Chronology of the Grossmith brothers

George & Weedon Grossmith: A Brief Chronology


1847      December 9. George Grossmith born, first child of George Grossmith senior, police-court reporter for The Times and semi-professional lecturer on literary topics, and Louisa, née Weedon.

1854      June 9. Weedon Grossmith born, the third child and second son of the family.

1857      The Grossmith family moves to The Manor House, Haverstock Hill, London.

1859-    George & Weedon both attend North London Collegiate School, Camden Town. Weedon is later admitted to the Royal Academy Schools to train as an artist.

1866      George trains and works as a reporter at Bow Street Police Court, while planning to study for the Bar. He embarks on a parallel career as a piano entertainer with growing success, appearing before audiences at literary institutes, churches & the YMCA, then as a “society clown” in fashionable drawing-rooms.

1873      George marries Emmeline “Rosa” Noyce.

1874      May 11. George Grossmith junior born, first of four siblings. The family lives in Blandford Square, Marylebone.

1876-77 George tours with the comedienne Florence Marryat in their show Entre Nous, consisting of piano sketches, scenes and recitations in costume.

1877      October. George’s career breakthrough: an invitation from Arthur Sullivan to take the role of John Wellington Wells in a new Gilbert & Sullivan opera, The Sorcerer.

1877-89 George becomes famous for his leading roles in most of the D’Oyly Carte/Gilbert & Sullivan operas. Simultaneously he continues with dozens of private and charitable solo entertainments, writing nearly all his own material.

1878       May. George takes the role of Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore.

1879       A portrait by Weedon of his father is “hung” at the Royal Academy.

1880       April. The Pirates of Penzance starts its run, with George as Major-General Stanley.

1881       April. Patience starts its run, with George playing Bunthorne.

               October. Richard D’Oyly Carte opens his new Savoy Theatre in the Strand.

1882       February. George attends a dinner-party with the Prince of Wales, the first of several invitations.

               November. George plays the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe.

1883       George’s first significant publication, a comic sketch, “The Society Dramatist,” appears in Punch.

               Weedon’s career as an artist stalls and he begins to consider a stage career.

1884        January. George plays King Gama in Princess Ida.
                January-April. He publishes “Very Trying,” ten sketches of police-court life, in Punch.

                May. Weedon has another portrait hung at the Royal Academy.

1885      March. The Mikado starts its run, with George playing Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner. It runs for nearly two years. He moves to 28 Dorset Square and lives there for 17 years, becoming a familiar figure in literary, theatrical and legal London.
September. Weedon takes to the stage, first in Liverpool then in Boston; he finds success in a one-act play, A Pantomime Rehearsal.

1886      George is said to earn £1000 in royalties from his popular hit song, See Me Dance the Polka. Weedon again tours in America, in an Arthur Pinero farce.

1887        January. George begins the role of Robin Oakapple in Ruddigore.            

                Early in the year Weedon returns to England; he lives with George and his family in Dorset Square until May 1888 or later, during which time the Diary is conceived and the first episodes appear.

                November. George plays in a revival of HMS Pinafore.

1888        February. George signs a contract to write his memoirs A Society Clown.

                March 17. George plays in a revival of The Pirates of Penzance (to June 6).

                May. Weedon is invited to act in a play starring Henry Irving, Robert Macaire; the start of his successful British stage career.

                May 26. The Diary of a Nobody starts to appear anonymously in Punch. All the payments (total £38 10s. 6d.) are made to George alone.

                June 7. George plays in a revival of The Mikado (to September 29).

                August. His partial autobiography A Society Clown is published.

                October. George plays Jack Point in The Yeoman of the Guard.

1889        February. Weedon plays in The School for Scandal at the Globe Theatre.

                May 11. The first version of the Diary in Punch concludes.

                July. George leaves the Savoy permanently after 12 years; by the end, his salary is said to be £2000 a year.

                September. George starts a gruelling series of “Humorous and Musical Recitals,” for which he tours and works solo. He is said to have earned £10,000 in the first seven months.

1890           November 12. George entertains Queen Victoria at Balmoral.

1891           Weedon moves to The Old House, Canonbury.

1892           July 4. The first book edition of the Diary, with a much-extended text, is published by J.W. Arrowsmith, of Bristol, with new illustrations by Weedon.

                   October 19. George departs on his first American tour; four more follow.

1895           Weedon marries May Palfrey, an actress.

1896           Weedon publishes his only novel, A Woman with a History.

1901           Weedon’s first full-length comedy, The Night of the Party, has a run of six months in London; he             continues as a well-known actor and playwright up to the First World War, living at 1 Bedford Square.

1902           George and his family move to 55 Russell Square.

1908           George’s last public engagement; he retires to a house at 32 Manor Road, Folkestone.

1910           George’s second volume of reminiscences, Piano and I, published.

                   Arrowsmith releases a new edition of the Diary, which establishes it as a success.

1912           March 1. George dies.

1913           Weedon publishes his reminiscences, From Studio to Stage.

1919           June 14. Weedon dies.