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William Gilbert

One Half of the Gilbert and Sullivan Team

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William Gilbert

Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer

  • 1836-1911
  • Real Name: Sir William Schwenck Gilbert
  • Birthday: November 18
  • Birthplace: England
  • Buried: Cremated, ashes buried at Church of St. John the Evangelist, Stanmore

William Gilbert was an English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator best known for the fourteen comic operas (known as the Savoy operas) produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan.

An avid amateur magician, Gilbert incorporated magic and magical effects into one of the Gilbert & Sullivan works, still performed today.

His operetta with a magic theme, The Sorcerer, opened on his birthday in 1877. The plot of The Sorcerer is based on "An Elixir of Love", a Christmas story that Gilbert wrote in 1876 for The Graphic magazine. The storyline revolves around Alexis, a young man who dreams of the power of love to level all social distinctions. He asks John Wellington Wells, the proprietor of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers, to brew a love potion. This causes everyone in the village to fall in love with the first person they see, resulting in the pairing of comically mismatched couples.


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