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William Schwenck Gilbert

William Schwenck Gilbert (1836-1911), British humorist and librettist. A barrister by profession, Gilbert became well known for his humorous verse, collected and published in 1869 as The Bab Ballads. In 1871 he met the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, the first successful result of their collaboration being the comic opera Trial by Jury (1875). Sullivan’s tuneful and light-hearted music provided the perfect match for Gilbert’s witty and satirical verse. Subsequent major successes included HMS Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), and The Mikado (1885). The personal relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan was often stormy, owing to their very different temperaments; they had a famous quarrel over the price of a new carpet for the Savoy Theatre. Their last two operas, Utopia Limited (1893) and The Grand Duke (1896), were less successful.

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