Julian More

A librettist and lyricist for some of the most successful British hit musical shows of the late 1950s.
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography

b. 1929, England. A librettist and lyricist for some of the most successful British hit musical shows of the late 50s, More became interested in the theatre while at Cambridge University. He was involved as a performer and writer in undergraduate revues, and contributed the occasional item to the Watergate Theatre. In 1953 he wrote some material for the West End revue Airs On A Shoestring, which starred Max Adrian, Moyra Fraser and Betty Marsden. Two years later, he collaborated with composer James Gilbert for the Windsor Theatre production of a ‘revusical’, The World’s The Limit, and in the following year, they had a smash hit with Grab Me A Gondola. Set at the Venice Film Festival, with the character of the film star heroine ‘moulded’ on Britain’s Diana Dors, the show starred Joan Heal, Denis Quilley and June Wenham. It featured numbers such as ‘That’s My Biography’, ‘Cravin’ For The Avon’, ‘A Man, Not a Mouse’ and ‘New To Me’. Even more successful was Irma La Douce (1958) for which More, with Monty Norman and David Heneker, provided the English book and lyrics translation to Marguerite Monnot’s music. The story included such songs as ‘Our Language Of Love’ and ‘Dis-Donc’, and ran for 1, 512 performances in London, and over 500 in New York. The More-Heneker-Norman team combined with Wolf Mankowitz later in 1958 for Expresso Bongo. The ‘most important British musical for years’ starred Paul Schofield, Hy Hazell and James Kenny, and ran for nine months. The score, which included ‘The Shrine On The Second Floor’ and ‘I’ve Never Had It So Good’, virtually disappeared from the innovative 1960 film version starring Cliff Richard and Laurence Harvey. The lead in the road version was taken by Colin Hicks, the brother of Tommy Steele.

London’s theatrical scene was changing and More was unable to match previous achievements. Throughout the 60s and 70s his offerings included The Golden Touch (with Gilbert), The Art Of Living (his last collaboration with both Norman and Heneker), The Perils Of Scobie Prilt (with Norman), The Man From The West (with David Russell), Quick, Quick, Slow (Norman), Good Time Johnny (Gilbert), R Loves J (with Alexander Ferris) and Bordello (with Americans Al Frisch and Bernard Spiro). In 1979, he was back with Norman for Songbook: A Tribute To Mooney Shapiro, ‘a burlesque tale’ of the work of the prolific songwriter. Subsequently, More settled in France, with homes in Paris and Provence, and became a successful writer of travel books. Since then, he has re-emerged occasionally, and wrote the book and lyrics to Gilbert Becaud’s music for the Broadway show Roza (1987), ‘a maudlin and awkwardly constructed story with inferior songs’. He also adapted Abe Burrows’ original book for a London revival of Cole Porter’s Can-Can in 1988.