Potted History

"Take all the remarkable people in history, Rattle them off to a popular tune."

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1836 - 1859 | 1860 - 1869 | 1870 - 1879 | 1880 - 1899 | 1900 - 1914

1836 - 1859

1836: Frederic Clay, composer and collorator with Gilbert in several instances, is born in Paris on August 3rd

1836: William Schwenck Gilbert born, on November 18th, in the Strand.


1839: Mary Francis Ronalds "Fanny" is born on August 23rd. Mrs Ronalds is Sullivan's friend and companion through most of his latter life.


1842: Arthur Seymour Sullivan born, on May 13th, in Bolwell Terrace.


1844: Harriet Everard, who created the roles of Mrs Partlet and Little Buttercup, is born in London on March 12th.

1844: Emma Howson, who created the role of Josephine, is born in Hobart, Tasmania, on March 28th.

1844: Richard D'Oyly Carte born, on May 3rd, in Lambeth, London.

1844: Gilbert attends the Western Grammar School at Brompton.


1846: Gilbert attends the Great Ealing School. He becomes head boy and writes plays, acts in them and paints sets.

Historic Note:
At some time during his years at Great Ealing School, Gilbert caught typhoid fever and had his head shaved. From this came his first known verses, written in Paris, where he had been taken to recuperate.
When the horses, white with foam,
Drew the Empress to her home
From the place whence she did roam,
The Empress she did see
The Gilbert Familee,
To the Emperor she said:
'How beautiful the head
Of that youth of gallant mien,
Cropped so neat and close and clean -
Though I own he's rather lean.'
Said the Emperor: 'It is!
And I never saw a phiz
More wonderful than 'is'

1846: Rosina Brandram, the original creator of such roles as Lady Blanche, Katisha and Dame Carruthers is born in London on July 2nd.


1847: Richard Temple, the original creator of such roles as Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, the Mikado and Sir Roderic Murgatroyd is born, Richard Baker Cobb, in London on March 2nd. He made his début at the Crystal Palace in 1872.

1847: George Grossmith, character actor with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, is born in Penge on December 3rd.


1849: Francois Arsene Cellier, the D'Oyly Carte musical director from 1878 to 1913 is born in London on December 14th


1852: Helen Lenoir (later Mrs D'Oyly Carte) is born, on May 12th, in Wigtown, Scotland.

1852: Durward Lely, the original creator of such roles as the Duke of Dunstable, Nanki-Poo and Richard Dauntless is born in Arbroath on September 2nd


1853: Jessie Bond, the original creator of such roles as Hebe, Pitti-Sing and Mad Margaret, is born in Camden Town, London on January 10th

1853: Rutland Barrington, the original creator of such roles as Grosvenor, Booh-Bah and Sir Despard Murgatroyd, is born, George Rutland Fleet, in Penge on January 15th.

1853: In March Gilbert registers as an Occasional Student at King's College, University of London. In September he is admitted to the Department of General Literature and Science as a regular student.


1854: Sullivan enters the choir of the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.


Sullivan as Choirboy

1855: Gilbert takes a B.A. degree at the University of London.


1856: Sullivan wins the first great prize of his career - the Mendelssohn Scholarship.

1856: Sullivan commences studies at the Royal Academy of Music.


1856: Gilbert takes the job as a clerk in the Education Department of the Privy Council at £120 a year. He hates the job.


1857: Sullivan leaves the Chapel Royal, his voice having broken.

1857: Charles Manners, who created the role of Private Willis, is born Southcote Mansergh in London on December 27th.


1858: Sullivan's first orchestral work, the Overture in D minor, is performed at the Royal Academy of Music, on July 13th. The score has since been lost.

1858: Sullivan's Mendelssohn Scholarship is extended so that he may pursue studies in Leipzig.

1858: In Leipzig, Sullivan meets Grieg, a fellow student who is a year his junior.


1859: Sullivan's Scholarship is extended for another year at Leipzig.

1859: Gilbert voluneers for the Civil Service Rifles - which is, as the names suggests, a home guard. He is soon made Lieutenant. He later joins the West Yorkshire Militia.

1859: Ilka von Pálmay, the original creator of the role of Julia Jellicoe in The Grand Duke, is born Ilona Pálmay Petráss, in Hungary on September 21st, 1859. She retires from the stage in 1929 and dies in 1945.

Gilbert in the W.Y. Militia

On to the next Decade To the Operas