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

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

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

Samantha PillingHistory


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

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

W.S. Gilbert – a leading figure for theatrical reform

Samantha PillingHistory

theatrical reform

Drawing of Priscilla German Reed in both the parts she played in an 1857 double bill: the title roles in The Flower-boy and The Scotch Fisher-girl In the 1870’s the theatres of London were full of sexually orientated burlesque shows and badly adapted French operettas. Theatre had fallen into disrepute and wasn’t seen as a suitable place for any underage … Read More