James Kenney

Criticism

Life
?1780-1849; family moved to London c.1800; his father was the mgr. of Boodle’s Club; wrote a famous act farce, Raising the Wind (1803; his other plays incl. a musical farces Too Many Cooks (1805) and Turn Out! (1812); also a 5-act tragedy The Sicilian Vespers (1840); his son, a translator and librettist, was a schoolboy and lifelong friend of Boucicault, who was influenced by his friend’s father. [See Richard Fawkes, Dion Boucicault, 1977, p.14.] CAB ODNB PI JMC DBIV RAF TAY OCIL

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Commentary
Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1839’ [chap.], in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (Cambridge UP 2006), calls Kenney an author of farces, burlettas and melodramas associated with the illegitimate theatre [viz., the lesser theatres in the period of the theatrical monopoly associated with the Royal charter] and cites his Matrimony (1804), a ‘petit opera’ that contains the stage-Irish character Mr Teddy Fitzrallaghan Macmullihoch O’Clogherty (citing Morash, A History of the Irish Theatre, Cambridge 2002; as infra.)

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Criticism
See Christopher Morash, A History of the Irish Theatre, 1601-2000 (Cambridge 2002).

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References
Dictionary of National Biography 1780-1849; dramatist; successful farce, Raising the Wind (1803); Turn Him Out [var. Turn Out! RAF](1812); pop. drama, Sweethearts and Wives [2 act com.] (1823); many successful farces and comedies, friend of Lamb and Rogers.

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D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); Society, poem, in two parts, with Other Poems (Lon. 1803); Valdi, or the Libertine’s son, a poem (London 1820); also Matrimony, a petit opera, 2 acts, in prose with two songs (2nd ed. London 1804); Too Many Cooks (1805), musical farce; False Alarms, com. op. (1807); Oh! This Love, comic opera (1808; not printed); Turn Out, mus. farce (London 1812); Breaking or the Prince’s Present, com. with songs (London 1821); The Alcaid, com. op. (1824); Benyowsky, or the Exiles of Kamschtka, op. play (London 1826); Masanielo, grand op. (Lond 1831); Fighting by Proxy, burletta (London 1835); Hernani, or the Pledge of Honour, dram. tran from Victor Hugo [Lacy’s collection of plays] (London [n.d]); The Sicilian Vespers, hist. trag. in 5 acts and verse (London 1840); numerous dramatic pieces include famous farce, Raising the Wind (1803); b. Ireland, c.1780; left banking house of Herries, Farquhar and Co.; poems in The Gem, 1829-32, and Foreget-Me-Not, 1829-31; m. widow Thomas Holcroft (author of The Road to Ruin); suffered nervous affliction in later years, and msitaken for escaped lunatic; disparaging refs. in Byron’s English Bards and Scottish Reviewers, and mentions in Russell’s life of Thomas Moore.

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Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (1946), James Kenney 1780-1849; Prolific dramatist [ODNB]; Raising the Wind (CG 5 Nov. 1803) 1803; Matrimony, op. farce (DL 20 Nov. 1805) 1805, mus. by King; False Alarms or My Cousins, com. op. (DL 12 Jan 1807) 1807, mus. Braham and King; Ella Rosenberg (DL 19 Nov. 1807) 1807; The Blind Boy (CG 1 Dec. 1807) 1807; The World, com. (DL 31 Mar 1808) 1808; Oh This Love or The Masqueraders, com op. (Lyceum 12 June 1810), mus. King; Turn Him Out!, op. farce (Lyceum 7 Mar 1812) 1812; Love, Law and Physic, farce (CG 20 Nov. 1812), 1821; Debt and Creditor, com. (CG 20 Apr 1814)1814; The Fortune of War, Larpent MS (CG 17 May 1815); The Portfolio or the Family of Anglade (DL 3 1 Feb 1816) 1816; The Touchstone or the World as it Goes, com. (DL 3 May 1817) 1817; A House Out At the Windows, op. farce (DL 10 May 1817) 1817; A Word to the Ladies (CG 17 Dec. 1818), Larpent, mus. by Corri; Match-breaking or The Prince’s Present, op. farce (Hay 3 July 1822); John Buzzby or A Day’s Pleasure (Hay 3 July 1822) 1822; Sweethearts and Wives, com. op. (Hay 7 July 1823) 1823, mus. by Whitaker, Nasthan, T. Cooke, and Perry, ran 51 nights. Also The Alcaid or The Secrets of Office, com. op. (Hay 10 Aug, 1824); The Wedding Present (DL 28 Oct 1825) Lacy Collection, mus. by Horn; Benyowsky or The Exiles of Kamschatka (DL 16 Mar 1826) 1826, based on Kotzebue, mus. Stevenson, Cooke, Horn, Livius, and Kelly; Thirteen to the Dozen, op. farce (Hay, 28 July 1826) Lacy Collection, from French farce; The Green Room, com. (CG 18 Oct. 1826) Lacy Collection; Spring and Autumn or the Bride of Fifty, com. (Hay 6 Sept 1827), Dicks 708; The Illustrious Stranger, or Married and Buried (DL 1 Oct. 1827), 1827, with J. Millingen, mus. by Nathan; Forget and Forgive or Rancontres in Paris, farce (DL 21 Nov. 1827, Lacy Collection; Frolics in France (DL 15 Mar 1828, revision; Peter the Great (CG 21 Feb 1829), doubtful authorship; Masaniello, op. (CG 4 May 1829), adapt. from Scribe’s La Muette de Portici (Paris 1828); The Pledge, or Castilian Honour, trag. (DL 8 Apr 1831); The Irish Ambassador, farce (CG 17 Nov. 1831), Dicks 920; The Self-Tormentor or Whims and Fancies, farce (DL 16 Feb 1832), Lacy Collection; Fighting by Proxy, burletta (Olymp. 9 Dec. 1833) 1835, burletta, adpt. from More Frightened than Hurt by D. Jerrold; Dancing for Life, burletta (Olymp. 16 Jan 1834); A Good-Looking Fellow, farce (CG 17 April 1834) 1834, with A Bunn; The King’s Seal, com. (DL 10 Jan. 1835) 1835, with Gore; Not a Word!, burletta (Olymp., 26 Jan 1835) Lacy Collection; The Spirit of the Bell, com. op. (Eng. Op. Hse., 8 June 1835) Lacy Collection, mus. by GH Rodwell; Hush or Secrets at Court, com. (DL 27 Dec 1836) Lacy Collection; Macintosh and Co., farce (CG 21 Feb 1838); Barbara or The Bride of a Day, op. (CG, 3 Nov. 1838) Lacy Collection; The Sicilian Vespers, trag. (Surrey, 21 Sept. 1840) 1840, adpt. from C. Delavigne’s Le Vepres Siciliennes; Love’s Extempore, farce (Hay 23 Nov. 1841), Dicks 733; Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp, burlesque (Lyc. 1844), with AR Smith; Infatuation, com. (Princess, 1 May, 1845), Lacy Collection; Up the Flue or What’s in the Wind, farce (Adelphi 121 May, 1846), with Boucicault; Herani or the Pledge of Honour, trans. Victor Hugo. Slighted by Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, ‘.. while Kenney’s World - ah, where is Kenney’s wit? -/Tires the sad gallery, lulls the listless pit.’ NOTE that Justin McCarthy, Irish Lit., gives extract from Raising the Wind.

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John Cooke, ed., Dublin Book of Irish Verse 1728-1909 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1909); bio-dates 1780-1849; ‘The Green Leaves all turn Yellow’.

Geoffrey Taylor, Irish Poets of the 19th c. (1951), calls him a prolific and successful dramatist who also wrote poems.

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. 2; 1780-?1849; prolific, popular, but mediocre, of whom Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (565), says, ‘Kenney’s”World” -Ah, where is Kenney’s wit?/Tires the sad gallery, lulls the listless pit.’ b. Ireland, soon went to English, m. widow of Thomas Holcroft. See G. C. Boase. All accounts agree on eccentricity of author, who suffered from a nervous disease. RAF lists two volumes of Poetry (Society, a poem in 2 parts, with Other Poems, London: Longman 1803, viii+172pp.; and Vaidi, or the Libertine’s Son, a poem, ibid., 1820, vi+128pp.); also some forty dramatic works, of which one in collaboration with A. Bunn and another in collaboration with Dion Boucicault (Up the Flue or, What’s in the Wind?; unpubl, original title Felo de Se); and plays. See also Rafroidi, idem, Vol 1 (1980), The most interesting [English] adaptation of Victor Hugo is no doubt that of Hernani, made in 1831 by James Kenney, which CE Engel praised in Revue de Litterature Comparée (July 1834); called The Pledge, or Castilian Honour, after subtitle L’Honneur Castillan, it was performed before the queen. [46]

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Notes
Burton lists Raising the Wind; Spring and Autumn, or Married for Money; Sweethearts and Wives [2 act com., 1823]. NOTE poss. confusion with his son.

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