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W. S. Gilbert

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W. S. Gilbert

Person  Male  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.

1867 Gilbert married Lucy Turner.

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.

The nature of Gilbert's death qualifies him for an entry at Postman's Park. Plaques were still being erected in the 1930s so we wonder if he was ever considered, and if so, on what grounds he was rejected.

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This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
W. S. Gilbert

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Garrick Theatre

Theatreland - heart of the performing arts in London. Garrick Theatre Bui...

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Grim's Dyke

This house, designed by R. Norman Shaw, architect, for Frederick Goodall, pai...

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Grim's Dyke - Harrow Heritage

We can't explain the quotation marks on the inscription and think they are pr...

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W.S. Gilbert monument

1836 - W.S. Gilbert - 1911 Playwright & poet. His foe was folly & his...

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W. S. Gilbert's death

We thank Matt Brown of Londonist for the photo of the plaque, taken in about ...

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This section lists the memorials created by the subject on this page:
W. S. Gilbert

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Sir Arthur Sullivan

Leaning against the pedestal there is a crying woman. The guitar, score and ...

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