William Kempe (died 1603?), also spelled Kemp, was an English actor and dancer best known for being one of the original actors in William Shakespeare's plays. Nothing is known of his early life. After his rise to fame as part of Lord Chamberlain's Men, Kempe returned to solo work in 1599. In 1600, he undertook what he would later call his "Nine Days Wonder", in which he morris danced from London to Norwich (a distance of over a hundred miles) in a journey which took him nine days spread over several weeks, often amid cheering crowds.
The circumstances of Kempe's death are unclear. Several mentions are made him until 1602, and the death of a man named Kempe is recorded in 1603, after which there are no records of Will Kempe's doings.
He was generally an agreeable character and was counted as a friend by Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Lope de Vega. However, his fondness for unsavoury humour and practical jokes led to periodic quarrels with Richard Burbage, and on one occasion Kemp got perilously close to provoking George Rowley to violence.