'As creditable a list of clever and good fellows as the history of modern clubs can show'
SARGENT, John Singer, STOKER, Bram, LANG, Andrew et al. Signed Menu for "The Kinsmen" Dinner on Sunday 9th May 1897.
2 loose leaves, each typed on one side with signatures of the diners on the back. The dinner was held at the Willis Restaurant on Sunday 9th May 1897 and consisted of 9 courses. Preserved in a custom-made cloth flapcase with leather label.
There are 18 signatories on the menu, some of whom have signed the menu twice. Those dining that evening include:
ALLHUSEN, Henry x 2, Socialite
ANDERSON, William x 2, Surgeon and Japanese art collector
CLARKE, George Sydenham, Diplomat
HAY, John, US Ambassador
HENSCHEL, Georg x 2, Musician and conductor
HUNTER, Colin, Artist
LANG, Andrew, Writer
LANKESTER, E.Ray, Zoologist
MACMILLAN, Frederick, Publisher
MAXWELL, Sir Herbert E, Writer, politician
PADGETT, William, Artist
ROBERTSON, Graham, Artist and patron
SARGENT, John Singer x 2, Artist
SCOONES, W Baptiste, Editor
STOKER, Bram, Writer
TROWER, H Seymour x 2, Japanese art collector
+ 2 indecipherable names.
Laurence Hutton in his "Talks in a Library" relates: "The initial idea of 'The Kinsmen' was the American actor Lawrence Barrett's. He had long contemplated the foundation of a little club upon the lines of the 'Green Room' or the 'Beefsteak', to which only professionals 'of the right sort' should be admitted. He wanted to bring together the players, the writers, the sculptors, the painters, into some simple organisation which would be select and fraternal. There were to be no dues, no fees, no club-house, no constitution, no by-laws, no officers, 'no nothing' but good fellowship and good times. We were to breakfast or dine, or lunch, or sup, together; each member was to bring to each symposium a guest of his own choosing and his own profession, whom he felt would be acceptable to the other members - the simple presence of such a guest making him a member of the club itself without any other form of choice or ballot; and in this way was the society to be increased with no limit except that of proper fitness of congeniality and talent."
The first meeting was in New York in early 1882. The first London meeting was held at The Blue Posts Tavern in June 1882. Over the years members included Mark Twain, Henry Irving, who presented each Kinsman with a perpetual free pass to any theatre in which he might be playing, Randolph Caldecott, George du Maurier and Sir Arthur Sullivan.
This menu is dated 17 years after the club's inception and includes, as Hutton proudly states, "as creditable a list of clever and good fellows as the history of modern clubs can show".