William Kite

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A reproduction of the poster for Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal from 1843 that inspired the Beatles' song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!

William Kite was a 19th-century circus performer, best known as being the "Mr. Kite" from the Beatles song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"[1]


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."[2]

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.[2] A "Miss Kite", possibly a sister, also performed in Fanque's circus, in Burnley, in 1845.[2] His daughter, Elizabeth Ann Kite, later performed in the circus as an "Equestrienne". She married Eugene Gaertner, a member of another circus family.[2]

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" song[edit]

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 also notes that Mr. Kite was then "late of Wells's Circus."[3] Kite was a riding master for Pablo Fanque at this time[2] and, as documented by the poster, a tightrope walker as well.[3] Kite was also an all-around performer with John Sanger's Circus.[2]

In other media[edit]

A fictionalised version of Mr. Kite is portrayed as a ringmaster in a musical sequence from the 2007 film based on the music of the Beatles, Across the Universe. He is played by actor and comedian Eddie Izzard.[4]


  1. ^ Turner, Steve (1994) A Hard Day's Write. New York: HarperCollins.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Two Centuries of British Circus People Discussion". 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  3. ^ a b "The Hendersons Were Not There (and neither was Mr Kite)- Sheffield 1848". Chrishobbs.com. 1914-03-28. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  4. ^ Across the Universe at IMDB