Gilbert Arthur à Beckett (1837 - 1891)

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About Gilbert Arthur à Beckett

Gilbert Arthur à Beckett (1837 – October 15, 1891) was an English writer.


Beckett was born at Hammersmith, United Kingdom, the eldest son of Gilbert Abbott à Beckett and the brother of Arthur William à Beckett. Graduating from Christ Church, Oxford, as a Westminster scholar in 1860, he was entered at Lincoln's Inn but gave his attention chiefly to drama, producing Diamonds and Hearts at the Haymarket Theatre in 1867; this was followed by other light comedies. His adaptation of a French operetta by Émile Jonas called The Two Harlequins opened the new Gaiety Theatre, London in 1868, together with his distant cousin, W. S. Gilbert's, Robert the Devil and another piece.

Beckett's pieces include numerous burlesques and pantomimes, the libretti of Savonarola (Hamburg, 1884) and The Canterbury Pilgrims (Drury Lane, 1884) for the music of Dr. (afterwards Sir) C. V. Stanford. The Happy Land (Court Theatre, 1873), a daring political satire and burlesque of W. S. Gilbert's The Wicked World, was written in collaboration with Gilbert, who wrote under the pseudonym F. L. Tomline. With the composer Alfred Cellier, Beckett wrote the operetta Two Foster Brothers (St. George's Hall, 1877).

For the last ten years of his life, he was on the regular staff of Punch. He also invented the idea for one of Punch's best cartoons, "Dropping the Pilot".

His health was seriously affected in 1889 by the death of his only son, and he died in 1891.


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