Gilbert's Non-Dramatic Works

Though Gilbert was first and foremost a writer for the theatre, he also wrote in other genres. Most famously, he wrote comic verse - the superb Bab Ballads.

Though He also wrote many onther things in other styles. There is, as far as I know, no systematic list of these other works; this attempt can only be a rough marking-out of territory.

Any comments, criticisms, or information about additions to be made, are very welcome. I can be contacted at:


I have included in this list the books published in Gilbert's lifetime (including the Original Plays as showing his desire for his plays to be part of a respectable person's library), plus a couple that he certainly intended to be published but which appeared only posthumously. Some information is taken from various contributions by Philip Plumb to the W.S. Gilbert Society Journal.

The 'Bab' Ballads: Much Sound and Little Sense (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868)
More Bab Ballads (London: Routledge, 1872).
Fifty Bab Ballads.
 (London: Routledge, 1876) - a selection from the two previous volumes, plus the previously uncollected "Etiquette".
Original Plays
 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1876)
Original Plays: Second Series
 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1881)
Foggerty's Fairy and other tales (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1890)
Songs of a Savoyard (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1890) - collection of lyrics from the Savoy operas.
Original Plays: Third Series (London: Chatto & Windus, 1895)
The Bab Ballads, with which are included Songs of a Savoyard (1897) - collection of all the Babs previously published in book form, along with lyrics from Songs of a Savoyard, plus some post-1890 lyrics.
The Pinafore Picture Book (London: George Bell & Sons, 1908) - retelling of H.M.S. Pinafore for children, in prose narrative form
Original Plays: Fourth Series (London: Chatto & Windus, 1911)
The Story of The Mikado (London: Daniel O'Connor, 1921) - retelling of The Mikado, in similar form as The Pinafore Picture Book.

Short Stories and Other Contributions to Magazines.

This list has been compiled from Sir William Schwenck Gilbert: A Topsy-Turvy Adventure by Townley Searle (London: Alexander-Ouseley Ltd., 1931), and "Additions to the Bibliography of W.S. Gilbert's Contributions to Magazines" by Arthur E. Dubois, Modern Language Notes, May 1932, pp308-14.

I am extremely grateful to David Stone for a good deal of information in this updated list.

The abbreviation FF in the list refers to Gilbert's short-story collection Foggerty's Fairy and Other Tales (1890). I have not been able to check every entry: corrections are welcome.

1861-1871, 1874

Contributions to Fun, 1861-1871, and 1874 - verse, stories, jokes, reviews, drawings, etc. For details, see John Bush Jones, "W.S. Gilbert's Contributions to Fun, 1865-1874", Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 73 (April 1969), pp253-66.


"My Maiden Brief", Cornhill, 1863


"Honours of the Shrievalty", London Society, May 1865.
"The Key to the Strong Room" - (retitled "Johnny Pounce" for FF), in book collection A Bunch of Keys (1865)
"Extraordinary Instance of Rapid Recovery from Disease", Punch, 22 Apr 1865
"Is the University Boat Race a Myth", Punch, 22 Apr 1865
"Ballad Minstrelsy", Punch, 22 Apr 1865
"Soundings", Punch, 22 Apr 1865
"The Royal Academy Exhibition", Punch, 17 Jun 1865
"The Recent Hideous Case of Hydrophobia", Punch, 29 Jul 1865
"To My Absent Husband", Punch, 14 Oct 1865
"The Return", Punch, 21 Oct 1865


"Our War Paint", Temple Bar, September 1866
"The Income Tax: Maxwell and I" (retitled "Maxwell and I" for FF), in book collection Rates and Taxes (1866)
"The Lawyer's Story", Warne's Christmas Annual 1866
"Ruy Blas" Warne's Christmas Annual 1866
"The History of a Gentleman who was Born at an Advanced Age", Warne's Christmas Annual 1866


"From St. Paul's to Piccadilly", Belgravia, 1867
"Jones' Victoria Cross", Once a Week, Nov. 2 1867
"The Converted Clown", Routledge's Christmas Annual 1867
"On the Cards - Diamonds", Routledge's Christmas Annual 1867
"The Triumph of Vice", in book collection Savage Club Papers, 1867.
"Thumbnail Studies", (series of seven) London Society, 1867-8


"A Militia Training", London Society, Sept. 1868
"Britons at Boulogne", London Society, Nov. 1868
"A Clown's Story", Illustrated Times, December 19, 1868 [This Bab-illustrated story was discovered by David Stone]
"Johnson; or, He is Your Brother", Tom Hood's Comic Annual 1868
"Mr. Pip and Mr. Pop; or, The Two Stock Brokers", Tom Hood's Comic Annual 1868
"Two 'Pon Ten", Tom Hood's Comic Annual, 1868
"A Batch of Ballads", Tom Hood's Comic Annual, 1868
"Croquet", The Broadway Annual for 1868
Dramatic Notes, Daily News, 1868, until September
Dramatic Criticism, Illustrated Times, 1868-70
Dramatic Criticism, Observer, 1868-70


"The British Playgoer, and All that is Expected of Him", Tinsleys', Jan 1869
"The Christmas Entertainments", London Society, Feb. 1869
[NB The article "Dr. Trusler's Maxims" (Tinsleys', Mar 1869) appears to be by William Gilbert, WSG's father, though it is illustrated by WSG.]
"Etiquette", Graphic, Christmas Number 1869


"What is a Burlesque?", Belgravia Annual, 1870
"A Drop of Pantomime Water", Graphic Christmas Number 1870
"A Strange Old Lady" (retitled "Creatures of Impulse" for FF), Graphic Christmas Number 1870
"Randall's Thumb", in 3 Chapters, Hood's Comic Annual 1870
"Emily and Augusta", Hood's Comic Annual, 1870


"Tom Poulton's Joke", Dark Blue, March 17 1871
"Mr. Peters Takes a Bath at Boulogne", Hood's Comic Annual, 1871, pp96-97
"The Wicked World: an allegory", Hood's Comic Annual, 1871, pp82-90


"Eheu! Fugaces", Dark Blue, April 1872
"The Finger of Fate", Hood's Comic Annual, 1872, pp82-87


"Old Plays and New Plays", Era Almanack 1873
"A Stage Play", Hood's Comic Annual, 1873, pp98-103


"The Story of a Twelfth Cake" (retitled "Foggerty's Fairy" for FF) Graphic Christmas Number, 1874


"A Proposal for Elevating the Position of the Modern Drama", Era Almanack 1875
"A Consistent Pantomime", Graphic, Jan. 16 1875


"An Elixir of Love", Graphic Christmas Number, 1876
"Little Mim", Graphic Christmas Number, 1876


"An Appeal to the Press", Era Almanack 1878
"Wide Awake", Mirth: a miscellany of wit and humour, no.1, 1878


"Jester James", Time, Apr 1879
"The Policeman's Story", Time, May 1879
"A Hornpipe in Fetters", Era Almanack 1879
"Comedy and Tragedy", The Stage Door (Routledge's Christmas Annual), 1879


"Actors, Authors and Audiences", Holly Leaves (Christmas number of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News), Christmas 1880


"Only Roses", Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Christmas Number, 1881


"Unappreciated Shakespeare", Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Christmas Number, 9 December 1882


"An Autobiography", The Theatre, April 1883
"The Burglar's Story", Holly Leaves (Christmas number of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News), December 8 1883


"The Thief's Apology", The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Christmas Number, 1884
"My Pantomime", Era Almanack 1884


"A Tale of a Dry Plate", The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, Christmas Number, 1885


"I Expostulate", The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Christmas Number, 1886


"Angela: An Inverted Love Story", The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Christmas Number 1887


"The Brigands", Era Nov. 9 1889


"The Fairy's Dilemma", Graphic Christmas Number 1900


"The King and the Stroller: a comparison", in anthology The Queen's Christmas Carol, 1905


"Lady Mildred's Little Escapade", in charity book collection Crutches to Help Cripple Children, 1907


"The Lady in the Plaid Shawl", in book collection The Flag, 1908.


"Actors and Authors", in souvenir theatre programme Queen Alexandra Sanatorium Davos: Souvenir and Programme of Matinee, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, May 11 1909. 


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