Following on from our other serendipitous encounter with a relative of the original printer of the Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite poster, here's a fascinating find... It's from the fantastic site The Skittish Library, which is full of glorious ephemera and tibits from days past – the kind of site where you can easily lose whole days to pleasurable browsing and curiosity.
This is a newspaper advertisement from The Manchester Mercury in 1809 which was 34 years before the Mr. Kite we know and love appeared on the poster that inspired the Beatles.
All is explained by The Skittish Library:
"I was befuddled until I found out that the 1843 Mr (William) Kite was the son of the 1809 Mr (James) Kite. James Kite was a circus proprietor, born around 1780, and apparently also produced benefits in his favour. Whatever that means. I always idly thought that “Being for the Benefit of…” meant it was helping Mr Kite out, which obviously doesn’t make much sense seeing as he was one of the mainstays of the show. But it turns out it was a standard 19th century phrase used to advertise performances.
At the bottom of the 1809 advert is a bit saying that for that night only, the clown Mr B. Kite will be appearing too. Another member of the family evidently.
It’s interesting how both the Mr Kites were performing through the decades, and putting on very similar shows too. And both in what was Lancashire, at the time. The 1809 show was held in “Bradbury’s New Amphitheatre” which was previously Manchester’s first Theatre Royal until it lost its royal patent in 1807 and had to be renamed. The 1843 show was held in a field in Rochdale, rather than Bishopsgate as mentioned in the song."
See the limited edition print
57 years ago today, on February 17 1967, The Beatles set out to record one of the most musically complex and avant-garde tracks of their illustrious career – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!