Gilbert and Sullivan

Michael Ainger

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195147698
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849437 | DOI:
Gilbert and Sullivan

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“A Gilbert is of no use without a Sullivan”—with those words, W. S. Gilbert summed up his reasons for persisting in his collaboration with Arthur Sullivan despite the combative nature of their relationship. In fact, this book suggests that the pair's success is a direct result of their personality clash, as each partner challenged the other to produce his best work. After research into the D'Oyly Carte collection of documents, the author offers a detailed account of Gilbert and Sullivan's starkly different backgrounds and long working partnership. Having survived an impoverished and insecure childhood, Gilbert flourished as a financially successful theatre professional, married happily, and established himself as a property owner. His sense of proprietorship extended beyond real estate, and he fought tenaciously to protect the integrity of his musical works. Sullivan, the product of a supportive family who nourished his talent, was much less satisfied with stability than his collaborator. His creative self-doubts and self-demands led to nervous and physical breakdowns, but also propelled the team to break the successful mode of their earliest work to produce more ambitious pieces of theatre, including The Mikado and The Yeoman of the Guard. This double biography offers previously unpublished draft librettos and personal letters.

Keywords: W.S. Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan; D'Oyly Carte; The Mikado; Yeoman; draft librettos

Book.  528 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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Table of Contents

1874–1875 Trial by Jury in Gilbert and Sullivan


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