Death of Edmund Kean

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Death of Edmund Kean

Postby Cath » Tue May 15, 2012 10:27 am

179 years ago today died Keats's favourite Shakespearean actor, Mr. Edmund Kean (March 17, 1789 - May 15, 1833).

Coleridge wrote of Kean that to see him act was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning :D .

His body weakened by excessive drinking and a dependency on the use of stimulants, Kean collapsed while playing Othello at Covent Garden in March and died at Richmond, Surrey aged 44. He seems to be buried beneath the floor at the south west corner of St. Mary Magdalene's Church in Richmond where there is a memorial to him:

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Re: Death of Edmund Kean

Postby Saturn » Wed May 16, 2012 5:54 pm

I imagine by modern standards Kean's acting would look very exaggerated and mannered, but he was the epitome of the Shakespearean actor of his day and deserves praise for that, and for almost starring in the aborted production of Keats and Brown's Otho.
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Re: Death of Edmund Kean

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon May 28, 2012 4:20 pm

Thanks Saturn for the pictures. Only 48 years old....so many died so young in the 1800's.
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Re: Death of Edmund Kean

Postby Saturn » Mon May 28, 2012 6:24 pm

That was a good innings in those days considering the state of medicine and hygiene at that time! Lucky was the man or woman who lived past 50!
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Re: Death of Edmund Kean

Postby Cath » Tue May 29, 2012 2:11 pm

It is my understanding that Kean was 44 when he died (1789 – 1833), not 48. The dates on memorial plaques etc. from the 19 century are notoriously unreliable since they generally relied on memory rather than documentation.

Apparently life expectancy in large British towns in the 1830s when Kean died was as shockingly low as 29 years (down from 35 on average in the 1820s, conditions having deteriorated):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/victorian_britain/social_conditions/victorian_urban_planning_01.shtml
"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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Re: Death of Edmund Kean

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue May 29, 2012 7:15 pm

Unreal Cath.... but then I remember that in the year 1900, in America - the average lifespan was only 47.3 years. So yeah, living to 50 was a bit hopeful. And I recall that dysentery was the 3rd leading killer of Americans in 1950! That wasn't too long ago folks...

Nonetheless, I am always amazed at how short life was for so many in the 1800's (and even today in some countries).
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Death of Edmund Kean

Postby Raphael » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:38 pm

Flora Thompson wrote in her memoir Lark Rise to Candleford that the country folk in the 1880s were mostly very healthy and many people lived to their 80s- there was a big difference in the health of the country folk and the town folk- today it's junk food poverty:

Very interesting

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ition.html
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what it is we are in what we make of you.

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