Gilbert & Sullivan Bibliography & Links
Compiled by John Kenrick
G&S scholarship has been accumulating for more than 100 years. The brief list below includes some personal favorites, as well as most of the crucial works. And (thank heaven) you'll find some capital web resources too.
I. The Works of Gilbert & Sullivan
All the works of Gilbert & Sullivan have been in the public domain for several decades. Whie this means that they can be performed rights free, it also means that no one has any control over the published editions of their works.
The Complete Works of Gilbert and Sullivan - These have been published "in many various ways," some less complete than others. For example, the Nelson Doubleday edition omits entire songs. The full texts of all the libretti can be accessed free of charge on the web at the Gilbert & Sullivan Archive. (There is more about this marvelous website below.) Those new to G&S will find Ian Bradley's annotated edition of the major librettos particularly helpful, with informative explanations for every topical reference.
The G&S Scores have been published in numerous editions, from vocal selections to fully orchestrated versions. Some adhere to the original arrangements, some are newer variations. Depending on your needs, scores can either be purchased outright or in many cases rented for performance.
Gilbert's Non-Musical Plays - These have also been published in various "Gilbert Without Sullivan" editions. Successful in their time, the plays will be of interest to die hard fans and scholars.
The Bab Ballads - If you love the G&S musicals, you will want to treat yourself to reading Gilbert's delightful comics poems and his accompanying cartoons.
The Songs: Most G&S song collections abbreviate the songs and use simplified arrangements. The one exception is The Best of Gilbert and Sullivan, published in various editions by Chappel Music Co., New York. It includes 42 complete songs with their original piano arrangements.
II. Books About Gilbert & Sullivan
Ayre, Leslie. The Gilbert and Sullivan Companion. W.H. Allen & Co., London. 1972.A useful dictionary-style volume covering "the canon," listing the major songs & characters, and important figures in G&S history.
Bailey, Leslie. The Gilbert and Sullivan Book. (Revised Edition) New York: Coward McCann, 1966. This hefty but affectionate tribute is still one of the most enjoyable works on G&S. Written for general audiences, it remains a feast for both fans and scholars. This is the must-have for serious Savoyards.
Bailey, Leslie. Gilbert and Sullivan: Their Lives and Times. New York: Penguin Books, England, 1973. A concise, illustrated joint biography, this is one of the most accessible and accurate introductions to the G&S story. The author's lifelong passion for the subject makes this a fun read for neophytes and longtime fans alike.
Bradley, Ian. The Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan. Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, 1982. (2 Volumes) Detailed notes on every passage make some of the dated references in "the canon" come to life only Utopia Ltd. and Grand Duke are absent. A wonderful reference for fans and anyone staging G&S shows.
Bradley, Ian. The Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. Bradley combines the 2 volume paperback set into this hefty hardcover, and this time all the shows are included. This is a crucial work for any serious G&S fan or scholar the most useful version of the original texts to date.
Hibbert, Christopher. Gilbert and Sullivan and Their Victorian World. New York: American Heritage, 1976. A handsome picture book with well chosen photos and detailed text -- this a decent introduction to G&S.
Jacobs, Arthur. Arthur Sullivan: A Victorian Musician. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1984. The best biography of Sullivan some dry stretches, but overall a thorough, insightful, detailed and well presented book. The extensive bibliography will be of particular interest to scholars in search of valuable resources.
Smith, Geoffrey. The Savoy Operas: A New Guide to Gilbert and Sullivan. New York: Universe Books, 1983. Detailed examination of each G&S show, with a solid selection of photos. Written from a musician's perspective, it sometimes misfires in its dramatic assessments of the librettos. A great way to get deeper insights into the G&S canon.
Stedman, Jane. W.S. Gilbert: A Classic Victorian and His Theatre. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996. Easily the best Gilbert biography to date, setting Gilbert's life and work in the context of his times. Insightful and readable, with every point backed up by thorough research. This is essential reading for serious students of G&S.
Wilson, Robin and Frederick Lloyd. Gilbert and Sullivan: The Official D'Oyly Carte Picture History. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1984. A visual orgy for fans, with 500 or so photos covering the first century of the D'Oyly Carte troupe, both on stage and off. The text offers little information, but most fans won't mind much.
Wren, Gayden. A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. One of the most insightful and enjoyable examinations of the G&S canon, arranged show by show. A joy for anyone who is familiar with these musicals and open to some fresh perspectives. Superbly written and well-researched. The annotated bibliography (a man after my own heart!) is an informative delight.
III. Suggested G&S Websites
Gilbert & Sullivan Archive - Thank heaven for this site! The full text of all the works, extensive midi files for the major melodies, and a library's worth of related resources. You'll find a comprehensive discography, G&S links galore, info on over 3,000 G&S performers a researcher's treasure trove!
LOOM - The unauthorized homepage for the now-defunct Light Opera Of Manhattan, a company that staged memorable productions of every G&S operetta in the late 20th Century. This site is hosted by Musicals101.
The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City has the most extensive and important G&S archive in the world, including the original manuscripts for most of the scores and thousands of other relevant items and documents. They even have the colored blocks Gilbert used to plan his stagings. The Library periodically presents G&S exhibitions and related events, and their website includes access to their collection catalog.