Kean, Edmund

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Kean was the son of a poverty-stricken actress, Ann Carey, who more or less abandoned him on the streets, and (probably) an architect's clerk, Edmund Kean, who committed suicide when he was 22.

Kean's first public performance was playing Cupid, when he was three or four. He was apparently good enough to attract the attention of several well-off sponsors, who collected the money to send him to boarding school, but he didn't like it and soon ran away to sea. He later returned to England and became a ward of his uncle, Moses Kean, who was in show business, then his aunt, Miss Tidswell, also an actress. He was also adopted by a family named Clarke, but fell out with them and ran away again. By this time he was still only 13 or 14.

Eventually he developed into the finest Shakespearean actor of his day, touring both sides of the Atlantic, and becoming wealthy in the process.

In Canada he became close to the Huron tribe, who adopted him under the name Alanienouidet. He married and had two children, one of whom was also a well-known actor. But his personal life was marked by an unhappy marriage and a scandalous affair with another man's wife, which affected his relationship with the public. He became dependent on drugs and alcohol, and finally collapsed on stage, playing opposite his son, and died two months later.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992)
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97
Walters, Andrew. "Edmund Kean" [Includes portrait]. Available at:


Uk/great Britain
18th Century
19th Century
Theater, Broadcasting, Cinema
Addiction or Abuse (drugs, Alcohol or Gambling)
Financial Problems, Poverty, Bankruptcy
Pre-school Years
Adopted as an Adult
Unmarried Mother, Single Parent (Mother or Father) Unable to Cope
Child Abandoned or Rejected by Birth Parent(s)
Honorific Adoptions
Uncles and Aunts, Parents' Uncles and Aunts
Family Friends or Acquaintances
Single Adopters or Fosterers
Wealthy, Famous, Noble or Divine Adoptive or Foster Families
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
Unmarried Mother
Both Parents Unable or Unwilling to Care for Child
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