List of W. S. Gilbert dramatic works

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Sir William Schwenck Gilbert by Frank Holl (1886)

The dramatist and author W. S. Gilbert wrote approximately 80 dramatic works during his career, as well as light verse, short stories and other works. He is best remembered for his series of 14 libretti for his joint operatic works with the composer Arthur Sullivan, but many of his other dramatic works were popular successes.[1]


In the following list, the title of each work appears in the first column, along with any further information (such as the source of an adaptation). The genre appears in the second column, and if the piece had music, the composer's name is listed in parentheses. The theatre and date of first performance appear in the third and fourth columns. All theatres were in London, unless otherwise stated. The works are listed in the approximate order of composition. (In a few cases, the first performance was many years after the work was first published.)

Title Genre Theatre Date
Uncle Baby One-Act Comedietta Lyceum Theatre 1863-10-31
Ruy Blas [published in Warne's Christmas Annual, 1866, based on the Victor Hugo drama, Ruy Blas.] Burlesque unperformed N/A
Hush-a-Bye, Baby, on the Tree Top; or, Harlequin Fortunia, King Frog of Frog Island, and the Magic Toys of Lowther Arcade [written with Chas. Millard] Pantomime Astley's 1866-12-26
Dulcamara! or, The Little Duck and the Great Quack [parody of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore] Extravaganza St. James's Theatre 1866-12-29
La Vivandière; or, True to the Corps! [parody of Donizetti's La fille du régiment] Extravaganza St. James's Hall, Liverpool 1867-06-15
Robinson Crusoe; or, The Injun Bride and the Injured Wife [written with H. J. Byron, Tom Hood, H. S. Leigh and Arthur Sketchley] Burlesque Haymarket 1867-07-06
Allow Me To Explain One-Act Farce Prince of Wales's Theatre 1867-11-04
Highly Improbable One-Act Farce Royalty Theatre 1867-12-05
A Colossal Idea [first pub. 1932] One-Act Farce unperformed N/A
Harlequin Cock Robin and Jenny Wren; or, Fortunatus and the Water of Life, the Three Bears, the Three Gifts, the Three Wishes, and the Little Man who Woo'd the Little Maid Pantomime Lyceum 1867-12-26
The Merry Zingara; or, The Tipsy Gipsy and the Pipsy Wipsy [parody of Balfe's The Bohemian Girl] Extravaganza Royalty 1868-03-21
Robert the Devil; or, The Nun, the Dun, and the Son of a Gun [parody of Meyerbeer's Robert le diable] Extravaganza Gaiety Theatre 1868-12-21
No Cards One-Act Musical Entertainment (Thomas German Reed/"Lionel Elliott"?) Gallery of Illustration 1869-03-29
The Pretty Druidess; or, The Mother, the Maid, and the Mistletoe Bough [parody of Bellini's Norma] Extravaganza Charing Cross Theatre 1869-06-19
An Old Score [revived as Quits] Three-Act Comedy Gaiety 1869-07-26
Ages Ago One-Act Musical Entertainment (Frederic Clay) Gallery of Illustration 1869-11-22
A Medical Man [published in Clement Scott's Drawing-Room Plays (1870)] One-Act Farce St. George's Hall 1872-10-24
The Princess [based on Tennyson's poem] Blank-Verse Parody Olympic Theatre 1870-01-08
The Gentleman in Black Two-Act Musical Play (Frederic Clay) Charing Cross 1870-05-26
Our Island Home One-Act Musical Entertainment (Thomas German Reed) Gallery of Illustration 1870-06-20
The Palace of Truth Three-Act Fairy Comedy Haymarket 1870-11-19
The Brigands [translated and adapted from Les brigands by Meilhac and Halévy; published by Boosey, 1871] Three-Act Comic Opera (Jacques Offenbach) Theatre Royal, Plymouth 1889-09-02
Randall's Thumb Three-Act Comedy Court Theatre 1871-01-25
A Sensation Novel Musical Entertainment in Three "Volumes" (Thomas German Reed) Gallery of Illustration 1871-01-30
Creatures of Impulse One-Act Musical Play (Alberto Randegger) Court 1871-04-28
Great Expectations [adapted from the Dickens novel] Drama Court 1871-05-29
On Guard[2] Three-Act Melodramatic Comedy Court 1871-10-28
Pygmalion and Galatea Three-Act Fairy Comedy Haymarket 1871-12-09
Thespis; or, The Gods Grown Old Two-Act Comic Opera (Arthur Sullivan) Gaiety 1871-12-26
Happy Arcadia One-Act Musical Entertainment
(Frederic Clay)
Gallery of Illustration 1872-10-28
The Wicked World Three-Act Fairy Comedy Haymarket 1873-01-04
The Happy Land [written as F. Tomline, with Gilbert à Beckett] Two-Act Burlesque of The Wicked World Court 1873-03-03
The Realm of Joy [written as F. Latour Tomline: freely adapted from Le Roi Candaule by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy; title changed after a few nights to The Realms of Joy] One-Act Farce Royalty 1873-10-18
The Wedding March [written as F. Latour Tomline: translated from Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie by Eugène Labiche][1] Three-Act Farce Court 1873-11-15
Charity Four-Act Drama Haymarket 1874-01-03
Ought We To Visit Her? [adapted from the novel by Annie Edwardes][3] Three-Act Drama Royalty 1874-01-17
Committed For Trial [written as F. Latour Tomline: translated from Le Réveillon by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy] Two-Act Farce Globe Theatre 1874-01-24
The Blue-Legged Lady [no author named: translated from La Dame aux Jambes d'Azur by Eugène Labiche and Marc-Michel] One-Act Farce Court 1874-03-04
Topsyturveydom One-Act Extravaganza
(Alfred Cellier)
Criterion Theatre 1874-03-21
Sweethearts Two-Act Comedy Prince of Wales's Theatre 1874-11-07
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [published in Fun, December 1874] Burlesque in Three Short "Tableaux" Vaudeville Theatre 1891-06-03
Trial by Jury One-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Royalty 1875-03-25
Tom Cobb; or, Fortune's Toy Three-Act Farce St. James's 1875-04-24
Eyes and No Eyes; or, The Art of Seeing One-Act Musical Entertainment (Thomas German Reed) St. George's Hall 1875-07-05
Broken Hearts Three-Act Verse Drama Court 1875-12-09
Princess Toto Three-Act Comic Opera (Frederic Clay) Theatre Royal, Nottingham 1876-06-24
Dan'l Druce, Blacksmith Three-Act Drama Haymarket 1876-09-11
On Bail [revised version of Committed for Trial] Three-Act Farce Criterion 1877-02-03
Engaged Three-Act Farcical Comedy Haymarket 1877-10-03
The Sorcerer Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Opera Comique 1877-11-17
The Forty Thieves [written with Robert Reece, F. C. Burnand, and H. J. Byron; three performances for charity] Pantomime Gaiety 1878-02-13
The Ne'er-Do-Weel [rewritten and restaged three weeks later as The Vagabond] Three-Act Drama Olympic 1878-02-25
H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass that Loved a Sailor Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Opera Comique 1878-05-25
Gretchen [based on Goethe's Faust] Four-Act Verse Tragedy Olympic 1879-03-24
Lord Mayor's Day [translated from La Cagnotte by Eugène Labiche. Gilbert translated the first two acts, but was not credited.] Three-Act Farce Folly Theatre 1879-06-30
The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Bijou, Paignton; Fifth Avenue, NY; and Opera Comique 1879-12-30 & 1879-12-31
Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Opera Comique 1881-04-23
Foggerty's Fairy Three-Act Farce Criterion 1881-12-15
Iolanthe; or, The Peer and the Peri Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy Theatre 1882-11-25
Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant [revised version of The Princess] Three-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1884-01-05
Comedy and Tragedy One-Act Drama Lyceum 1884-01-26
The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1885-03-14
Ruddygore; or, The Witch's Curse [retitled Ruddigore after a few days] Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1887-01-22
The Yeomen of the Guard; or, The Merryman and his Maid Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1888-03-10
Brantinghame Hall Four-Act Drama St. James's 1888-11-29
The Gondoliers; or, The King of Barataria Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1889-07-12
The Mountebanks Two-Act Comic Opera
(Alfred Cellier)
Lyric Theatre 1892-01-04
Haste to the Wedding [operatic version of The Wedding March] Three-Act Comic Opera
(George Grossmith)
Criterion 1892-07-27
Utopia (Limited); or, The Flowers of Progress [retitled Utopia Limited after a few days] Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1893-10-07
His Excellency Two-Act Comic Opera
(F. Osmond Carr)
Lyric 1894-10-27
The Grand Duke; or, The Statutory Duel Two-Act Comic Opera
(Arthur Sullivan)
Savoy 1896-03-07
The Fortune Hunter Three-Act Drama Theatre Royal, Birmingham 1897-09-27
Harlequin and the Fairy's Dilemma [retitled The Fairy's Dilemma after a few days] Two-Act Domestic Pantomime Garrick Theatre 1904-05-03
Fallen Fairies; or, The Wicked World [operatic version of The Wicked World] Two-Act Comic Opera
(Edward German)
Savoy 1909-12-15
The Hooligan One-Act Drama London Coliseum 1911-02-27
Trying a Dramatist; [published in Original Plays, Fourth Series (1911)][4] One-Act Sketch unknown unknown

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stedman, Jane W. "Gilbert, Sir William Schwenck (1836–1911)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004, online edition, May 2008, accessed 10 January 2010 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ The Times review and link to the libretto of On Guard, Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, 25 November 2009
  3. ^ Trutt, David. "Ought We To Visit Her?" at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, accessed 10 September 2010
  4. ^ Trutt, David. "Trying A Dramatist by W. S. Gilbert" at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, accessed 10 September 2010


  • Ainger, Michael (2002). Gilbert and Sullivan – A Dual Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Crowther, Andrew (2000). Contradiction Contradicted – The Plays of W. S. Gilbert. Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-8386-3839-2.
  • Stedman, Jane W. (1996). W. S. Gilbert, A Classic Victorian & His Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816174-3.
  • Gilbert, W. S. (1969). Jane W. Stedman (ed.). Gilbert Before Sullivan – Six Comic Plays by W. S. Gilbert. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

External links[edit]