarket Theatre in London in 1866, where he performed in a wide variety of works, from burlesque to Shakespeare and was particularly admired for his comic roles. In 1869 he married the actress Madge Robertson, a sister of the dramatist T. W. Robertson. As "Mr. and Mrs. Kendal", their professional careers became inseparable, and he invariably acted opposite his wife. [2]

His roles included Colonel Blake in J. Palgrave Simpson's A Scrap of Paper, Charles Surface opposite his wife's Lady Teazle, Orlando to her Rosalind in As You Like It (1871), Jack Absolute to her Lydia Languish in The Rivals (1870), and Young Marlowe to her Kate Hardcastle. He was also Captain Beauclerc in Diplomacy , William in William and Susan, W. G. Wills's customized rewriting of Douglas Jerrold's Black-Eyed Susan, and Aubrey Tanqueray to his wife's Paula in Pinero's The Second Mrs Tanqueray . [2] He was Pygmalion to his wife's Galatea in W. S. Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea (1871), and the pair starred in the series of "fairy comedies" by Gilbert in the early 1870s, including The Palace of Truth (1870), Broken Hearts , The Wicked World (1873) and Broken Hearts (1875), as well as Gilbert's drama Charity (1874). [4]

Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1893. William Hunter Kendal, Vanity Fair, 1893-04-20.jpg
Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1893.

Kendal and his wife starred at and managed the Royal Court Theatre with John Hare. They then played at the Prince of Wales's Theatre under the management of the Bancrofts in Diplomacy by B. C. Stephenson and Clement Scott (1878, adapted from Sardou's Dora), among other plays. In 1879 they began a long association with John Hare as joint-managers of the St. James's Theatre, where they presented a large number of Arthur Wing Pinero plays, among many others. The Kendals restored the St. James's to popularity and helped to improve the respectability of the Victorian theatre, which had fallen into disrepute among the middle classes. They imposed a high moral code both on stage and behind the scenes. [2] Some of the Kendals' other notable successes in the 1880s included The Squire, Impulse, The Ironmaster and A Scrap of Paper. In 1888, however, the Hare and Kendal partnership ended. [2]

Later years

From that time, the Kendals chiefly toured. They made their American debut in A Scrap of Paper in 1889, and the success of their first tour in North America was repeated in several successive American seasons, where they spent most of the next five years. They continued to appear in popular plays without interruption until 1908, when they both retired. They had five children, but they became estranged from them. [2]

Kendal was a skilful businessman, manager and art collector, investing his share of the theatre's profits, after making sure to purchase some jewellery for his wife and a painting for himself. He assembled a fine collection of contemporary paintings, which the couple displayed in their homes. He was a long-time member of the Garrick Club, and his wife donated a portrait of him by Hugh Walpole to the club. He joined the Junior Carlton, Beefsteak, Arts, Cosmopolitan, and AA clubs. [2] He enjoyed fishing, shooting, cycling and riding. [3]

Kendal died in 1917, aged 74, in London.

Notes

  1. 1851 Census, England and Wales
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Foulkes, Richard. "Kendal, Dame Madge (1848–1935)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004, accessed 27 December 2009
  3. 1 2 Addison, Henry Robert et al., eds. Kendal, William Hunter Who's Who, (1907) vol. 59, p. 971 A. & C. Black, accessed 26 September 2014
  4. Stedman, passim

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Squire Bancroft</span>

Sir Squire Bancroft, born Squire White Butterfield, was an English actor-manager. He changed his name to Squire Bancroft Bancroft by deed poll just before his marriage. He and his wife Effie Bancroft are considered to have instigated a new form of drama known as 'drawing-room comedy' or 'cup and saucer drama', owing to the realism of their stage sets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arthur Wing Pinero</span> British playwright and actor (1855–1934)

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero was an English playwright and, early in his career, actor.

<i>The Second Mrs Tanqueray</i> 1893 stage play by Arthur Wing Pinero

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray is a problem play by Arthur Wing Pinero. It utilises the "Woman with a past" plot, popular in nineteenth century melodrama. The play was first produced in 1893 by the actor-manager George Alexander and despite causing some shock to his audiences by its scandalous subject it was a box-office success, and was revived in London and New York in many productions during the 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St James's Theatre</span> Former theatre in City of Westminster, London, England

The St James's Theatre was in King Street, St James's, London. It opened in 1835 and was demolished in 1957. The theatre was conceived by and built for a popular singer, John Braham; it lost money and after three seasons he retired. A succession of managements over the next forty years also failed to make it a commercial success, and the St James's acquired a reputation as an unlucky theatre. It was not until 1879–1888, under the management of the actors John Hare and Madge and W. H. Kendal that the theatre began to prosper.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">T. W. Robertson</span> English dramatist and innovative stage director

Thomas William Robertson was an English dramatist and stage director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Baldwin Buckstone</span> English actor and playwright

John Baldwin Buckstone was an English actor, playwright and comedian who wrote 150 plays, the first of which was produced in 1826.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madge Kendal</span> English actress and theatre manager (1848–1935)

Dame Madge Kendal, was an English actress of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, best known for her roles in Shakespeare and English comedies. Together with her husband, W. H. Kendal , she became an important theatre manager.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Hare (actor)</span> 19th/20th-century English actor

Sir John Hare, born John Joseph Fairs, was an English actor and theatre manager of the later 19th– and early 20th centuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Effie Bancroft</span> English actress and theatre manager

Marie Effie Wilton, Lady Bancroft (1839–1921) was an English actress and theatre manager. She appeared onstage as Marie Wilton until after her marriage in December 1867 to Squire Bancroft, when she adopted his last name. Bancroft and her husband were important in the development of Victorian era theatre through their presentation of innovative plays at the London theatres that they managed, first the Prince of Wales's Theatre and later the Haymarket Theatre.

<i>Pygmalion and Galatea</i> (play)

Pygmalion and Galatea, an Original Mythological Comedy is a blank verse play by W. S. Gilbert in three acts based on the Pygmalion story. It opened at the Haymarket Theatre in London on 9 December 1871 and ran for a very successful 184 performances. It was revived many times, including an 1883 production in New York starring Mary Anderson as Galatea, an 1883–84 revival at the Lyceum Theatre, again with Anderson, and an 1888 production at the Lyceum Theatre, with Julia Neilson as Cynisca.

<i>The Palace of Truth</i>

The Palace of Truth is a three-act blank verse "Fairy Comedy" by W. S. Gilbert first produced at the Haymarket Theatre in London on 19 November 1870, adapted in significant part from Madame de Genlis's fairy story, Le Palais de Vérite. The play ran for approximately 140 performances and then toured the British provinces and enjoyed various revivals even well into the 20th century. There was also a New York production in 1910.

<i>Charity</i> (play)

Charity is a drama in four acts by W. S. Gilbert that explores the issue of a woman who had lived with a man as his wife without ever having married. The play analyses and critiques the double standard in the Victorian era concerning the treatment of men and women who had sex outside of marriage, anticipating the "problem plays" of Shaw and Ibsen. It opened on 3 January 1874 at the Haymarket Theatre in London, where Gilbert had previously presented his 'fairy comedies' The Palace of Truth, Pygmalion and Galatea, and The Wicked World. Charity ran for about 61 performances, closing on 14 March 1874, and received tours and revivals thereafter.

Broken Hearts is a blank verse play by W. S. Gilbert in three acts styled "An entirely original fairy play". It opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London on 9 December 1875, running for three months, and toured the provinces in 1876. It was revived at the Savoy Theatre in 1882. Julia Gwynne played Melthusine. It was revived again in 1883, and yet again in 1888 starring Marion Terry in February and Julia Neilson in May, and also at Crystal Palace that year. There was also a New York City production at the Madison Square Theatre.

<i>Sweethearts</i> (play)

Sweethearts is a comic play billed as a "dramatic contrast" in two acts by W. S. Gilbert. The play tells a sentimental and ironic story of the differing recollections of a man and a woman about their last meeting together before being separated and reunited after 30 years.

<i>The Wicked World</i>

The Wicked World is a blank verse play by W. S. Gilbert in three acts. It opened at the Haymarket Theatre on 4 January 1873 and ran for a successful 145 performances, closing on 21 June 1873. The play is an allegory loosely based on a short illustrated story of the same title by Gilbert, written in 1871 and published in Tom Hood's Comic Annual, about how pure fairies cope with a sudden introduction to them of "mortal love."

<i>Galatea, or Pygmalion Reversed</i>

Galatea, or Pygmalion Re-Versed is a musical burlesque that parodies the Pygmalion legend, and specifically W. S. Gilbert's 1871 play Pygmalion and Galatea. The libretto was written by Henry Pottinger Stephens and W. Webster. The score was composed by Wilhelm Meyer Lutz.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marion Terry</span>

Marion Bessie Terry was an English actress. In a career spanning half a century, she played leading roles in more than 125 plays. Always in the shadow of her older and more famous sister Ellen, Terry nevertheless achieved considerable success in the plays of W. S. Gilbert, Oscar Wilde, Henry James and others.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caroline Hill</span>

Caroline Lucreza Brook Hill was an English actress. She began acting as a child in the company of Samuel Phelps and soon joined the company of J. B. Buckstone at the Haymarket Theatre. There she created roles in several new plays, including some by W. S. Gilbert, in whose plays she continued to act later in her career. She played at various London and provincial theatres in the 1870s. Hill married actor Herbert Kelcey in 1883, with whom she had begun to appear on stage. The couple played mostly in New York City in the 1880s, and, mostly in England, Hill continued to act through the 1890s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">May Fortescue</span>

May Fortescue was an actress, singer and actor-manager of the Victorian era and a protégée of playwright W. S. Gilbert. She was a member of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1881 to 1883, when she left the company following her engagement to a nobleman, young Arthur William Cairns, Lord Garmoyle. Cairns soon broke off the engagement under pressure from his friends, and Fortescue returned to the stage in leading roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Winifred Emery</span>

Winifred Emery, born Maud Isabel Emery, was an English actress and actor-manager of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was the wife of the actor Cyril Maude.

References