Ian Kelly is a multi-award winning historian, dramatist and actor, whose non-fiction works have all been adapted as stage, screen and even ballet projects. Currently filming in Paris: the first Season of Careme, for AppleTV directed by Martin Bourboulon, based on Ian’s best-selling Cooking for Kings, series written and created by Ian Kelly. Ian’s stage adaptation of his book, Mr Foote’s Other Leg ran in the West End (Theatre Royal Haymarket) after a record breaking run at Hampstead Theatre, directed by Sir Richard Eyre and starring Sir Simon Russell Beale. The original book, Mr Foote’s Other Leg, was named Theatre Book of the Year by the Society of Theatre Research when it was published in 2013. Ian’s adaptation with Northern Ballet of his previous biography of Casanova, named Outstanding Achievement in Dance by BroadwayWorld, sold out Sadlers Wells twice in 2017 and 2022 and tours throughout the USA in 2024, and has lead on to current commissions to adapt The Red Shoes (Philadelphia Ballet, Juliano Nunes choreographer) and Pride and Prejudice. The original Casanova biography received universally rapturous reviews and was named Sunday Times Biography of the Year in 2008. Ian was approached by Dame Vivienne Westwood to co-author her authorised biography, a book described by the Telegraph as ‘fabulously fetishistically brilliant.’ It has gone on to bestseller lists all over the world in the many languages into which is has already been translated.
Ian’s biography of Beau Brummell was described by Stephen Fry as ‘a magnificent, fantastic read: all the wonders of that incomparable age touched on with mastery’ and by The Times as ‘biography simply as good as it gets.’ It was adapted as a BBCTV film starring Hugh Bonneville, Matthew Rhys and James Purefoy. The US publication was timed to coincide with the Anglomania Fashion Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Kelly’s performance in the title role of Ron Hutchinson’s Beau Brummell, Off-Broadway – a New York premiere.
Ian Kelly’s first book, the New York Times bestseller Cooking for Kings: A Life of Antonin Careme the First Celebrity Chef, was published by Short Books in the UK and Walker Books in the US and the publication in New York coincided with the Off-Broadway premiere of his play, based on Careme’s life. Ian appears frequently on television and radio, often talking about food or theatre history.
As an actor, appearances include recently The Kings Man, as President Woodrow Willson, The Pitmen Painters at the NT, on Broadway and in the West End, the role of Hermione’s father in the last of the Harry Potter films, George III in his own play Mr Foote opposite Simon Russell Beale and tv and stage from Downton Abbey to Howards End, Drop the Dead Donkey to the Russian epic Voina.
Further projects include an LA based film project about the premier of Handel’s Messiah, stage plays about Shostakovich and Dr Johnson respectively, and a number of tv series in development co-writing with Julian Fellowes. Meanwhile a return to non fiction beckons with a commission with Picador Pan Macmillan for a new work on Shakespeare. Ian is represented by MMB for books and book rights.