Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography

Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography

Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography

Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography

Synopsis

"A Gilbert is of no use without a Sullivan." With these 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, Michael Ainger suggests in Gilbert and Sullivan the success of the pair's work is a direct result of their personality clash, as each partner challenged the other to produce his best work. After exhaustive research into the D'Oyly Carte collection of documents, Ainger offers the most detailed account to date 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 theater 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 it also propelled the team to break the successful mode of their earliest work to produce more ambitious pieces of theater, including The Mikado and The Yeoman of the Guards. Offering previously-unpublished draft librettos and personal letters, this thorough double-biography will be an essential addition to the library of any Gilbert and Sullivan fan.

Excerpt

It is fifty years since the last joint biography of Gilbert and Sullivan based on original research was published. When Leslie Baily published The Gilbert and Sullivan Book in 1952, Dame Bridget D'Oyly Carte was still alive, and although Baily was given access to correspondence in her possession, the full D'Oyly Carte collection of letters and other documents did not then exist. Dame Bridget left her papers to the D'Oyly Carte Opera Trust and those papers now reside in the Theatre Museum, London. in writing Gilbert and Sullivan: a Dual Biography, I have made particular use of this collection as well as the other great repositories of Gilbert and Sullivan material to be found in the British Library, at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, and at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

I should like to record my thanks to the staff at all the libraries and archives at which I have worked in preparation of this book: the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; the British Library; the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale; the Family Records Centre, Islington; the Genealogical Society, London; the Guildhall Library, London; the Hampshire County Record Office, Winchester; the London Metropolitan Archives; the New York Public Library; the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; the Principal Registry of the Public Records Office, Somerset House (now in Holborn); the Public Record Office, Kew; the Surrey County Record Office, Kingston-upon-Thames; the Theatre Museum, Covent Garden; the Victoria and Albert Museum Archives; the Westminster City Archives; and the Wiltshire County Record Office, Trowbridge. I owe particular thanks to Adrian Blunt, deputy librarian of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple; to Ian Martin, general manager, and Mary Gilhooly, archivist, of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company; and especially Catherine Haill, curator of the D'Oyly Carte collection at the Theatre Museum for her unfailing patience and kindness. Grateful thanks are due to my editors at Oxford University Press: Maribeth Anderson Payne, Robert Milks, and Ellen Welch. My thanks also are due to those who have helped me at various stages: John Dodd, Peter Joslin, the late John McCauley, the late Joe McCauley, Jo McNamee, Bernadette O'Mahony, Jonathan Pyefinch; and to Elizabeth Menezes, Camilla Cutts, and David Menezes, whose encouragement and enthusiasm to promote the book, even before it was completed, are much appreciated.

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