William Gilbert, (1804–1890) was a British novelist and Royal Navy surgeon, and the author of novels, biographies, histories and several popular fantasy stories, mostly in the 1860s and 1870s. He is perhaps best remembered, however, as the father of dramatist W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Gilbert was born at Bishopstoke, Hampshire. He served the East India Company as a midshipman from 1818 to 1821 but was unhappy with the conditions and so quit the service. He then spent several years in Italy, returning to England about 1825. There he studied at Guy's Hospital and then entered the Royal College of Surgeons in 1830. He was an assistant surgeon in the navy for several years but left when he received an annuity from his father's estate.
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