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Sir William S. Gilbert

Sir William S. Gilbert

Birth
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Death 29 May 1911 (aged 74)
Harrow, London Borough of Harrow, Greater London, England
Burial Stanmore, London Borough of Harrow, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 19257 · View Source
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Dramatist. Librettist. Born William Schwenck Gilbert in London, the only son of Anne Morris and William Gilbert III, a British Navy surgeon. He attended the Great Ealing School and King's College, Oxford, but left without a degree, joining the military as an artillery officer. He became redundant, however, with the end of the Crimean War, and left the army in 1857. He found employment as a clerk of the Privy Council at the Education ministry. In 1861, he began study for for a legal career, and in 1863, was called to the bar. At about the same time, he began contributing writings and drawings to a new humor journal, 'Fun.' These were then collected and published as 'The Bab Ballads' (1869), and 'More Bab Ballads '(1873). In October 1863, 'Uncle Baby' performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in London for seven weeks, became his first professionally produced play. This was followed by the pantomime 'Hush-a-By-Baby' and the burlesques 'Dulcemara' (1866) and 'The Pretty Druidess' (1869). He went into partnership with Arthur Sullivan in 1871, when the they collaborated on 'Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old,' which premiered at Christmas that year. The pair went on to collaborate on 'Trial by Jury '(1875), 'The Sorcerer ' (1877), 'H.M.S. Pinafore' (1878), 'The Pirates of Penzance' (1879), and 'Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride' (1881). With the partners' star in the ascendancy, much of his solo works, such as his drama 'The Ne'er Do Well' (1878) and his tragedy, 'Gretchen' (1879) were comparative flops. In 1881, the new Savoy Theatre was built to exclusively stage Gilbert & Sullivan productions, popularly known as Savoy Operas. They included 'Iolanthe' (1882), 'Princess Ida' (1884), 'The Mikado' (1885), 'Ruddigore; or, The Witch’s Curse' (1887), 'The Yeomen of the Guard' (1888), and 'The Gondoliers ' (1889). After the premier of 'The Gondoliers,' the partners' strained relationship, reportedly frayed by both ambition and parsimony, led to an estrangement. They would only work together twice more; on 'Utopia, Limited' (1893) and 'The Grand Duke' (1896). Gilbert went into semi-retirement, completing only four more plays in his last years; a melodrama, 'The Fortune Hunter' (1897); 'The Fairy's Dilemma' (1904); 'Fallen Fairies' (1909), a reworking of 'The Wicked World'; and 'The Hooligan' (1911). He was knighted in 1907 in recognition of his contributions to theatre. At age 74, he suffered a heart attack while swimming and drowned. A memorial in his honor was installed in 1915 on the south wall of the Victoria Embankment in London.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19257
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sir William S. Gilbert (18 Nov 1836–29 May 1911), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19257, citing St John the Evangelist Churchyard, Stanmore, London Borough of Harrow, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .