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William Schwenck Gilbert was born near the Strand in 1836. He became a civil servant and later practised as a barrister, supplementing his income by writing comic sketches and songs. He graduated to writing pantomimes, operatic parodies and burlesques, developing the topsy-turvey style which he made his own. He is best known today for having been the "words man" behind the hugely successful Savoy Operas, written with Sullivan. Gilbert was knighted in 1907 and drowned in a lake in his garden in 1911.

Arthur Seymour Sullivan was born in Lambeth in 1842. He became the best-known British composer of the 19th Century, writing operas, ballets, oratorios and hymns (including Onward Christian Soldiers). He was knighted in 1883. His most popular works however were his light operatic collaborations with Gilbert, commissioned by theatre impresario and businessman Richard D’Oyly Carte. These included The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and The Gondoliers. Gilbert and Sullivan fell out over a carpet in 1890. Sullivan died of heart failure in 1900.

Martin Lamb

Martin Lamb works primarily as an opera singer, as well as enjoying a parallel career as a writer and director in various forms of theatre and education. He has sung with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, the English National Opera, Scottish Opera, English Touring Opera and Garsington Opera.

Time Out London