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A biography and life work of william schwenk gilbert an english dramaticist

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert: A Brief Biography Philip V. Gilbert ] Often associated with his musical collaborator, the composer Sir Arthur Seymour SullivanSir William Schwenck Gilbert was a dramatist, published poet, and satirist before composing the lyrics for the operettas that have immortalized his name.

Born in London on 18 November 1836, the son of a retired naval surgeon, he traveled with his parents throughout Europe, and at the age of two was kidnapped and held for ransom by Italian bandits.

A biography and life work of william schwenk gilbert an english dramaticist

Returning with his family which included three sisters to London in 1849, he studied first at the Great Ealing School and then at King's Collegebut decided upon a career in the military as an artillery officer rather than continue studies at Oxford.

However, just as he finished his military training the Crimean War ended, and he found employment as a clerk of the Privy Council at the Educational Department 1857 to 1864. Although called to the bar in 1866, he could not attract enough wealthy clients to succeed financially, and switched to humorous freelance writing, making significant contributions to the magazines Punch and Fun from 1861.

In 1869, his various "Bab Ballads" were collected. The twenty-five-year partnership with Arthur Sullivan actually began in 1871, when the librettist and composer collaborated on Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old, which premiered on 23 December. The story is apocryphally told of how the death of Gilbert's composer necessitated the hiring of another, and so D'Oyly arranged for the pair to meet; two weeks later the operetta was ready for rehearsal in fact, they first met in the autumn of 1870 and produced Palace of Truth together that November.

Their next three works -- The Sorcerer 1877H. Of eleven dramatic works which Gilbert wrote during the 1880s, seven were scored by Sullivan. The quarrel that eventually destroyed the nineteenth-century theatre's most effective partnership began when Gilbert voiced his concern about the excessive cost of the carpets for the new playhouse.

Sir W.S. Gilbert

The rift continued unabated until 1893, after which they collaborated on only two significant works: Knighted by Edward VII in 1907, Gilbert died four years later when, aged 74, he attempted to rescue a drowning woman. Despite the continuing popularity and calibre of his work, Gilbert's verse does not usually appear in anthologies of nineteenth-century British verse, the exception being Lionel Trilling and Harold Bloom's Victorian Prose and Poetry Oxford, 1973which features under "Poetry of the Nineties" Bunthorne's song, "The Aesthete," from Patience.

References The Best of Gilbert and Sullivan. EMI Records, 1987, 2000. Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ed. Una McGovern and Melanie Perry. The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan.

A biography and life work of william schwenk gilbert an english dramaticist

The Bab Ballads, ed. Belknap and Harvard U. A Century of Scholarship and Commentary.