12 Annotations

First Reading

Charles Britton  •  Link

Kynaston is the main character in "Stage Beauty," to be released in October 2004. Hugh Bonneville plays Pepys in the film.

phil mroz  •  Link

Up until the early 1660's women's roles were played by men, Edward Kynaston was England's most celebrated leading lady, using his beauty and skill to make the great female roles his own. When Charles II eventually allowed real women to play women roles and the men could no longer do so, Kynaston becomes a virtual nobody.

Kate  •  Link

Actually, Kynaston continued to be a successful dramatic actor after the introduction of actresses, which would likely have happened with age anyway (that was often the story with boy actors).

Stage beauty is good, and references lots of historical accounts, but it emphasizes and dramatizes certain facts for the sake of narrative. For instance Kynaston had in fact played men various times before it became official decree that men could only play men (interestingly, I think the first English woman to play a male character was in 1667?).

Kate  •  Link

Sorry, the first English woman playing a man was actually in 1776, Sarah Siddon, as Hamlet.

Airyn  •  Link

actually, it was Mrs. Coleman in a private theater before/in 1656.

Airyn  •  Link

just kidding i misread the answer.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Edward Kynaston, engaged by Sir W. Davenant, in 1660, to perform the principal female characters: he afterwards assumed the male ones in the first parts of tragedy, and continued on the stage till the end of King William's reign. He died in 1712.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

Tho', as I have before observed, Women were not admitted to the Stage till the Restoration, yet it could not be so suddenly supplied with them, but that there was still a Necessity to put the handsomest young Men into Petticoats; which Kynaston was then said to have worn with Success particularly in the Part of Evadne, in the Maid's Tragedy, Arthiope in the Unfortunate Lovers, the Princess in the Mad Lover, Ismenia in the Maid in the Mill, Aglaura, &c. being Parts so greatly moving Compassion, that it has been disputed among the Judicious, whether any Woman could have more sensibly touched the Passions.
Kynaston at that time was so beautiful a Youth, that the Ladies of Quality prided themselves in taking him with them in their Coaches to Hyde-park, in his theatrical Habit, after the Play; which in those days they might have sufficient time to do, because Plays then, were us'd to begin at four a-Clock, the Hour that People of the same Rank are now going to Dinner, This Truth I had confirmed from his own Mouth, in his advanced Age. Indeed to the last of him, his Handsomeness was little abated; even at past sixty, his Teeth were all sound, white and even, as one would wish to see in a beautiful young Woman of twenty. He had something of a formal Gravity in his Mien, which was attributed to the stately Step he had been so early confined to, in a female decency. But that, in Characters of Superiority had its proper Graces; it misbecame him not in the part of Leon, in Fletcher's Rule a Wife, and Have a Wife, which he executed with a determined Manliness, and honest Authority, well worth the best Actor's Imitation. He had a piercing Eye, and in Characters of heroic Life, a quick imperious Vivacity in his Tone of Voice, that painted the Tyrant truly terrible.
---The History of the Stage. C. Cibber, 1742

Bill  •  Link

As mentioned above, all our favorite actors from this time period have roles in the film: Stage Beauty (2004). And Hugh Bonneville (of Dalton Abbey fame) plays our own SP.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Described by Samuel Pepys as "the prettiest woman in the whole house" and "the handsomest man", the rumor of the time had Edward Kynaston playing female roles off stage as well.
When already in his thirties, (1670s) lampoons circulated that made out Edward Kynaston to be the lover of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.[5] 5 Matt Cook, A gay history of Britain: love and sex between men since the Middle Ages - P. 67.

From : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edw…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

British History Online has this review of Edward Kynaston's career:
Old and New London: Volume 1. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.

Kynaston, ... was also a celebrity. As a handsome boy he had been renowned for playing heroines, and he afterwards acquired celebrity by his dignified impersonation of kings and tyrants. Betterton, the greatest of all the Charles II actors, also played occasionally at Dorset Gardens. Pope knew him; Dryden was his friend; Kneller painted him. He was probably the greatest Hamlet that ever appeared; and Cibber sums up all eulogy of him when he says, "I never heard a line in tragedy come from Betterton wherein my judgment my ear, and my imagination were not fully satisfied, which since his time I cannot equally say of any one actor whatsoever." The enchantment of his voice was such, adds the same excellent dramatic critic, that the multitude no more cared for sense in the words he spoke, "than our musical connoiseurs think it essential in the celebrated airs of an Italian opera."

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



  • Jan