John Martin: Painter, Engraver, Illustrator

Samantha PillingHistory

Installing John Martin paintings at the Millennium Gallery 1. Photo Museums Sheffield (small)

John Martin was an English painter, engraver, and illustrator. Known for his melodramatic religious-themed paintings, he served as an important inspiration for W.S. Gilbert’s work. Martin’s art was typically fantastic and imposing. He painted imposing landscapes, with minute figures and fantastic compositions. For some, he was known as the most important painter of his day – but his work wasn’t … Read More

Marie Litton – English actress and theatre manager

Samantha PillingHistory

Picture of old theatre

Born Mary Jessie Lowe in 1847, Marie Litton was an English actress who made her Haymarket debut playing Zayda, in Gilbert’s ‘The Wicked World’, in 1873. She went on to become a theatre manager who produced several of W.S. Gilbert’s plays. Marie Litton’s stage debut Marie Litton made her London stage debut playing the title character in Dion Boucicault’s play … Read More

The History of Music Hall

Samantha PillingHistory

Music Hall

Our music hall themed murder mystery dinners are incredibly popular. With many of the actors previously completing stints in the West End, the acting, murder and mayhem are always well received. But for those of you who haven’t heard of music hall, what exactly is it and why do we use that as the theme for our murder mystery evenings? … Read More

W.S. Gilbert’s fairy play: The Wicked World

Samantha PillingHistory

Wicked World

The Wicked World was W.S. Gilbert’s third fairy play. It was a dramatization of Gilbert’s own illustrated story ‘The Wicked World’, originally published in Tom Hood’s 1871 ‘Comic Annual’. This half joking dramatization took Gilbert several months to write. It centred on the action within a twenty-four-hour period, focusing on a fairyland scene floating above the world. Broken down into … Read More

November poppies: Their poignant history and interesting facts

Samantha PillingHistory

Amazing poppy field . Summer flowers .

  November is a month marked and remembered by poppies. In Britain, iconic red poppies are distributed by volunteers for the Royal British Legion every year. They are worn as a mark of respect for the fallen service men and women killed in conflict, during the two World Wars, as well as those who have fallen since. Wreathes made of … Read More

Annie Hall Cudlip

Samantha PillingHistory

Book

Better known by her pen name Mrs Pender Cudlip, Annie Hall Cudlip was considered one of the most prolific romantic fiction writers of the Victorian era. She was also an early sweetheart of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert. Annie Hall Thomas was born on 25th October 1838. The only daughter of George Thomas, a gentleman officer from County Cork and lieutenant … Read More

The hobbies and interests of W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingHistory

Old Library Books

W.S. Gilbert enjoyed indulging in his hobbies and interests, whilst at Grim’s Dyke. He not only found them creative and inspiring, they bought him closer to his family and allowed him to spend time in the grounds at Grim’s Dyke – something he loved dearly. Grim’s Dyke – one of Gilberts greatest hobbies Grim’s Dyke wasn’t only his home, it … Read More

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: A time when W.S. Gilbert was king

Samantha PillingHistory

R&G

Known for having a genuine affection for amateur actors, Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was keen on performing as an amateur actor himself. He would occasionally write short plays to be used as charity performances and to raise funds for local hospitals. Frequently, he’d encourage his friends and colleagues to become part of the performing cast and Gilbert himself, was also known to take on the odd acting … Read More

10 things you didn’t know about W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingHistory

Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was best known as a dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator. His Savoy Operas with Sir Arthur Sullivan made him renown, even to this day. However, there are some things that you may not have known about W.S. Gilbert – here’s 10 of the most interesting:  #1: W.S. Gilbert had the Dickensian habit of wearing a red … Read More

The Hooligan by W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Pentonville

Produced just four months before W.S. Gilbert’s death, this one-act play was a grim, yet powerful play. It was a study of a young condemned murderer, waiting in a prison cell for his execution and was inspired by the celebrated Crippen murder trial of 1910. One of Gilbert’s most successful serious dramas Gilbert focused on showing sympathy for the villain, … Read More