W. S. Gilbert
Person Born 18/11/1836 Died 29/5/1911
Playwright, lyricist & poet. Born 17 Southampton Street as William Schwenck Gilbert. The Savoy Operas were written by Gilbert, with Sullivan providing the music and Richard D'Oyly Carte providing the theatre and overall management. Over the years some resentment built up and finally exploded in the quarrel over a carpet. Carte had apparently charged the costs of a new foyer carpet to the expenses for the current show. Gilbert disputed this, expecting Sullivan to support him but Sullivan wanted to stay on good terms with Carte. The argument grew into a question of whether Carte was trustworthy with all their financial affairs and was eventually settled in court. The dispute ended the amicable relationship between the three men. Prior to it they had written and produced 11 extremely successful operettas. Surprisingly they did manage to work together again, producing two operettas but they were not in the same league as before.
Gilbert died of a heart attack while trying to save a guest swimming in the lake at his home, Grim's Dyke, in Harrow Weald. The guest was 17-year-old Ruby Preece who went on, as Patricia Preece, to become Stanley Spencer's second wife, the one represented, rather queasily, in the Tate’s 1937 'Double Nude Portrait: the Artist and his Second Wife'. Her eventful life (including a second rescue from drowning) is related at The art and vision of Stanley Spencer.