Kite came from a circus family. He was born in Lambeth, London, about 1825. His father, James Kite, was a circus proprietor, and the first to visit Knott Mill Fair, Manchester, in 1806. James Kite formed his own company around 1810, traveling as "Kite's Pavilion Circus."
William Kite was a performer at Wells's Circus from 1842 to 1843 and in Pablo Fanque's circus in Rochdale from 1843 to 1845. A "Miss Kite", possibly a sister, also performed in Fanque's circus, in Burnley, in 1845. His daughter, Elizabeth Ann Kite, later performed in the circus as an "Equestrienne". She married Eugene Gaertner, a member of another circus family.
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" song
A broadside poster advertising Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal show in Rochdale, dated February 14, 1843, inspired, and provided many of the lyrics for, The Beatles’ song, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" The poster shows Kite balancing, head down, on top of a pole, playing a trumpet. The poster also notes that Mr. Kite was then "late of Wells's Circus." Kite was a riding master for Pablo Fanque at this time and, as documented by the poster, a tightrope walker as well. Kite was also an all-around performer with John Sanger's Circus.
The full text of the original poster is:
PABLO FANQUE'S CIRCUS ROYAL, TOWN-MEADOWS, ROCHDALE. Grandest Night of the Season! AND POSITIVELY THE LAST NIGHT BUT THREE! BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE, (LATE OF WELLS'S CIRCUS) AND MR. J. HENDERSON, THE CELEBRATED SOMERSET THROWER! WIRE DANCER, VAULTER, RIDER, &c. On TUESDAY Evening, February 14, 1843. Mssrs. KITE & HENDERSON, in announcing the following Entertainments assure the Public that this Night's Production will be one of the most splendid ever produced in this town, having been some days in preparation. Mr. KITE will, for this night only, introduce the CELEBRATED HORSE, ZANTHUS! Well known to be one of the best Broke Horses IN THE WORLD!!! Mr. HENDERSON will undertake the arduous Task of THROWING TWENTY-ONE SOMERSETS, ON THE SOLID GROUND. Mr. KITE will appear, for the first time this season, On the Tight Rope, When Two Gentlemen Amateurs of this Town will perform with him. Mr. HENDERSON will, for the first time in Rochdale, introduce his extraordinary TRAMPOLINE LEAPS AND SOMERSETS! Over Men & Horses, through Hoops, over Garters, and lastly through a Hogshead of REAL FIRE! In this branch of the profession Mr. H challenges THE WORLD! For particulars see Bills of the day. JONES & CROSSKILL, PRINTERS AND BOOKSELLERS, YORKSHIRE STREET, ROCHDALE.
In the media
A fictionalised version of Mr. Kite is portrayed as a ringmaster in a musical sequence from the film based on the music of The Beatles, Across the Universe. He is played by actor and comedian Eddie Izzard.
- Turner, Steve (1994) "A Hard Day's Write." New York: HarperCollins.
- "Two Centuries of British Circus People Discussion". 2007. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
- "The Hendersons Were Not There (and neither was Mr Kite)- Sheffield 1848". Chrishobbs.com. 1914-03-28. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
- Across the Universe at IMDB
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