Harry wrote the lyrics to several of his own songs, most notably the early successes A Dog Song and If It Wasn’t For The Likes of Huss!
His earliest collaborations were with Arthur Wimperis. However, his most prolific and long-lasting lyricist was Arthur Davenport, succeeded in 1910 by Compton Mackenzie. Always in search of new talent he collaborated with other lyricists from time to time.
Arthur Wimperis (1874 - 1953)
Born the same year as Pélissier in 1874, Wimperis was one of his earliest collaborators. In fact, their first collaboration, A Memory of Spain was published in 1893 when they were both just nineteen years old.
Their collaboration continued fitfully throughout Pelissier’s life, Wimperis appearing as an actual performing Folly in early group photographs taken by Walter Gardiner in 1895.
In all they collaborated on only 7 of the published songs but they included some of the most hard-hitting satirically, such What A Happy Land Is England and the most sentimentally romantic, such My Lodestar.
Wimperis went on to co-author the ground-breaking Edwardian musical The Arcadians (1909) with Lionel Monckton as well as collaborating on ‘Girl’ musicals for George Edwardes at the Gaiety theatre with shows such as The Girl in the Taxi (1912) and The Sunshine Girl (1912).
In the 1930s he worked as a screenplay writer for Alexander Korda and in 1942 won the Oscar for Mrs Miniver.
Always a shrewd businessman, he was far more successful at securing and claiming his royalties than was Arthur Davenport, Pélissier’s other principal lyricist. He died a wealthy man at his home in Maidenhead, England in 1953.
Arthur or ‘Robin’ Davenport was Pélissier’s most prolific collaborator as a lyricist, with at least 30 published songs to his credit in the H.G.Pélissier collection – amounting to almost half the output. He also co-wrote the musical burlesque Love’s Garden.
A heavy drinker, his nickname among the troupe was ‘Fish’. He married a fellow Folly, Muriel George with whom he had a son, the literary critic John Davenport, in 1908.
In later years, he fell out with Pélissier, perhaps because of the drinking, and from 1910 onwards their working relationship was sporadic and at times hostile.
Arthur Wimperis, 1894
Sir Compton Mackenzie (1883 - 1972)
Much has been written about Compton Mackenzie - not least in his own 8 ‘octave’ autobiography. Not only was he H.G.Pélissier’s lyricist and sketch writer between 1910 - 1912, but he became his brother-in-law when Harry married Fay, his younger sister.
Musically, they co-authored just 2 numbers in the published song collection – The Big Bamboo (1911), a satire on orientalism and Return to the Simple Life (1911), a satire on the political slogans of the Liberal government under Asquith, co-written with Arthur Davenport. More significantly, they collaborated on the ill-fated revue All Change Here which ran for just two weeks at the Alhambra, Leicester Square in 1910-11. ‘
"Monty’ was never quite reconciled to the marriage of his young sister to the flamboyant Harry and their relations more or less terminated when it took place in September 1911.
Monty did however find inspiration in their short collaboration, not least for his novels (and subsequent musical and film adaptations) Carnival (1912) and The Early Life and Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett (1918). Both find their settings and principal characters in the world of musical revue and the pierrot show.