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Ian HP Info on William Kemp of 'Kemp's Jig' (14) Info on William Kemp of 'Kemp's Jig' 23 Apr 01


'Kemp's Jig' (sometimes 'Jigg') was written by anon. in honour of William Kemp, a professional jester who jested before Queen Elizabeth I. I know the following about him, does anyone know more or any good sources/leads? He was a member of William Shakespeare's troupe, whose role was to perform jigs and mimes to keep the audience entertained after the plays. Mr. Kemp is most remembered for his energetic dancing (I seem to remember it described as Morris dancing, though I wouldn't swear to it - anyone know?), which he once performed continuously for nine days, dancing all the way from London to Norwich. This became known as his "nine dais wonder", about which Kemp wrote a book (is this still available, anyone?), and for which the mayor of Norwich gave him a forty shilling a year pension for the rest of his life. The tune that bears his name is not a jig as we understand it today: in Shakespeare's time it simply meant a fair-paced and humorous melody. There is another tune in his honour called 'When Kemp Did Dance Alone'. The author of this tune (also known by the title of the words it was later attached to, 'Robin Hood, Maid Marian and Little John are gone') was Thomas Weekles, c. 1575-1623. He was an English madrigalist and church musician, described by a contemporary as "a drunckard and notorious swearer and blasphemer"!

I'd love to know more, especially about the book. Anyone?


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