Our Boys actress Kate Bishop

Samantha PillingHistory

Victorian Theatre Curtains

Kate Bishop was born in Bristol, 1848. She was a child actress, acting from the age of 15. Although her most famous stage role was as Violet Melrose in H.J. Byron’s Our Boys, she also acted in a trio of new plays – written by W.S. Gilbert. Bishop had a run of Gilbert’s plays during 1871 – acting in Randall’s … Read More

William Gilbert – an early influence on W.S. Gilbert?

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Pen Nib

In 1861, a 26-year-old W.S. Gilbert began supplementing his income by writing illustrated stories, poems and articles of his own. During this period, his series of illustrated poems, the ‘Bab Ballads’ became increasingly popular. However, W.S. Gilbert also illustrated the poems and short stories for others during this period – including those of his father, William Gilbert. Although William Gilbert … Read More

W.S. Gilbert – Stage Director

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Theatre sign

W.S. Gilbert wrote several plays and burlesques in his early years, especially whilst with the German Reed’s. It allowed him to develop his personal style and to control all aspects of production. However, it was in the following years that he honed his knowledge of stage direction, by following the likes of James Planché and Tom Robertson. James Planché A … Read More

Thespis – the first collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

inside an old theatre

Thespis was a Christmas entertainment operatic extravaganza, produced by John Hollingshead. He bought together W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan for their first collaboration. John Hollingshead has been the lessee of the Gaiety Theatre since 1868, successfully producing several musical burlesques and operettas. It was also the largest of five London theatres known to show the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, … Read More

The Gaiety Theatre

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Gaiety Theatre

The Gaiety Theatre was built in 1864, on the former site of the Lyceum Theatre. Originally established as the Strand Musick Hall, it took four years to become known as the Gaiety Theatre. John Hollingshead Under the management of John Hollingshead, the Gaiety Theatre was known for musical burlesque, pantomime and operetta performances. It was also synonymous with being a … Read More

W.S. Gilbert, writer of Victorian burlesque?

Samantha PillingHistory

Victorian Lady

W.S. Gilbert’s first solo success came in 1866. It came about after his friend and mentor, Tom Robertson, was asked to write a pantomime but declined, due to the timescale – two weeks. He recommended Gilbert. The pantomime ‘Dulcamara, or the little duck and the great quack’ was the end result. The pantomime was a Victorian burlesque, based on Gaetano … Read More

W.S. Gilbert and ‘An Old Score’

Samantha PillingHistory

savoy operas

Following the success of his recent opera burlesques, W.S. Gilbert wrote his first full-length prose – ‘An Old Score’.  Described as a 3-act comedy-drama, it was based in part, on his previous 1967 short story, ‘Diamonds’ and on episodes in the lives of Irish engineer and railway contractor William Dargan, and banker John Sadlier. ‘An Old Score’ opened at the … Read More

The Victorian Apiary

Samantha PillingHistory, The Gardens

victorian apiary

One of the more unusual features of any well-to-do Victorian estate was an apiary, and Grim’s Dyke was no exception. W.S. and Lady Gilbert had (along with a vinery, farms and an orchard), an apiary at Grim’s Dyke – but what is an Apiary and why was it so popular? What is an Apiary? An apiary is a bee yard … Read More

The Bab Ballads

Samantha PillingHistory

Old Library Books

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert’s impressive creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, along with numerous stories and poems. These included poems of light verse, that later became known as the ‘Bab Ballads’. The Bab Ballads The Bab Ballads were originally written for the magazine, ‘Fun’. In 1861 ‘Fun’ was launched, under the editorship of H J Byron. Gilbert, looking to supplement his … Read More

How much was W.S. Gilbert financially worth?

Samantha PillingHistory

croquet lawn

W.S. Gilbert was obviously a man of some considerable wealth. He also illustrated his financial prowess, looking to invest his money into property – ensuring he could leave a lasting legacy for both Lady Gilbert and Nancy McIntosh after his death. It was during, what was considered to be the peak years of the Gilbert & Sullivan collaboration, that W.S. … Read More