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

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

The Carl Rosa Opera Company

Samantha PillingHistory

palais garnier

Karl August Nicolaus Rose was born in Germany, on 22nd March 1842. A child prodigy and impresario, Rose (or Rosa, when he subsequently changed his name), was an important figure in the music industry. He played a huge role in illustrating the artistic and financial success of English opera, at time when it wasn’t considered a major player in the … 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

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

Top 10 facts about Grim’s Dyke

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Grim’s Dyke Hotel

Originally a country home, Grim’s Dyke has a wide and varied history, not only because of who owned the property over the years, but for who built it and what it subsequently became in later life. It’s one of the few country houses that survived war, recession and demolition – so it’s only fair that we honour that achievement, by … Read More

Nancy McIntosh: W.S. Gilbert’s unofficially adopted daughter

Samantha PillingHistory

Sunken Garden

Sir William and Lady Lucy Gilbert never had children of their own however they took a shine to Sir William’s latest (and last) protégée, Nancy McIntosh. Nancy became their unofficially adopted daughter, living with them at Grim’s Dyke until Lady Gilbert’s death in 1936. Nancy McIntosh was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1866. Her career as a concert singer began with … Read More

W.S. Gilbert – a man of principles and passions

Samantha PillingLatest News

WS Gilbert

W.S. Gilbert was often portrayed as a gruff, prickly, disagreeable man, something he was quick to play up to, however this wasn’t always accurate. He didn’t suffer fools easily and often spoke his mind, making him confrontational –something that lost him several friendships and often caused rifts between himself and Sullivan. But Gilbert was a man of principle and he could … 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