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One of the five actors from Lord Strange’s Men, listed in the First Folio, is William Kemp. He was a well-known comic actor, a celebrity of the time. We know that he was also a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, alongside Shakespeare and renowned actor Richard Burbage.
When the 4th Earl of Derby’s funeral took place at Lathom and Ormskirk in December 1593, a list of all the mourners in attendance was drawn up. This list includes the name of a ‘Master William Kempe’. Another clue, perhaps, that the actors close to Shakespeare were familiar with the Earl of Derby’s residences near Prescot and may have performed there.
On 26 January 1595, William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, married Elizabeth de Vere in Greenwich. The celebrations included a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This may have been the first time it was ever performed.
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