A very satisfactory biography of the eccentric, overgenerous, unbalanced 19th century actor, Edmund Kean, told with alertness, pace and sympathy. Bastard son of a lunatic and a strumpet, Kean's inheritance was to lead him from one misunderstanding to another. He married a woman older than himself, during his nine-year period as stroller actor. His ungovernable will to greatness accounted for his rise, since his appearance, lack of breeding and temperament were stumbling blocks. Eighteen years of glory alternated with slander and abuse, as failing health, tendency to drink, disastrous human relations dragged him down. He died at 42, penniless and alone.