| Bab Ballads and Savoy Songs |
A book of ballads and songs by W.S.Gilbert, English dramatist and writer of humorous verse, he is best remembered as librettist of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas.
I collected the most popular of the songs and ballads which I had written for the series of light operas with which my name is associated, and published them under the title of "Songs of a Savoyard". It recently occurred to me that these songs had so much in common with "The Bab Ballads" that it might be advisable to weld the two books into one. This is, briefly, the history of the present volume.
Gilbert wrote a large number of ballads for the magazine Fun using his pen-name Bab. These Bab Ballads became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plots and songs for the Grand Operas.
Contains 'The Yarn of The Nancy Bell', 'Captain Reece', 'The Bishop and the Busman' and many others.
The book is illustrated with black and white drawing illustrations by the author.
His creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, numerous stories, poems, lyrics and various other comic pieces. Often associated with his musical collaborator, the composer Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan, Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was a dramatist, published poet, and satirist before composing the lyrics for the operettas that have immortalized his name. Born in London on 18 November 1836, the son of a retired naval surgeon, he traveled with his parents throughout Europe, and at the age of two was kidnapped and held for ransom by Italian bandits. Returning with his family (which included three sisters) to London in 1849, he studied first at the Great Ealing School and then at King's College, but decided upon a career in the military as an artillery officer rather than continue studies at Oxford. However, just as he finished his military training the Crimean War ended, and he found employment as a clerk of the Privy Council at the Educational Department (1857 to 1864).
Gilbert himself explained how the Bab Ballads came about:
In 1861 Fun was started, under the editorship of Mr H. J. Byron. With much labour I turned out an article three-quarters of a column long, and sent it to the editor, together with a half-page drawing on wood. A day or two later the printer of the paper called upon me, with Mr Byron's compliments, and staggered me with a request to contribute a column of 'copy' and a half-page drawing every wekk for the term of my natural life. I hardly knew how to treat the offer, for it seemed to me that into that short article I had poured all I knew. I was empty. I had exhausted myself: I didn't know any more. However, the printer encouraged me (with Mr Byron's compliments), and I said I would try. I did try, and I found to my surprise that there was a little left, and enough indeed to enable me to contribute some hundreds of columns to the periodical throughout his editorship, and that of his successor, poor Tom Hood! (Gilbert, 1883).
Finally, in 1897, Gilbert produced The Bab Ballads with which are included Songs of a Savoyard. This volume included all of the Bab Ballads that had appeared in any of the earlier collected volumes, the sixty-nine "Songs of a Savoyard" from the 1890 volume, and eighteen additional lyrics in the same format from the four new operas he had written since then. The Bab Ballads and illustrated opera lyrics alternated, creating the impression of one integrated body of work.
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