Gilbert Abbott à Beckett

Gilbert Abbott à Beckett
Born (1811-01-09)9 January 1811
London, England
Died 30 August 1856(1856-08-30) (aged 45)
Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Resting place Highgate Cemetery
Nationality English
Occupation Lawyer, humorist writer

Gilbert Abbott à Beckett (9 January 1811 – 30 August 1856) was an English humorist.[1]

He was born in London, the son of a lawyer, and belonged to a family claiming descent from Thomas Becket. He was educated at Westminster School and was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1841.

He edited the comic paper Figaro in London and was one of the original staff of Punch and a contributor until his death. He was an active journalist on The Times and The Morning Herald, contributed a series of light articles to The Illustrated London News, conducted in 1846 The Almanack of the Month and found time to produce some fifty or sixty plays, among them dramatized versions of Charles Dickens's shorter stories, written in collaboration with Mark Lemon. He is perhaps best known as the author of Comic History of England (1847–48), Comic History of Rome (1852) and a Comic Blackstone (1846).[2] He wrote the book for two operas with music composed by his wife Mary Anne à Beckett (née Glossop), Agnes Sorrel and Red Riding Hood.

As poor-law commissioner he presented a valuable report to the Home Secretary regarding the Andover workhouse scandal, and in 1849 he became a metropolitan police magistrate.[3] He died in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, of typhoid fever and is buried at Highgate Cemetery.

His elder brother, Sir William à Beckett (1806–1869), became chief justice of Victoria, Australia. He was the father of two other Victorian writers, Gilbert Arthur à Beckett and Arthur William à Beckett.


  1.  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). "À Beckett, Gilbert Abbott". Dictionary of National Biography. 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 31.
  2. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 6th Edition. Edited by Margaret Drabble, Oxford University Press, 2000 p.2
  3. Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3

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