John Mitchell Kemble
John Mitchell Kemble (2 April 1807 – 26 March 1857), English scholar and historian, was the eldest son of Charles Kemble the actor and Maria Theresa Kemble. He is notable for his major contribution to the history of the Anglo-Saxons and philology of the Old English language.
He received his education partly from Dr Richardson, author of the Dictionary of the English Language, and partly at the grammar school of Bury St Edmunds, where he obtained in 1826 an exhibition to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a member of the Cambridge Apostles. As a law student, his historical essays were well received but he "would not follow the course of study prescribed by the university and was, moreover, fond of society and of athletic amusements", which caused the deferral of his graduation in 1829.:p.369
The bent of his studies was turned more especially towards the Anglo-Saxon period through the influence of one the brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm, under whom he studied at Göttingen (1831). His thorough knowledge of the Teutonic languages and his critical faculty were shown in his Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf (1833-1837), Über die Stammtafeln der Westsachsen (Munich 1836), Codex diplomaticus aevi Saxonici (London 1839-1848), and in many contributions to reviews; while his History of the Saxons in England (1849; new ed. 1876), though it must now be read with caution, was the first attempt at a thorough examination of the original sources of the early period of English history.
He was editor of the British and Foreign Review from 1835 to 1844; and from 1840 to his death was examiner of plays. In 1857 he published State Papers and Correspondence Illustrative of the Social and Political State of Europe from the Revolution to the Accession of the House of Hanover.
His Horae Ferales, or Studies in the Archaeology of Northern Nations, was completed by Dr Robert Gordon Latham, and published in 1864.
Marriage and death
He married Nathalie Auguste, the daughter of Professor Amadeus Wendt of Göttingen, in about 1836. Though they had two daughters and a son, the marriage was not a happy one and they were living apart by about 1850.:p.370 The elder daughter, Gertrude (b. 1837) married Sir Charles Santley, the singer and died in 1882.:p.371
- Kemble J. M. The Saxons in England, Vol. 1 1848 edn., at the Internet Archive
- Kemble J. M. The Saxons in England, Vol. 2 1848 edn., at the Internet Archive
- Kemble J. M., Birch W. de G. (ed.) The Saxons in England, Vol. 1 1876 edn., at the Internet Archive
- Kemble J. M., Birch W. de G. (ed.) The Saxons in England, Vol. 2 1876 edn., at the Internet Archive
- Works by John Mitchell Kemble in the Berlin State Library
- John Mitchell Kemble Collection at Goucher College
- Kemble at Anglo-Saxon Charters website