The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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George Grossmith, 1847-1912

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1847.12.09
Place of Birth: London
Date of Death: 1912.03.01
Place of Death: Folkestone


George Grossmith was born in London and was the elder son of a lecturer and police court reporter to The Times, George Grossmith, and his wife Emmeline Weedon. His younger brother, Walter Weedon Grossmith was a comedian and painter. In 1873 he married Emmeline Rosa, daughter of E. Noyce, M.D., and had two sons, George and Lawrence, both of whom became actors, and two daughters.


He started his career as a deputy for his father at the Bow Street police court but later went on to become an entertainer and singer in light opera. He appeared in a range of performances until the autumn of 1877 when he was engaged by Richard d'Oyly Carte to play John Wellington Wells in the Opera Comique production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer. He was engaged with this series for the next twelve years, 'creating' parts such as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore, Magor General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance and Reginald Bunthorne in Patience, an aesthetic dandy based on popular images of Oscar Wilde and Whistler. Whistler was familiar with his theatrical roles.

From 1889 Grossmith left this career and devoted himself to his 'humorous and musical recitals', which were a mixture of music, chat and satirical comment of his own composition.


Kelly's London Post office Directory, London; Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 2004.