DECONSTRUCTING THE GLOBE BY THE WAY BOOK
By John Dawson
The Globe By The Way Book — A Literary Quick-Lunch for People Who Have Only Got Five Minutes to Spare (GBTW) was published in June 1908 by the Globe Publishing Company, 367 Strand, publisher of the Globe and Traveller newspaper. “By the Way” was the name of the paper’s front-page humor column, which consisted of a dozen or so paragraphs, jokes, and verse centered on politics and news. Wodehouse first contributed to the column on August 16, 1901, filling in for assistant-editor William Beach Thomas, and was called upon throughout 1902 and 1903 in the same capacity; he accepted the Globe’s offer of a full-time job in September 1903 when Beach Thomas left. In August 1904, the column’s editor, Harold Begbie, left the paper and Wodehouse was put in charge of the column, a position he held until May 1909. By his own accounting, he contributed to about 1,400 columns from 1901 to February 1908 (at which time his journal ends). Approximating fifteen months after that would likely add a few hundred more.
GBTW owes its existence to a series of popular “railway bookstall” books written by Charles Larcom (C. L.) Graves (1856–1944) and Edward Verrill (E. V.) Lucas (1868–1938). Graves edited the ‘By the Way’ Column ca. 1895–1901 and Lucas was a contributor. Both men were widely-published authors and humorists, and in 1903 they collaborated on England Day by Day, A Guide to Efficiency and Prophetic Calendar for 1904 (Methuen); followed by Wisdom While You Wait (Ibister, June 1903); Change for a Half-Penny (Alston Rivers, 1905) and Hustled History (Pitman, 1908). Meant for train travelers seeking a quick, light read, these shilling illustrated paper-bound books consisted of farcical advertisements, silly games, contest parodies, and jokes about politicians and other contemporaries. There is little “intellectual humor” or verse in them. GBTW appropriates England Day by Day’s main gimmick, the “prophetic calendar,” calling it “Our Rapid Calendar.” Wisdom While You Wait has a feature column called “By the Way.” GBTW is mined from the same vein as the Graves-Lucas books and is rather a Mad Magazine/National Lampoon of its day — cartoony, full of topical jest and silly spoofs on society and culture. But a hundred and five years later, much of the content fails to resonate with the modern reader; the witticism that made a Londoner laugh in 1908 may not age particularly well.
GBTW contains no actual “By the Way” column material. The book was a project separate from the column, using only its name to bolster sales. The illustrated full- and half-page features in GBTW would not have appeared in the front-page column or elsewhere in the paper.
GBTW is credited to Wodehouse and Herbert Westbrook
(1881–1959), one of Wodehouse’s models for the ne’er-do-well
Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge. He had been a schoolmaster in Emsworth,
and at times he and Wodehouse worked there, staying at either the school
or at Threepwood, the house Wodehouse later took nearby. Wodehouse gave
Westbrook the assistant’s job on the “By the Way” column
in 1905. The two are co-authors of five works: The unusual, semi-autobiographical
1907 novel Not George Washington, the 1907 play The Bandit’s
Daughter, The Globe By The Way Book from 1908, and the 1913
play Brother Alfred which was adapted from their co-credited 1912 Strand
short story “Rallying Round Old George.”
In his introduction to the republication of Not George Washington in 1980, David Jasen writes: “The plot of Not George Washington (was) supplied by Westbrook. But, Plum did the actual writing.” Absent his association with Wodehouse, Westbrook is virtually unknown today. He published three books — The Cause of Catesby, or Gunpowder Treason and Plot from 1905; The Purple Frogs (in collaboration with L. Grossmith) in 1914; and Back Numbers, a collection of short stories in 1918. A rather Wodehousean poem called “A Cold in the Head” appears under Westbrook’s name in the February 1905 Windsor Magazine — I suspect P.G. had at least a hand in it.
For the most part it’s difficult to say which of the two were responsible for writing much of the GBTW material. Broad parodies such as this one don’t lend themselves to attribution very well. Still, Wodehouse’s stylistic hand is quite evident throughout, and we know he wrote prolifically and Westbrook didn’t — by 1908 P.G. had published over five hundred articles, short stories, poems, and his first ten books. A clue to the Wodehouse-Westbrook literary relationship is found in a newly-discovered paragraph printed in the Daily Mail on April 21, 1909, credited to “P.G. Wodehouse and Herbert Westbrook in the Throne,” and (re)published here for the first time:
“Authors are not so much like sheep as fowls in a farmyard. Everyone has seen a fowl discover some bit of food and heard it get a yell of triumph off its chest. That yell is like a trumpet-blast to the other fowls. They swoop down in a body. ‘Hullo!’ they seem to say, ‘old Dickie seems to have got on to a good thing. We must be in this. Come along, you chaps; come and see if we can’t pinch a bit of what old Dickie’s got.’ Authors are just the same.”
That’s either Wodehouse writing up Westbrook’s idea, Westbrook writing in a style echoing P.G.’s, or some type of mish-mashed collaborative effort. Given the evidence of Westbrook’s known work and the character sketches of him in the Wodehouse biographical oeuvre (P.G. dedicated 1904’s The Gold Bat to “Herbert Westbrook, That Prince of Slackers”), it seems unlikely to me that Westbrook did much meaningful creative writing work on GBTW at all. Though close friends at this time, the two grew apart over the years.
I found three reviews of GBTW:
“It is described as a ‘Literary Quick-lunch,’ and that it goes down well hardly needs saying when I state that its cooks are Messrs. P. G. Wodehouse and Herbert Westbrook, the chartered libertines of the ‘By The Way’ column of the Globe, while the plates are amusingly garnished with clever illustrations by Mr. W. K. Haselden, of the Daily Mirror. ‘The Globe By The Way Book’ for such is its pretty name, is a broad smile, more or less, chiefly more, from cover to cover. It ‘whips hypocrisy’ and skits at the follies and fancies and foibles of the day with a light, not to say lightning touch, which tickles a lot but never stings. ‘Buy a bee and grow your own honey. If one bee is not sufficient get two bees, and so on.’ ‘The best way of telling a toadstool from a mushroom is to make the servant eat it. If she turns blue it is a toadstool.’ But to quote more would be giving the book away, whereas it should cost a shilling a copy. Some paper people I know want the earth; others take the Globe; but week-enders cannot afford to be without the ‘By The Way Book’ if they mean to die happily.” (abridged from The World’s Paper Trade Review, London, July–September 1908)
From the Graphic, July 25, 1908:
Something Really Funny. Memories of “Wisdom While You Wait” and its companions, and a not unfavourable comparison, are aroused by the “By the Way Book,” which is issued by the Globe Publishing Company at the price of one shilling. The authors are Mr. P. G. Wodehouse and Mr. Herbert Westbrook, for whose talents the famous “By the Way” column is a sufficient cachet, while the illustrations are by that clever cartoonist, Mr. W. K. Haselden, of the “Daily Mirror.” One of the most delightful features of this really amusing collection of skits is the “Beauty Competition” series. The Rapid Calendar is entertaining, if not entirely new in idea, so is the Lightning Serial, with its ever-varying synopsis and delightfully irrelevant pictures, and one must not omit, either, the specimen extracts from . . . well-known publications.
From the Aberdeen Journal, June 15, 1908:
“ ‘The Globe’ By the Way Book, written by P. G. Wodehouse and Herbert Westbrook and illustrated by W. K. Haselden, of the ‘Daily Mirror’ . . . is based on the lines of ‘Wisdom while you Wait’ and ‘Hustled History’ productions and consists largely of skits on newspapers . . . There is plenty of humour—rather a surfeit of it—and the caricaturing of sensational journalism is very often clever; but its constant repetition palls. We suspect that to read the book through would make one very tired.”
Contemporary critics haven’t been kind to the book either, but for a different reason:
“It consists of extremely dated topical humor.” (Jasen, A Bibliography and Reader’s Guide to the First Editions of P. G. Wodehouse, 1970); “Today it seems an execrable mixture of puns and facetious comment...” (Donaldson, P. G. Wodehouse: A Biography, 1982); “A hundred years on, the By The Way (Book) seems stiff and unfunny... it was one of Wodehouse’s last literary co-productions with Westbrook and unquestionably the worst.” (McCrum, P. G. Wodehouse: A Life, 2004). Richard Usborne, in the Penguin Wodehouse Companion (1976) doesn’t even mention it.
In his mature stories and novels, Wodehouse set the standards by which he is revered — a writer of extraordinary grace, humor and polish and a stylist of the first rank. As he rounded into mid-season form in the 1920s, he began to perfect the stagecraft of the humorous novel. It’s natural to look back through the prism of his many masterpieces at his early work, for instance the series of school stories and books he wrote (to great acclaim, by the way) during his first years as a professional writer, and to find them less satisfying. The school stories were written for a defined market — the English schoolboy of over a hundred years ago — not today’s adult. They are Edwardian juvenilia, not adult fiction, and although successful in their time (he built quite a following with them) they simply cannot compare with his later comic triumphs. So it is with GBTW, a cornucopia full of parodical, silly newspaper features; it’s a satire of London journalism, and poles apart from any of his other books.
Yet it can be fascinating to read the early Wodehouse, not only to see the glimmer of what was to come, but to see what a talented, funny writer he was from the very beginning. Among other things, the book proves Wodehouse to be a first-class satirist — only here, he isn’t winking fondly at earls and peers, he’s aiming his journalistic lance at real-life personalities of the day. GBTW provides a unique window into the world and work of young P.G. Wodehouse. And it is a very funny book, if one takes the time to understand it what it was and, as importantly, what it was not — a book to be compared with Wodehouse’s others. It has to stand and be judged alone. And yes, there are unmistakable and hilarious Wodehousean moments throughout!
The first edition, an inexpensively printed 144-page paperbound volume, now exists only in the rarified libraries of a few world-class collectors. James Heinemann and Sceptre Press produced a limited-edition facsimile with the approval of the Estate in 1985, and Classic Press printed a bootleg facsimile in 2000.
Wodehouse’s satire The Swoop (published two months earlier in April) can be said be a companion book to GBTW. Part fiction, part real people and events, it addresses the national preoccupations with cricket, domestic and international politics, and music hall entertainment — all prominent features of GBTW. The Swoop mentions many of the people the authors write about in GBTW: George Robey, Tom Hayward, Hall Caine, Eugene Sandow, Edgar Wallace, Raisuli, Dr. Saleeby, Horatio Bottomley, G.R. Sims, and so on. The Swoop contains a hilarious take-off of the writing of an British author named Bart Kennedy, also parodied to great effect in GBTW.
Kennedy and these others have mostly faded into history, but knowing who they were and why they were written about brings these excerpts back to life and allows the humor of GBTW to shine through the years.
Our Rapid Calendar
A monthly collection of “future facts” extending from June 1908 to May 1909. Prophetic calendars had been used by Punch and others for years.
June 1908 — (Each day, the weather is “raining, cloudy, wet, showers, Scotch mists, pouring, more rain, frequent showers, frequent deluges, more rain”)
1. The Times founded by Noah, b.c. 2036. Shem first editor.
2. Algernon Ashton contributes letter to Times, b.c. 2036.
3. Offices of Times moved to Mount Ararat, b.c. 2036.
4. Ham formulates first encyclopædia scheme, b.c. 2036.
5. “Times Book Club” founded by Japhet, b.c. 2036.
6. The Radicals explain their latest defeat at the By-Elections.
7. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted for boat-racing on the Danube.
8. Ptolemy II inaugurates Limerick Competition, b.c. 9078.
9. Ptolemy II wins sacred cat for last line, b.c. 9078.
10. Ptolemy II tries to find rhyme to Pyramid, b.c. 9078.
11. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Pyramids.
12. Queen Elizabeth enters for “Daily Mirror Beauty Competition.”
13. Sir Walter Raleigh resigns editorship of Daily Mirror.
14. Earl of Leicester appointed editor of Daily Mirror.
15. Queen Elizabeth sends in another photograph.
16. Earl of Leicester resigns editorship of Daily Mirror.
17. Daily Mail publishes an account of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815.
18. Battle of Waterloo, 1815.
19. Experts say we are going to have fine weather next month.
20. Queen Elizabeth appoints herself editress of Daily Mirror.
21. “Daily Mirror Beauty Competition” won by Queen Elizabeth.
23. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
24. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now he is Premier.
29. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of Neolithic man.
30. President Roosevelt says that something must be done about the Trusts.
Shem: one of the sons of Noah (Genesis). The Times was first published in 1785; the joke makes fun of the age of the paper.
Algernon Ashton: Ashton was a piano professor at the Royal College of Music but best known (and widely satirized) primarily as an inveterate “letter-to-the-editor” writer. “Has revolutionized the Correspondence column of the Press. Educated at Leipsig, where, at the age of ten, his communication on the subject of “Open Jam Tarts” was rejected by the “Leipsig Courier”; got writer’s cramp, Dec. 1907; is entertained annually by the Waste Paper Basket Manufacturer’s Association. Recreations: Reading other people’s letters.” (Who’s Who is a feature of GBTW consisting of silly biographies of prominent people. I’ve interpolated these biographies in some places.)
Mount Ararat: Where Noah’s Ark landed, according to the Book of Genesis.
Ham: a son of Noah
Encyclopædia scheme: In the years 1890–1911 The Times was involved in selling the Encyclopædia Britannica. Horace E. Hooper, President, was affiliated with the owners of the Times and planned to buy the paper and combine both into an immense publishing business. Extensive, well-publicized litigation between Hooper and his partners ensued, and the “encyclopædia scheme” never developed.
Times Book Club: From 1905 to 1907, The Times operated a combination circulating library and second-hand bookshop called the Times Book Club, which sold some 600,000 books. The club was immensely popular with the public, but received a great deal of negative publicity due to a boycott by London publishers and booksellers, who objected to the sale of used books within six months of their publication dates.
Japhet: son of Noah
Radicals: In 1900, representatives of various trade unions and of the Independent Labour Party, Fabian Society and Social Democratic Federation agreed to form a labour party backed by the unions with Scotsman Keir Hardie as its leader. It then affiliated with the Socialist International Party and in 1906 changed its name to the Labour Party. It formed an electoral pact with the Liberals, intending to cause maximum damage to the Conservative Government in the forthcoming election; 29 Labour M.P.s were subsequently elected. Labour was the first political party in Great Britain to stand for the representation of the low-paid working class, and favored socialist policies such as public ownership of key industries, government intervention in the economy, redistribution of wealth, increased rights for workers and trade unions, and a belief in the welfare state and publicly funded healthcare and education. The term “Radicals” was used collectively to describe those whose drastic ideology upset the more traditional members of British society and government.
By-Election: a special election held to fill vacant political offices; because they had little influence on the general governance, voters felt freer to elect smaller fringe parties on both the far right-wing and the far left-wings.
Ptolemy II: (309 BC—246 BC) King of Egypt; Limerick, the city and the county seat of the Republic of Ireland, is said to have been the regia (remote headquarters) of Ptolemy. The authors have crafted a clever pun on “Ptolemy” and “Limerick.”
German Emperor: Prince Frederick William Victor Albert of Prussia (Kaiser Wilhelm) (1859–1941) last German Emperor and King of Prussia 1888–1918. He pursued a policy of massive naval construction and built a fleet to rival that of his British cousins. His theory was that Germany could force Britain to accede to German demands in the international arena through the threat posed by a powerful battle fleet concentrated in the North Sea. Most felt, rightly, that he was arming for war.
(Thomas Henry) Hall Caine (1853–1931) was a highly successful novelist and playwright of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. He was a short man who tended to dress in a striking fashion. His eyes were dark brown and slightly protuberant, giving him an intense stare. He had red-gold hair and a dark red beard which he trimmed (it was said) to appear like the Stratford bust of Shakespeare. His friend Bram Stoker dedicated the iconic 1897 book Dracula to him. Caine took full advantage of his enormous popularity, being interviewed and photographed for numerous magazines and periodicals, his ponderous opinions on various issues being widely quoted. Although his books were popular, they were criticized for their “intellectual pretense.” Shaw referred to them “overwrought and didactic.” Benny Green (P. G. Wodehouse, A Literary Biography) writes “Beerbohm claimed that Caine was so ridiculous that at Edwardian parties you could raise a laugh simply by pronouncing his name.” Wodehouse mocked Caine mercilessly — with over 50 blurbs in Books of To-day and elsewhere — throughout the early days. Harold Begbie at ‘By The Way’ began lampooning Caine prior to P.G.’s arrival there, including in his 1901 book Great Men.
Queen Elizabeth I: (1533–1603) Queen of England 1558–1603; called the “Virgin Queen” because she never married. There were rumors that she would only marry one man, Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester, with whom she was deeply in love. As she grew older, Elizabeth became famous for her virginity, and a cult grew up around her which was celebrated in portraits, pageants and literature. In fact, though, her skin had been scarred by smallpox in 1562, leaving her half bald, homely, and dependent on wigs and cosmetics; thus the joke on her entrance in a beauty contest.
Sir Walter Raleigh: (c.1552–1618), one of the foremost poets of the Elizabethan era, writer, soldier, courtier and explorer. He rose rapidly in Queen Elizabeth’s favor, being knighted in 1585. In 1591 he secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting, without requesting the Queen’s permission, for which he and his wife were sent to the Tower of London. The joke here is that Raleigh resigned the editorship the day after Queen Elizabeth entered the beauty contest, to avoid the inevitable repercussions should she lose the contest.
Earl of Leicester: Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (1533–1588) was the long-standing favorite of Elizabeth I of England. On Elizabeth’s succession, salacious rumors about he and Elizabeth were rife although Dudley was married. He too resigns the editorship to avoid Elizabeth’s wrath should she (inevitably) lose the contest.
Theodore Roosevelt: United States President 1901–1909, he distrusted monopolies (such as John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil) and made “trust busting” a central theme of his early presidency. Here the authors mock his fiery and relentless speeches against the trusts, inferring that while he was good at talking about them, he wasn’t successful in doing anything about them.
Herbert H. Asquith (1852–1928) Prime Minister 1908–1916. The Asquith government became involved in an expensive naval arms race with the German Empire and began an extensive social welfare program which included the National Insurance and pensions. The continuing joke here that Asquith is “wondering what to do now that he is Premier” while the reality was his ambitious programs resulted in criticism that he was trying to do too much too soon. (When raised to the peerage in 1925, his title was given in the form Earl of Oxford and Asquith. He was an admirer of Wodehouse’s work, and Wodehouse mentions him in The Intrusion of Jimmy (1910) and dedicated 1927’s Meet Mr. Mulliner: “To the Earl of Oxford and Asquith.”
July 1908 — (The weather is “wet, more wet, showery, very wet, still raining, heavy downpour, thunder, deluge, showery.”)
1. C. B. Fry writes article on “How to Hold Your Gloves When Batting” for Daily Express.
2. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the drink question.
3. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
4. The Radicals say that Beer defeated them at the By-Elections.
5. New Labour daily distributes 100,000 copies gratis.
6. Circulation of new Labour daily 100,000.
7. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
8. Experts say that we are going to have fine weather next month.
9. Dr. Saleeby speaks on Cold Storage.
10. “Down with the Beer” new Radical cry.
11. The Beer goes down.
13. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted to protect the German sardine trade.
14. Hayward scores 55 in 4½ hours.
19. Hall Caine tells what he thinks of Jew-baiting in Russia.
21. Bishop of London definitely gives up the Elephant Puzzle.
22. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Elephant Puzzle.
23. The farmers pray for more rain or they will be ruined.
24. A.B.C. started by T.P. O’Connor.
25. X.Y.Z. inaugurated by T. P. O’Connor.
26. President Roosevelt says that something must be done about the Trusts.
28. The German Emperor says his Navy is for North Pole exploration.
29. R.O.T. started by T. P. O’Connor.
30. Mr. Keir Hardie says that animals ought to be enfranchised.
31. The Daily Mail says a great many are already.
(Charles Burgess) C. B. Fry: (1872–1956) English polymath; outstanding sportsman, politician, teacher, writer, editor and publisher. Fry was most noted for his cricketing achievements. At Oxford, he got his Blue for cricket, athletics, and Association football. The joke here is that Fry was so accomplished he could even hold a pair of gloves while batting. He was Athletics Editor at The Captain, in which dozens of pieces of Wodehouse’s early work appeared. P.G. wrote Love Among the Chickens for C. B. Fry’s Magazine, but it was rejected and ended up being published in book form by Newnes in 1906. “b. April 25, 1872; lowered World’s Toddling record, 1873, and reported the contest for “Baby’s Own Weekly.” Captained Oxford at Cricket, Football, Athletics, Diablo, Hopscotch, Chess, Draughts, Bicycling, Jiu-jitsu, Hockey, Spillikins, and Halma; and only missed his Ping-Pong Blue because he fractured the radius bone of his bazooka on the eve of the match.” (Who’s Who)
Dr. Saleeby: Caleb Williams Saleeby (1878–1940) English obstetrician, journalist, prolific author, and eugenist whose books included Parenthood and Race Culture — An Outline of Eugenics (1909) and The Methods of Race-Regeneration (1911). The “cold storage” reference here jokes that that Saleeby is advocating a method to do away with those of whom he doesn’t approve.
Down with the beer: A reference to Asquith’s proposed Licensing Act which involved taxation of public houses and spirits; it was unpopular and led to the defeat of Radical candidates in 1908 By-elections. “No Licensing Bill they ever made would stop him drinking a glass of beer or having a whisky and soda. They were told that if the Licensing Bill was passed it would in time do away with drink.” (Bath Chronicle, April 2, 1908.)
(Thomas) Hayward: (1871–1939) All-England Eleven cricketer who was generally reckoned to be one of the outstanding batsmen of the early twentieth century.
Jew-baiting: Official anti-Semitism in modern Russia can be traced to 1881, when Jews were wrongly blamed for the assassination of Alexander II. The new czar, Alexander III, blamed them for the riots and introduced regulations that stayed in effect for more than thirty years. A larger wave of pogroms broke out 1903–1906, leaving an estimated 1,000 Jews dead, and around 7000–8000 wounded. “Jew-baiting” was a commonly-used euphemism for anti-Semitism for many years.
Elephant Puzzle: A folding-paper game, in which the various parts of an elephant are silhouetted on either side of a star-shaped piece of paper — the challenge is to fold and refold the paper so that the image of the elephant is complete.
Bishop of London: Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram (1858–1946) was Bishop of London from 1901 to 1939. The joke is that such an eminent personage should deign to work a common newspaper puzzle.
T. P. O’Connor: Thomas Power O’Connor (1848–1929), journalist and politician, Irish Nationalist M.P. He founded several newspapers and journals: the Star (1887), the Weekly Sun (1891), the Sun (1893), M.A.P. (Mainly About People) and T.P.’s Weekly (1902). He promised that The Star would “champion the cause of the underprivileged and highlight the needs of working class families.” He served in parliament for several decades until his death in 1929. A.B.C., X.Y.Z. and R.O.T. are takeoffs on M.A.P.
(James) Keir Hardie: (1856–1915) Scottish socialist and labor leader; in the 1892 General Election he became the country’s first socialist M.P. The tradition at that time was for M.P.s to wear top hats and long black coats; Hardie created a sensation by entering Parliament wearing a cloth cap and tweed suit. In Parliament he advocated a graduated income tax, free schooling, pensions, the abolition of the House of Lords, and the women’s right to vote. The joke here is that Hardie was so radical he even wanted to give animals the vote. His entry in GBTW’s “Who’s Who” gives no doubt how the Conservative Globe felt about him: “b. Aug. 15, 1856; Inverted patriot; Delivered warm speech in pro-boot-boy interest, on occasion of that servitor being dismissed for stealing the sherry, 1862; first spanked, 1862; played football for Oxford vs. Cambridge, 1877, and scored eleven goals against his own side; visited India and Australia in 1907, to the disgust of both. Recreations: Inciting foreigners (any sort but black preferred) to attack Great Britain. Wrote ‘How I Became a Suffragette,’ 1906.” (Who’s Who)
August 1908 — (The weather is “Wet” every day of the month.)
1. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of jam-making.
4. C. B. Fry writes an article on “How to Cut Your Nails for Batting.”
7. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now he is Premier.
10. The farmers pray for more rain or they will be ruined.
12. C. B. Fry writes an article on the value of “Anturic Salts for Wicket-Keepers.”
15. Mr. John Burns says £5,000 a year is enough for anyone.
17. The Serpentine frozen over. Skating general at seaside resorts.
19. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of self-advertisement.
20. W. G. Grace signs on for Chelsea for next season.
21. The German Emperor says his Navy is for yacht racing on the Rhine.
22. Test Match team completed by inclusion of Danny Maher.
25. Mr. Keir Hardie says that killing animals for food must be stopped.
26. Perhaps he has valid reasons, says a paper, for advocating this.
27. President Roosevelt says that something must be done about the Trusts.
31. Nothing in the papers to-day about Hackenschmidt, Winston Churchill, Hall Caine, Christabel Pankhurst. National illuminations
Anturic Salts for Wicket-Keepers: “Anturic Bath Salts is the real remedy. It positively cures in the bath. Anturic Bath Salts cures by penetrating the skin, dissolving the poisonous uric acid salts, and discharging them from the system. Whether the complaint is in its early or advanced stage, the result is always the same, because Anturic Bath Salts completely eradicate the cause.” (Medical Press and Circular, London, July 1905). In cricket, the wicket-keeper is the player on the fielding side who characteristically crouches throughout the game behind the wicket or stumps being guarded by the batsman currently on strike.
John Elliot Burns (1858–1943) trade unionist, socialist and politician, called “The Man With the Red Flag.” His political interests included women’s suffrage, working hours and conditions, employment, pensions, poor laws, temperance, social conditions, local government, South African labour, and the Boer War. Wodehouse mentions Burns in his lyrics to “Oh, Mr. Chamberlain,” from the Beauty of Bath in 1906.
The Serpentine: 28-acre recreational lake in Hyde Park; yet another joke on the unpredictable weather, e.g., it was frozen over in August.
W. G. (William Gilbert) Grace: (1848–1915) English cricketer who by his extraordinary skills made cricket a popular spectator sport. He played Test cricket against Australia from 1880 onwards, but he was already past his peak at that stage. The joke here is that in 1908, Grace was sixty years old.
Danny Maher: (1881–1916) American Hall of Fame jockey who also became a Champion jockey in Great Britain — the joke simply placing an American jockey on the English cricket team, a Gilbertesque “topsy-turvy” device Wodehouse used often. A Test match is the longest form of the sport of cricket, considered to be the ultimate test of playing ability between cricketing nations.
Hackenschmidt: Georg Karl Julius Hackenschmidt (1878–1968), professional wrestler known as “The Russian Lion” and the first recognized World Heavyweight Champion; he originated the “Bear Hug” in that sport. He was undefeated until he squared off against Frank Gotch on April 3, 1908 in Chicago. (see Gotch) Wodehouse liked wrestling and loved the name “Hackenschmidt” — he mentioned him often in the early days, notably in the poem “De Tea” from the Daily Chronicle of February 15, 1904, wherein he rhymes “bitterly” with “Hackenschmidtily.” He gets another mention in Wodehouse’s 1906 lyric “Oh, Mr. Chamberlain” and in the story “Wilton’s Holiday” (Strand, July 1915): “He reached out, and folded her in an embrace which would have aroused the professional enthusiasm of Hackenschmidt. . .”
Winston Churchill: (1874–1965) Served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, and First Lord of the Admiralty as part of the Asquith Liberal government. In Parliament, he was associated with a faction of the Conservative Party but in 1904 crossed the floor to sit as a member of the Liberal Party. In 1908 he introduced the Trade Boards Bill setting up the first minimum wages in Britain. He also assisted in passing the People’s Budget, which included the introduction of new taxes on the wealthy to allow for the creation of new social welfare programs. In these early years, Churchill was brash and outspoken and missed no opportunity for publicity. As the joke infers, he was in the papers every day.
Christabel Harriett Pankhurst: (1880–1958) Suffragette; in 1903 along with her mother and sister founded the Women’s Social and Political Union. In 1905, she interrupted a Liberal Party meeting by shouting demands for voting rights for women, was arrested, and went to prison rather than pay a fine. From elsewhere in GBTW:
To-day’s Great Thought: America talks boastingly of her athletes, but I have seen an English policeman, though not in training for athletic feats, beat both long jump and hundred yards records. I was after him with a hat-pin at the time. —Mrs. Pankhurst.
“Five Minutes At the Academy: The Woman’s Part. Shall she vote for the Radical or the Unionist? The former promises Home Rule (which sounds as it ought to be helpful to women), but, on the other hand, his opponent owns a lovely dark moustache.”
For more on Wodehouse’s writing on Suffragettes, see The Books of To-Day and the Books of To-morrow, “Mems for Members” (March 1906), “The Premier to the Suffragettes” (June 1906), “Suffragette Songs” (April 1907), and “Women Workers” (February 1908). These references and more are collected in my article O, Woman! Wodehouse, the Globe, and the Suffragettes.
National illuminations: Widespread festivities with bonfires or colored lamps, celebrating a break from these over-reported news topics.
September 1908 — (The weather is “rain, more rain, wet, pouring, still raining, snow, sleet, lightning, heavy snow, blizzards, downpour.”)
1. Tailor and Cutter founded. Adam first editor.
2. Tailor and Cutter denounces Serpent as not dressy.
4. Daily Mail starts three special newspaper trains to Yorkshire.
5. Yorkshire Post sneers at Daily Mail.
9. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Yorkshire Post.
11. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Daily Mail.
12. Daily Mail North Pole edition started. H. de Windt first editor.
13. Hackenschmidt succeeds H. de Windt, and Bart Kennedy, Hackenschmidt.
14. Harold Begbie succeeds Bart Kennedy, and Hamilton Fyffe, Harold Begbie.
15. Caruso succeeds Hamilton Fyffe, and Keri Hardie, Caruso.
16. Editors for the day, Lord Dalmeny, Hayward, and Padoubny.
18. Daily Mail Pekin edition started. Edgar Wallace first editor.
19. Edmund Payne succeeds Edgar Wallace, and Max Darewski succeeds Edmund Payne.
20. Editors for the day, Messrs. Gamage, Lipton, and Gunner Moir.
21. Experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
22. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now he is Premier.
24. Sporting Times amalgamated with Guardian. Canon Hensley Henson editor.
25. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
26. Seymour Hicks not photographed with baby. Riot at Aldwych Theatre.
27. Seymour Hicks hooted by picture-postcard collectors in Strand.
28. Seymour Hicks escorted to and from theatre by police.
29. Windows of Aldwych Theatre broken by mob.
30. Seymour Hicks again photographed with baby. Order restored.
Tailor and Cutter and Outfitting News: Longstanding London paper (founded 1866) of interest to tailors, clothiers and outfitters, it contained “sartorial interviews with well-known people and local trade news.” The paper was scandalized in 1925 by losing the famous feature article “What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing” to rival publication Milady’s Boudoir.
H. de Windt: Captain Harry Willis D. de Windt (1856–1933), aide-de-camp to the Rajah of Sarawak; explorer and author of many books about his travels. When it came to dash and flair, few nineteenth-century adventure travelers could compete with de Windt. A Fellow of the prestigious Royal Geographic Society of England, de Windt had a reputation for bravery and foolhardiness. He announced he was traveling west, but instead of crossing the Atlantic on a ship like everyone else, de Windt traveled east across Siberia by horse-drawn sleigh, over the Arctic Ocean by dog-sled, through Canada by boat, and finally through the deserts of the United States by train, before finally reaching his destination in faraway New York. “Reckless explorer; against entreaties of his friends explored desolate Clapham Common and returned safely. Since then has risked his life in many of the wildest parts of the world, including Tooting Bec, Ball’s Pond (where he had a ferocious encounter with a sticklebat), and Shepherd’s Bush.” (Who’s Who)
Bart Kennedy (1861–1930) was a socialist, writer, world traveler and lecturer. Self-described as a “tramp in America, an Indian friend and Indian fighter, Klondike gold miner before the Rush, an opera singer and actor.” Wodehouse savagely parodies Kennedy’s terse writing style both in The Swoop and here:
“An author. A writer of books. Books. He writes books. He has travelled. He has travelled all over the world. East, West, North, South. A traveller. A man who has travelled. Carmelite House. That journalistic bee-hive. One of the workers. A bee, not a drone. A man. A man who has worked. An author.” (Who’s Who)
(Edward) Harold Begbie: (1871–1929) English author and journalist, published nearly 50 books of elegiac and inspirational poems, political satire, popular verse and children’s literature. He worked for the Daily Chronicle and later the Globe, where he was editor of the By The Way and Wodehouse’s boss 1903–1904.
(Henry) Hamilton Fyffe: (1869–1951) Journalist, critic, editor and author; supporter of the Conservative Party. After working as the theatre critic of The Times, Fyfe became editor of the Morning Advertiser in 1902, the youngest newspaper editor in Britain. The following year he was appointed editor of The Daily Mirror and later edited the Daily Mail.
Enrico Caruso: (1873–1921) Italian opera singer, arguably the greatest tenor in history; he was the most popular singer in any genre in the first two decades of the 20th century and a pioneer of recorded music.
Lord Dalmeny: Harry Primrose, later 6th Earl of Rosebery, (1882–1974), had the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny until his father’s death in 1929. At the time of GBTW, he was a Liberal Member of Parliament but better known as a first-class cricketer, captaining Surrey 1905–07. His later political career included service in the House of Lords and briefly as Secretary of State for Scotland.
Padoubny: Ivan Poddubny (1871–1949) Ukrainian wrestler; raised on a farm, he started wrestling in traveling Russian circuses in 1896. His measurements were height: 6′0; weight: 264 pounds; biceps: 12 inches; chest: 4 feet; thighs: 2 feet. He died undefeated.
Edgar Wallace: (1875—1932) British crime novelist, journalist, playwright (and friend of Wodehouse’s) who wrote 175 books. He’s most famous today as the co-creator of “King Kong” and for creating the Green Archer character. Wodehouse dedicated 1925’s Sam the Sudden to him. The Pekin reference refers to the international aspect of his early stories.
Edmund Payne: (1865–1914) actor, comedian, singer and dramatist known for his comic appearances in Edwardian musical comedy. He was a colleague of Wodehouse collaborator George Grossmith Jr.
Max Darewski: (1894–1929) English child musical prodigy, composer, conductor, pianist and music hall performer.
A. W. Gamage, founder of a department store at 116–128 Holborn in Central London. Gamage’s was known for its toy department and advertised in Chums, a boys’ magazine, to which Wodehouse contributed his short novel The Luck Stone in 1908 — which included a plug for Gamage’s.
Thomas Johnstone Lipton: (1848–1931) Scotsman, yachtsman, founder of the Lipton tea empire; Satirized here for his ubiquitous advertising in newspapers and all over London. Earlier, in the ‘By The Way’ columns ca. 1903, Lipton was teased for his continuing unsuccessful attempts to win the World Cup.
Gunner Moir: British heavyweight boxing champion 1906–1909.
The Sporting Times (founded 1865) was a weekly British newspaper devoted chiefly to sport, and in particular to horse racing. It was informally known as The Pink ’Un, as it was printed on pink paper.
Canon Hensley Henson: (1863–1947) Anglican priest, in the public eye from 1892 after he referred to dissenting Protestant churches as “emissaries of Satan.”
Seymour Hicks: (1871–1949) Actor, music hall performer, playwright, screenwriter, theatre manager and producer; married actress Ellaline Terriss in 1893. Hicks co-wrote The Beauty of Bath in 1906 which included an interpolated song by Wodehouse and Kern, their first collaboration. Wodehouse portrays Hicks as the character Higgs in The Head of Kay’s in 1905, and as Stanley Briggs in Not George Washington in 1907. Here, Wodehouse is poking fun at his friend Hicks for including a photograph of himself, Ellaline, and baby Betty in The Beauty of Bath press material.
Aldwych Theatre: Founded by Seymour Hicks and Charles Frohman, the theatre opened in 1905. “The decorations are in the Georgian style and the general appearance of the handsome and ornate interior is pleasing in the extreme. The prevailing scheme in crimson, cream and gold and the contrast with Rose du Barri draperies and upholstery is striking and artistically effective. One of the innovations that will be greatly appreciated by the male members of the audience is a commodious ‘smokers’ gallery’ above the entrance hall.”
October 1908 — (Weather is “threatening, stormy, wet, damp, heavy frost, more rain, pouring, snow, still raining.”)
1. The Radicals explain their latest defeat at the By-Elections.
2. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the By-Elections.
3. Socialists march on Daily Express offices.
4. Battle of Shoe Lane. Comrade Wabbs captured by office-boys.
5. Experts say that we shall have fine weather next month.
6. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
7. Comrade Jack Williams captures the Daily Express Parrot.
8. Alcoholic drinks prohibited in House of Commons. 672 members resign.
12. The farmers pray for heavy rain or next year’s crops will be ruined.
17. Five teetotal members of Parliament discovered. All raised to the Peerage.
18. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted to watch Switzerland.
19. President Roosevelt says that something must be done about the Trusts.
21. 30,000 men thrown out of work in Stepney.
27. Mr. G. R. Sims’s toy pomeranian catches cold.
28. 150,000 Refereaders wire sympathy.
Shoe Lane: The offices of the Daily Express were at 112–129 Shoe Lane, which abutted Fleet Street.
Comrade Wabbs: There apparently was a Radical socialist named A. A. Wabbs but I can find no information on him other than a mention of his public speaking at Tower Bridge (Liberty Review, v.22, p. 284). P.G. mentions him in “Society Gossip” (Books of To-Day, November 1907) and in “Women, Wine and Song!” from GBTW.
Comrade Jack Williams and the Daily Express: John Edward Williams, known among Socialists as “Jack Williams,” sued the proprietors of the Daily Express to recover damages for alleged libel. In an article Plaintiff was alleged to have applied to the Kaiser an epithet of the worst possible nature, and it expressed wonder that Williams was not arrested for using obscene language. Plaintiff admitted calling the Emperor a scoundrel, but that he only used the world politically. The jury, without leaving the box, gave a verdict for the Daily Express. (Derby Daily Telegraph, July 14, 1908) The joke is that Williams, a known enemy of the paper, stole the:
Daily Express Parrot: From September to December 1903, Wodehouse contributed to a series of 48 verses for the Daily Express, a pro-Chamberlain conservative paper; these verses, mouthed by a parrot, poked fun at the liberal opposition to free trade, with the stanzas all ending in the phrase “Your food will cost you more.” The Parrot series was extremely popular and even received press in the United States. This account from the New York Times of December 19, 1903, tells the story:
Before the Tariff Reform campaign had been running very long, somebody suggested that the opponents to Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme were like a lot of parrots, with nothing to offer in answer to the arguments for protection except to iterate and reiterate “Your food will cost you more.” The Express one day remarked to the free-fooders: “That being all you have to say, why do any talking yourselves? Have some real parrots present your side of the controversy.” A little later the Express undertook to show London that its proposition was a practical one, and to this end advertised a fiscal parrot competition, in which the parrot who could most impressively say “Your food will cost you more” would receive £25. Hundreds and hundreds of parrots in London and thereabouts were put into training, and scores of them appeared on Thursday at St. James Hall to show how well they could voice the free-fooders contention. There was plenty of swearing and shrieking, but little speechmaking on the fiscal question. The winner was a gray African, and when he said “Your food will cost you more” after five minutes of profound fiscal reflection, his judgment greatly impressed both his feathered and non-feathered auditors except one, an old hen parrot from Brazil, who angrily shrieked back “You’re a liar!”
Wodehouse wrote of this event in his article “Screech Day” in the Daily Express, December 18, 1903. The Parrot poems were collected in a book published by Hutchinson in 1988, and are online at this site. The most authoritative source for information about them is Terry Mordue’s annotated web page.
Stepney was a slum settlement in London and the joke here is a facetious one.
G. R. (George Robert) Sims: (1847–1922) Journalist and author of How the Poor Live (1883); his articles on the housing of the poor in the Daily News helped to arouse public opinion on the subject. He was a noted dog lover, member of the Kennel Club, and raised Dalmatians and bulldogs; the authors give Sims a toy dog here in jest.
Refereaders: A blend-word coined by the weekly sporting paper The Referee (founded 1877) as a name for its readers. (Cf. Karl Sundén, Elliptical Words in Modern English, 1904) G. R. Sims (see above) wrote a weekly column for The Referee.
November 1908 — (Weather is “wet, blizzards, sleet, storms, deluge, still raining, more snow.”)
1. Mr. Harvey du Cros stung on nose by wasp.
2. Autocar appears with black border.
3. Mr. du Cros interviewed by Lancet.
4. Lancet contains article headed “Motorists and Wasps.”
5. Hall Caine tells what he thinks of dangerous insects.
6. The Radicals explain their latest defeat at the By-Elections.
10. The German emperor says his Navy is wanted to protect Germany from invasion by Persia.
14. Fresh attack on House of Lords by the Radicals.
15. Messrs. Lloyd-George, Runciman, and Reggie McKenna created Peers.
16. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
17. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Trust system.
19. Miss Gertie Millar photographed side face.
20. The photographer called upon to apologize.
21. Mr. Keir Hardie advocates every man to work and save money.
22. Mr. Keir Hardie advocates weekly wages for those who don’t work and save.
23. Mr. Keir Hardie’s ancestor visits the French lines at Waterloo.
24. And gives them a few tips and encouragement in their great struggle.
27. Experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
28. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of England and English people.
29. Algernon Ashton disappears altogether.
30. Nothing in the papers to-day about Free Trade, Alcoholic Excess, the Socialists or Suffragettes. National illuminations.
Harvey du Cros was an Irish sportsman and industrialist who served as a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1906; he co-founded the Dunlop Tire company and made a fortune with the introduction of the automobile.
Autocar: magazine founded in 1895 “in the interests of the mechanically propelled road carriage” when, it is believed, there were only six or seven cars in the United Kingdom. The “black border” reference is that the magazine is in mourning due to du Cros’ wasp sting.
Lancet: one of the oldest medical journals in the world, founded in 1823.
Lloyd-George: David Lloyd George (1863–1945) British Prime Minister who brought in the “People’s Budget,” which introduced taxation on land for the first time, starting the process of destroying the great estates of England [Norman Murphy]; he stripped the House of Lords of their power in 1911. Wodehouse’s song “The Chancellor of the Exchequer” (Nuts and Wine, 1914) parodies him. The 1908 joke is that he would be made a peer when he was intent on destroying the aristocracy.
Runciman: (Walter 1837–1947) author, steamship operator and Liberal politician whose career included service as M.P. and President of the Board of Trade in Asquith’s cabinet. Same joke as with Lloyd-George.
Reginald McKenna: (1863–1943) Liberal British statesman, served in Asquith’s government as President of the Board of Education, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Home Secretary. Same joke as with Lloyd-George.
Gertie Millar: (1879–1952) English singer-actress known for her performances in Edwardian musical comedies; one of the most photographed women of the Edwardian period. She married songwriter Lionel Monckton in 1902. I’m not sure what the “side-face” reference is to unless it refers to candid as opposed to posed photos.
Free trade: a geo-economic construct in which the trade of goods and services between countries flows unhindered by government-imposed restrictions including increased costs to goods and services, producers, businesses, and customers; may include taxes and tariffs as well as regulatory legislation and quotas.
December 1908 — (the weather is “wet, snow, more rain, hailstorms, more hail, heavy rain, downpour.”)
4. An English duke marries a penniless American girl for love.
5. Dr. McNamara helps Radical candidate at a By-Election.
6. Another Unionist win at the By-Election.
7. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of pseudoneurotics.
8. Hall Caine tells us what the thinks of dairy farming.
9. Hall Caine tells us what the thinks of higher education.
10. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Suffragettes.
11. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of party government.
13. Experts says we shall have fine weather next month.
14. The editor at the Globe takes three weeks’ holiday.
15. The Globe circulation goes up 50 per cent.
16. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted to defend the interests of Germany in Finland.
17. The farmers pray for more rain or next year’s crops will be ruined.
20. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
25. Christmas Day! Rent, rates, and taxes due.
26. Boxing Day! Christmas bills pouring in.
31. Christmas bills, rent, rates, and taxes still unpaid.
An English duke marries a penniless American girl for love: Topsy-turvy parody of the trend that existed around 1874–1914: “In the heyday of marriages of American heiresses to British aristocrats, some 118 ladies brought much-needed funds into the peerage. . .” [Norman Murphy] The idea being, of course, that the title was attractive to the girl, and the money was attractive to the man.
Dr. (Thomas James) MacNamara: (1861–1931) educator and Liberal Member of Parliament (1900–1906). He and fellow Irishman Reginald McKenna were derisively referred to by opponents as “The Two Macs.” The joke is that on the 5th day of the month, MacNamara helps a Radical candidate; on the 6th, election day, the candidate loses to a Conservative (Unionist) candidate.
Boxing Day, a public holiday on December 26th based on the tradition of giving gifts to the less fortunate members of society.
January 1909 — (Weather is “wet, misty, fog, dense fog, more fog, fog, very wet, showery, fog and snow, downpour, raining”)
1. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
2. Answers offers prize of £10,000, a new billiard table, and 500 cigars.
4. Tit-Bits offers prize of £10,000, a new billiard table, and 500 cigars.
5. Pearson’s Weekly offers prize of £10,000, a new billiard table, and 500 cigars.
6. The “By the Way” column in the Globe discontinued.
7. The Globe circulation doubled.
8. The German Emperor says his Navy is to teach the Crown Prince boat-building.
9. The experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
10. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
11. Answers offers a prize of £200 a year, a new house, and a bag of golf clubs.
12. Tit-Bits offers a prize of £200 a year, a new house, and a bag of golf clubs.
13. Pearson’s Weekly offers a prize of £200 a year, a new house, and a bag of golf clubs.
14. Answers, Tit-Bits, and Pearson’s Weekly editors deny that they copy each other’s ideas.
15. Dr. McNamara helps Radical candidate in current By-Election.
16. Another Unionist gain in the By-Election.
17. Novel war-cry “Votes for Women!” invented and patented by Suffragettes.
18. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of antiseptic surgery.
19. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of horse-breeding.
20. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of mollusks as food.
21. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of British trade.
22. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of our judicial system.
23. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
24. Grand Mass Meeting of Suffragettes on Mr. Asquith’s doorstep. Policeman removes them both.
25. The farmers want more rain or they say next year’s crops will be ruined.
27. The German Emperor says that his Navy is wanted to support England in times of stress.
29. The Government pass Bill to stop patent medicine advertisements in morning papers.
30. Scare in Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph offices.
The authors parody the ubiquitous newspaper promotions of the day and take a swipe at their reliance on advertisements.
February 1909 — (the weather is “dull, duller, damp, very wet, more rain, less rain, fog and rain, foggy, deluge, stormy”)
1. The farmers say they want more rain or they will be ruined.
2. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
8. The weather experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
11. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
12. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of English incompetence.
13. Many English people incompetent to say what they think of Hall Caine.
14. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
16. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
19. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted to guard German interests in Heligoland.
24. A coachman runs away from historic castle with duke’s daughter.
25. Weekly Dispatch great new serial “From Castle to Cottage” starts.
26. The Globe’s weather expert predicts heat wave.
27. Fourteen inches of snow fall in Trafalgar Square in two hours.
28. Nothing in the papers today about the German Emperor, The Licensing Bill, Raisuli, The Olympic Games, or Lipton’s tea. Further National illuminations.
Heligoland is a small German archipelago in the North Sea.
Licensing Bill: “An Act to amend the law relating to the sale of Intoxicating Liquors and to Drunkenness, and to provide for the Registration of Clubs.”
Raisuli: Mulai Ahmed el Raisuni (1871–1925, known as Raisuli) was the Sharif (descendant of Mohammed) of a tribe in Morocco at the turn of the 20th century and considered himself the rightful heir to the throne of Morocco. He was known as “The Last of the Barbary Pirates” and involved in several notorious kidnapping-for-ransom episodes. “Tall, remarkably handsome, with the whitest of skins, a short dark beard and a moustache, and black eyes, with profile Greek rather than Semitic, and eyebrows that formed a straight line across his forehead. A typical and ideal bandit.” (Gloucester Citizen, January 10, 1907) He was mentioned by Wodehouse in “Now That My Ship’s Come Home” from The Gay Gordons in 1907.
March 1909 — (Weather is “chilly, cold, damp, foggy, showers, Fine, still fine, fair, changeable, cloudy, dull, slight rain, more rain, raining, stormy, deluge”)
1. Begging letter season starts; Mr. John Burns gets 45 a day.
6. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted for divers reasons.
7. Farmers pray for more rain or they will be ruined.
9. Mr. Peter Keary writes “Hop Round and Hustle.”
10. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
11. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of Home Rule.
12. Hall Caine attends a notable murder trial.
13. Hall Caine tells us whether the prisoner is guilty or not.
18. Weather experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
20. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
21. The Daily Telegraph rumored to have refused an advertisement.
22. Everybody gets £3 a week pension. No one goes to work.
23. As nobody works there is no pension money. Everybody starts work again.
24. Sandow’s Magazine bought by Messrs. Longman and Strongith’arm.
28. The Times “History of the Peloponnesian War,” in 211 volumes, published.
29. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
30. The Sketch refuses to print photos of actors and actresses.
31. The circulation of the Sketch doubles.
Peter Keary: (1865–1915) early-day motivational writer whose work appeared in Pearson’s Weekly. The reference is to Keary’s books Success: Get On or Get Out (1907) and Do It Now (1908).
Sandow’s Magazine: Eugen Sandow (1867–1925) bodybuilder referred to as the “Father of Modern Bodybuilding.” Ziegfeld saw him perform in a circus and hired him for his carnival show to perform poses dubbed “muscle display” performances; he became Ziegfeld’s first star. He was befriended by King George V, Thomas Edison, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and sold out houses all over the world wherever he performed. His magazine, Sandow’s Magazine of Physical Culture carried seven very early articles by Wodehouse on the subjects of training and boxing, from 1901 to 1903.
Longman & Strongitharm was a firm of prominent jewelers at 1 Waterloo Place, Pall Mall.
The Peloponnesian War (431—404 BC) was an Ancient Greek military conflict, fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League, led by Sparta. It was a battle over “free trade.”
The Sketch was a British illustrated newspaper weekly focusing on high society and the aristocracy. It had a high photographic content with many studies of society ladies and their children as well theatrical and other personalities.
April 1909 — (Weather is “downpour, pouring, heavy rain, wet, raining”)
2. The farmers pray for more rain or their crops will be ruined.
4. Mr. Solly Joel writes biography of Mr. Sievier.
6. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
7. Article in Spectator on “The Knickerbocker Trust” by Steve Bloomer.
9. Article in Outlook on “Flowering Shrubs” by Steve Bloomer.
10. Alfred Shrubb interviewed. Criticizes Bloomer’s statements.
11. President Roosevelt says that something must be done about the Trusts.
12. Experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
13. Mr. John Burns says £10,000 a year is enough for anyone.
14. The German Emperor says that his Navy is wanted in case of trouble in Lapland.
16. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of Egyptian archaeology.
17. Mrs. L. T. Meade does not publish a novel.
25. Mr. Peter Keary writes “Get Busy or Go Bust.”
26. The Radicals say that beer beat them at the recent By-Election.
27. Mr. Plowden at the police-court says beer seems to beat many men.
28. The Daily Telegraph enlarged to 524 pages.
29. Euston Station sensation. Copy of Daily Telegraph falls on bookstall boy, severely crushing him.
30. President Roosevelt says that something must really be done about the Trusts.
Solly Joel: Solomon Barnato Joel (1865–1931) South African financier and mining, brewing and railway magnate. He managed his family’s diamond and gold mining interests, activities in brewing, the theatre (the Drury Lane Theatre in London) and railways; also had success in thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. The Joel Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse is named in his honor.
Robert Standish Sievier (1860–1939), bookmaker, racehorse owner, gambler and publisher of The Winning Post. He had a colorful career which included imprisonment in Australia for fraud, adultery, and divorce, a losing defamation lawsuit against Sir James Duke in London in 1904, who had called him a “card shark,” three bankruptcies, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts. He was branded as a cheat at cards and billiards in Australia, England, and at Monte Carlo. Sievier’s litigation with Joel is captured in a August 1, 1908, New York Times article:
London, August 1: The sole question the jury had to decide was whether Sievier had tried to blackmail Joel or Joel had sought to entrap Sievier in an illegal act. As a certain wit put it, “Sievier left the court without another stain on his character.” Rumors are current that action is to be taken by the racing authorities against Joel, who is described by The Nation as the most disliked man in England.
Knickerbocker Trust: The Panic of 1907 was a financial crisis precipitated by retraction of loans by some banks in New York. The National Bank of North America failed and runs were sparked on nearly every trust in New York. To bring relief the Secretary of the Treasury earmarked $35 million of Federal money in aid, and ruin of the national economy was averted when J.P. Morgan stepped in.
Steve Bloomer: (1874–1938) English footballer during the 1890s and 1900s. He remains a legend at Derby County and the club anthem, “Steve Bloomer’s Watchin’,” is played before every home game. The authors execute a rolling play on words by having Bloomer write about “Knickerbocker” (e.g. knickers) — and then having “Shrubb” criticizing “Bloomer.”
Alfred Shrubb: (1879–1964) British middle distance runner. At the peak of his career he was virtually unbeatable at distances up to 15 miles, often racing against relay teams so that the race would be more competitive.
Mrs. L. T. Meade: (1854–1914) Writer of over 300 books for young girls.
A. C. Plowden: (1844–1919) longtime Magistrate at Marylebone Police Court and author. Harold Begbie, Wodehouse’s boss on ‘By The Way’ wrote of Plowden’s court in the January 16, 1905, Daily Mail: “A majority of cases are family feuds, domestic brawls. Mothers want to summon their sons, wives their husbands, sisters their brothers, nephews their aunts, fathers their daughters. It is gloomy work listening to these tales of sordid and petty wranglings, sad work watching the procession of ill-clothed, black-eyed, head-bandaged, arm-slung humanity moving up lugubriously to the witness-box; this bruised and shabby, ill-smelling and desperately ignorant procession.” Several anecdotes from Plowden’s court are related in ‘By the Way’ 1901–1904.
Daily Telegraph: A reference to the amount of advertising it carried.
May 1909 — (Weather is “very wet, fairly wet, extremely wet, wet and fog”)
1. Harry Lauder returns from America and refuses peerage.
2. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
3. Victor Trumper conducts “Bridge” page in Golf Illustrated.
4. W. G. Grace conducts “Fashions for Men” page in The Poultry Keeper.
5. Harry Vardon conducts “Bee-keeping” column in The Shoe Lane Gazette.
7. Ranjitsinhji visits Crosse and Blackwell’s Jam factory.
8. The experts say we shall have fine weather next month.
9. President Roosevelt says something must be done about the Trusts.
11. Teetotal racegoers scared. Perrier seen drunk on the course.
12. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of race-going as a hobby.
13. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
14. President Roosevelt says that something must be done about the Trusts.
15. The German Emperor says his Navy is wanted in case it’s wanted.
16. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of micro-organisms.
17. Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of therapeutic medicine.
18. Harry Lauder and Spring Onions join the Asquith cabinet.
20. Harry Lauder and Spring Onions resign.
24. Mr. Asquith wondering what on earth to do now that he is Premier.
26. C. B. Fry writes article on “Flannel v. Flanellette” for cricket clothes.
31. The sun seen shining near St. Paul’s Cathedral. National holiday.
Sir Henry McLennan Lauder: (1870–1950) Scottish entertainer, described by Winston Churchill as “Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador.” He toured the world extensively (22 times to America) during his forty-year career and was once the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night.
Victor Trumper: (1877–1915) Australian cricketeer renowned for the stylishness of his batting. The authors are punning here, having “Trumper” conduct a “Bridge” page.
W. G. Grace: The authors’ reference to “Fashions for Men” seems to go back to 1888 when Grace recommended that cricket outfits be fit entirely in white, flannel trousers.
Harry Vardon: (1870–1937) Fabled English golfer who won six British Open Championships; became an international celebrity in 1900 when he toured the United States, capping it off with a victory in the U.S. Open.
Ranjitsinhji: Lieutenant-Colonel Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Jam Sri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja (1872–1933, known as K.S. Ranjitsinhji) was an Indian prince and cricketer who played for the English cricket team and for Cambridge. His name was often shortened to Ranji and he was also known as the “Black Prince of Cricketeers.” His third name Jam is punned upon in this item; see following note.
Crosse and Blackwell’s Jam factory: Crosse & Blackwell is a food production brand in existence since 1706. Originally called West and Wyatt, the company was purchased in 1830 by Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell. Over the years, the brand has been applied to various varieties of canned, dried and bottled grocery products, but their website notes that they have made fruit spreads since 1706.
Perrier: Louis Perrier was a London physician who bought a French spring called Les Bouillens in 1898 and operated it as a spa. He later sold it to Sir St. John Harmsworth, brother of Lord Northcliffe, the founder of the Daily Mail. Abandoning the spa treatment, he renamed it Source Perrier and started bottling it in green bottles shaped like the Indian clubs he used for exercise. Harmsworth marketed the product in the U.K. at a time when “Frenchness” was a desirable thing to the middle classes. It was branded as the “Champagne of Mineral Water” and advertised heavily.
Spring Onions: “The Thames Police Court poet (W. G. Waters) was for many years a vagrant minstrel of the long line of Villon and Cyrano de Bergerac and was arrested for drunkenness thirty-nine times. He reformed and became a messenger at Thames Police Court. He was the self-appointed Laureate of the Nation. He celebrated not only himself, his struggles and successes, but the pettier happenings of the day, such as the death of a king, the accession of a king, or the marriage of some royal couple. You remember his lines on the Coronation of Edward VII:
The King, His Majesty, and may him Heaven bless.
He don’t put no side on in his dress.
For, though he owns castles and palaces and houses,
He wears, just like you and me, coats and waistcoats and trousis.”
(Nights in London, Thomas Burke, 1918)
Flannelette: Made with the same fibers as flannel, however is usually only brushed on one side, and is a lighter weight than flannel. Commonly used for shirts and pajamas.
The Great Puzzles
Wodehouse’s hand is detectable throughout the series of five faux puzzles, parodies of both the Elephant Puzzle and popular newspapers contests of the day.
The Times Great Tiger Puzzle
1. Cut out very carefully with a sardine-opener the fourteen portions printed in black on the other side.
2. Having done so, place the eighteen pieces on any rough surface, and go out to dinner.
3. To do this properly these twenty-four pieces are all necessary. They must all be joined together, but no piece or pietion of a porce must overlap another porsh or pietion of a porce in any way whatever.
4. There are no superfluous pieces. Every blue portion may be omitted. Do not give it up. It can be done. You may do it even after you have been taken back to Hanwell.
5. The editor of The Times gives a personal guarantee that the puzzle can be solved, and offers a £10,000 14 6 prize for competition. This is worth winning.
6. The correct method of arranging the pieces is shown on a card deposited with President Roosevelt and has never been seen by the editor of The Times.
7. No Cabinet Minister may compete.
8. When you have solved the puzzle to your satisfaction, pack your head in ice and send for the doctor.
9. The £10,000 14 6 will be awarded to the competitor who correctly forms the tiger by arranging all the forty-one pieces as they are arranged on the card deposited with President Roosevelt.
10. The solutions will be opened on June 31, 1919, but in case no competitor has by that date succeeded in solving the puzzle, the date will be extended to 1st of August, 1983.
11. In the event of more than one competitor correctly solving the puzzle, we shall form a high opinion of Young England’s brain power.
12. The correct solution and name of the winner will appear in the Colney Hatch Argus and in the Colney Hatch Argus only.
13. The decision of the editor of The Times, unless somebody in the meantime has purchased The Times and given him the push, must be accepted as final.
Hanwell and Colney Hatch: The County Asylum at Hanwell, also known as Hanwell Insane Asylum, was built for the pauper insane in 1831; Colney Hatch (shown), opened in 1851.
The Scotsman Great Stag Puzzle.
£–:–:3 if you can do it.
1. Disinter as many of the sixteen pieces as you can with some corrosive acid.
2. Do not drink the acid.
3. Do not apply the acid to the right eye. Competitors require the full use of their natural sight.
4. Competitors wearing glasses will be disqualified.
5. All the sixteen pieces are indispensable.
6. Do not give it up. It is not a joke.
7. The Editor of “The Scotsman” gives a personal guarantee that the puzzle can be solved, and offers a 3d. prize for competition.
8. The correct method of arranging the pieces is shown on a contract deposited with Harry Lauder, and has never been produced at the Tivoli.
9. Harry Lauder is not eligible to compete.
10. The solutions will be opened on New Year’s Eve in the vicinity of St. Paul’s Cathedral, police permitting.
11. In the event of more than one and less than thirteen competitors correctly solving the puzzle the money will be divided.
12. The editor of The Scotsman reserves the right to subtract 99 per cent of the prize money to defray working expenses.
13. The decision of a committee of crofters and gillies must be accepted as final and legally binding.
The Scotsman: Scottish national newspaper launched in 1817 as a liberal weekly.
Tivoli: Music hall on the Strand.
Crofter(s): a person who rents and works a small farm, esp. in Scotland or Northern England; and gillie(s): two meanings, 1) a hunting or fishing guide; 2) a male personal servant to a Scottish highland chieftain
The Athenæum Great Wart-Hog Puzzle.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.
1. Cut out the eight pieces with a meat axe.
2. Having done so, place the six pieces in a safe and lose the key.
3. To do this properly the twelve pieces are all necessary. Should they overlap, buy another copy of the By the Way Book and start again.
4. There are no superfluous pieces. Those you do not want can be used for lighting the fire. Do not give it up. Try and sell it for eighteen-pence.
5. The Editor of “The Athenæum” gives a personal guarantee that this puzzle can be solved, and offers a £1 9 3 prize for competition. This is worth winning, even if you are one of the unemployed.
6. The correct method of arranging the pieces is shown on a bioscope deposited with little Prince Olaf.
7. No member of the League of Frontiersmen is eligible to compete.
8. When you have solved the puzzle to your own satisfaction, paste it, so as to show the wart-hog, firmly and neatly on a sheet of thin cardboard. Cut to fit the boot, this makes an excellent substitute for cork-soles.
9. The £1 9 3 will be awarded to the genius who cuts out the six pieces printed on the other side.
10. The solution will be opened on June 27th, 1911.
11. In the event of more than one competitor solving the puzzle correctly Queensbury Rules will be insisted upon.
12. The name of the winner will be telegraphed to Scotland Yard.
13. The decision of the German Emperor is final and legally binding.
The Athenæum: Conservative literary magazine published in London from 1828 to 1921 with a reputation for publishing the best writers of the age.
Little Prince Olaf: Olav V (1903–38) was born in the United Kingdom as the son of Prince Carl of Denmark and Princess Maud of the United Kingdom. He became Crown Prince and only heir to the throne of Norway when his father was elected King in 1905.
Bioscope: An early form of motion picture projection invented in 1897 by Charles Urban.
League of Frontiersmen: Patriotic organization formed in Britain in 1905, designed to bolster the defensive capacity of the Empire. Prompted by pre-war fears of a pending invasion of Britain, it was founded on a romanticized conception of the “frontier” and imperial idealism. Branches were formed throughout the empire to prepare patriots for war and to foster vigilance in peacetime. The Legion raised battalions and its members enlisted en masse at the onset of the First World War. Mentioned in The Swoop!
The Great Hyena Puzzle
1. Blast out with dynamite the seventeen portions printed in green and crimson on the other side.
2. Get your little brother to place them on some smooth surface. It is a wearisome job, and will keep him quiet in the evenings.
3. Having seen this done, call in the cook and housemaid, and let them see what they make of it.
4. You may consult the boot-boy.
5. If the boot-boy looks like solving it on his own account, give him notice at once.
6. Try it on your rich uncle. It will hasten his decease.
7. The correct method of arranging the pieces is shown on a card deposited with Raisuli, and has never been seen by the editor of the Spectator.
8. Kaid Maclean will not be allowed to compete.
9. The £43,001 0s. 1½ d. will be awarded to the competitor who correctly forms the hyena by arranging the twenty-eight pieces as they are arranged on the card deposited with Raisuli.
10. If a competitor dies of brain fever after solving the puzzle, the prize will be handed to his next-of-kin.
11. If he merely goes off his head, the money will be spent in supplying him with the Spectator weekly while in the asylum.
12. The correct solution and the name of the winner will appear in the Brigand’s Herald and Rabat Advertiser, and in the Brigand’s Herald and Rabat Advertiser only.
13. The decision of the editor of the Spectator, unless questioned in the course of a personal interview by Zbysco, Tommy Burns, or Hackenschmidt, will be final.
Kaid Maclean: General Sir Harry Aubrey de Vere Maclean (1848–1920), Scottish soldier and instructor to the Moroccan Army. In 1877, Maclean went to Morocco and began his career as an army instructor for the Sultan Mulai Hassan and fought opposing tribes throughout Morocco. He eventually became commander of the Sultan of Morocco’s Army and was regarded as an unofficial British agent in the United Kingdom. In August 1907, he was kidnapped by Raisuli and held for ransom.
The Spectator: British newspaper; from its founding in 1828 has taken a pro-British line in foreign affairs and strongly supported the Tariff Reform Bill.
Brigand’s Herald and Rabat Advertiser: Fictional; Rabat is the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco
Zbysco: Stanley Zbysco was a Polish wrestling champion; mentioned in Wodehouse’s 1915 story “Wilton’s Holiday”:
“Jack, dear, it—it’s awfully
cold. Don’t you think if we were to—snuggle up——?”
He reached out, and folded her in an embrace which would have aroused the professional enthusiasm of Hackenschmidt and drawn guttural congratulations from Zbysco. She creaked, but did not crack, beneath the strain.
Tommy Burns (1881–1955) born Noah Brusso, Canadian world heavyweight champion boxer.
Newspapers and Magazines
GBTW was not shy about teasing other newspapers: The Times, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Evening News, Westminster Gazette, Home Chat, Tailor and Cutter, Yorkshire Post, Sporting Times, Guardian, Pearson’s Weekly, John Bull, Morning Leader, Star, Daily Chronicle, Autocar, Tit-Bits, Answers, Weekly Dispatch, Sandow’s Magazine, The Sketch, Winning Post, Golf Illustrated, The Poultry Keeper and The Shoe Lane Gazette are all mentioned, always in parody or tongue-in-cheek.
Variations on Themes:
Four installments, each taking a popular song or poem, and satirizing how the subject would be treated by different newspapers:
No 1. — Mary Had a Little Lamb
As treated by “The World”: Lady Mary Popple, whose father, the Earl of Ippleton, has, we are glad to see, successfully shaken off his last attack of gout, is, like so many of the younger generation, extremely fond of animals. Her inseparable companion is a valuable pedigree Minorca lamb, remarkable for the snowy whiteness of its fleece. It accompanies Lady Mary wherever she goes.
The names derive from the 1905 musical comedy Mr. Popple (of Ippleton) by Paul Rubens. Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern would rework it in 1915 as Nobody Home. Wodehouse used the location “Ippleton” in “The Truth About George” (1926). It was a depiction of the town of Powick, the site of a lunatic asylum. (Norman Murphy) The World, founded in 1874, was a society paper much like Vanity Fair.
As treated by “The Daily Chronicle”: “Opinions vary on the correct pronunciation of the word ‘lamb.’ This writer, when at Oriel College, used to pronounce it ‘lam,’ as in ‘lamp.’ Since, however, he has rather favoured ‘lham,’ as in ‘lhama.’ This writer has, however, mislaid his ‘Bartlett’s Book of Quotations” so cannot really spread himself on the subject.”
As treated by “Tit-Bits”:
There are 8,065,271 lambs in British Columbia.
The hairs on a lamb’s back would, if placed on top of one another, reach half-way up St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Lambs were introduced into Senegambia by the Aztecs.
Tit-Bits had the distinction of publishing Wodehouse’s first paid humorous article, “Men Who Have Missed Their Own Weddings,” on November 24, 1900.
As treated by “Pearson’s Weekly”:
There was a young lady named Mary,
Who in choosing her pets was contrary.
“Dogs I hate, but I am,”
She said, “fond of a lamb,
I agree to abide by the decision published in “Pearson’s Weekly” and to accept it as final, and I enter only on this understanding.
There are 29 full and half-page cartoons, many about newspapers, most of the man-against-the-world variety, drawn by W. K. (William Kerridge) Haselden (1872–1953), English cartoonist and caricaturist, whose trademark style was gentle, conservative social commentary reflecting on middle class fashions and manners. His cartoons usually consisted of a single frame divided into a number of panels, for which he has been viewed as the father of British strip cartoon.
Our Lightning Serial, “Women, Wine and Song!” by Paul Vane
One of the most unusual farces Wodehouse ever wrote, “Women, Wine and Song!” is a 7,200 word illustrated adventure serial in twelve “chapters” interspersed through GBTW. Silliness runs amok as Wodehouse spoofs the stage melodrama and the cliff-hanger serials of his youth. Featuring Lord Baldwin Berkeley, The Lady Marjorie Stagg-Mantle, Marquis Luke Lockhart, the Countess Maria Spaghetti, and a cast of heroes and villains, “by the author of The Blood That Dripped on the Doormat, The Scream in Belgrave Square, The Vampire of Bodger’s Alley, Crimson Sins, and The Mystery of the Mutilated Mummy.” The Infant Samuel at Prayer makes his first ever Wodehouse appearance in this story, and it’s the only pure fiction in GBTW. P.G. never wrote anything even remotely similar to it again. You can find the entire serial online here.
“Luke Lockhart, his eyes full of sinister triumph, his mouth full of lobster salad, was enjoying the sight of his handiwork.”
“We have been challenged by the Onehorseville Clarion and Lyncher’s Guide, of Nebraska, U.S.A., to produce an Englishwoman more beautiful than Miss Sadie Rockmeteller, who has been declared by a committee of experts to be the most beautiful woman in America. Our Great Beauty Competition!”
The 14-part spoof of newspaper circulation contests bears the unmistakable hand of P.G. The rules of the contest, set forth in a delightful two-paragraph introduction, are that “the winner must have in her a touch of the Indian squaw,” and other qualities especially suited to the eleven judges, a panel consisting of, among the others, John Burns, Joseph Chamberlain, Seymour Hicks, Raisuli, and, of course, Hackenschmidt. Each episode features a homely gawd-help-us contestant from a different town; each segment is profusely alliterated — giving P.G. the chance to reel off a series of original tongue-twisters, the eleventh part featuring Miss Hilda Hickenschmadt, of Hull, of whom judge Seymour Hicks admits that he “likes her face.” Other entrants are Miss Kate Kerr of Kilburn; Miss Tillie Thoms of Tooting; Miss Bella Bright of Birmingham; Miss Pamela Popgood of Plymouth, etc. The Onehorseville Clarion and Lyncher’s Guide of Nebraska, U.S.A. wasn’t P.G.’s first hick American newspaper, but it was one of his earliest.
He used the unusual name Rockmetteller several times: Mrs. Balderstone Rockmeteller from “The Man Who Disliked Cats” (1912); Rockmeteller “Rocky” Todd and his aunt from “The Aunt and the Sluggard” (1916), and, some fifty-eight years later, Bream Rockmeteller from “Life With Freddie” in 1966. He must have seen that name in Robert Smythe Hichens’ fifth book, an 1898 satire about London decadence called “The Londoners – An Absurdity”:
“Huskinson’s dearest chum. Bream Rock” —
“Yes. Oh, Daisy, a little man with one of those beards you see in a nonsense book, and a voice that shook him when he spoke, it was so much too large for him, and feet as small as yours, and stocks and shares in all his pockets, and even up his sleeves.”
JUDGES’ REMARKS (when coherent)
Even Mrs. B. has not that subtle je-ne-sais-quoi. — George Robey
I would be photographed smiling for her sake. — Lewis Waller
My Scotch-blue-bell! — Harry Lauder
I will put her on as a show-girl in Richard III. — Seymour Hicks
I would address South African meetings again for her sake. — Keir Hardie
You are my, you are my, that’s what you are. — Wilkie Bard
She wouldn’t scratch. — Hackenschmidt
And to think I refused to come to England when they asked me. — Raisuli
My orchid-house is at her disposal. — Mr. Joseph Chamberlain
I shall ask a question in the House about her. — Horatio Bottomley
George Robey: (George Edward Wade 1869–1954) English music hall comedian. He was billed as the “Prime Minister of Delight.” Some of Robey’s appearances were in drag, and although I can’t find a reference, I’m guessing “Mrs. B.” to have been one of his female characters.
Lewis Waller: (1860–1915) English actor and theatre manager.
My Scotch blue-bell! From Harry Lauder’s popular 1905 song: “I love a lassie, a bonnie, bonnie lassie, She’s as pure as a lily in the dell,” etc. George Mulliner reprised the tune in 1926.
I will put her on as a showgirl in Richard III: Hicks’s first Shakespearean role was in Richard III in 1910.
I would address South African meetings again for her sake: The Scottish socialist had fiercely opposed the second Boer War, and was nearly killed when attacked by a mob in Glasgow during a riot caused by one of his speeches against it.
Wilkie Bard: (1870–1944) British comedian and singer; The reference here is to his song: “You, You, You, let me sing” from 1907.
Joseph Chamberlain: (1836–1914) In his early years Chamberlain was a radically-minded Liberal Party member and campaigner for educational reform. He later became a Liberal Unionist in alliance with the Conservative Party and was appointed Colonial Secretary. He is regarded as one of the most important British politicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, having driven the discourse while engineering splits in both main parties. Wodehouse joked about Chamberlain often — “What’s Wrong,” March 1904, and “Academy Notes,” June 1904, from Books of To-day, and he was a protagonist in the late 1903 Parrot poems for the Daily Express. P.G. parodied his tariff protection policies in his first collaboration with Jerome Kern in the lyric to “Oh, Mr. Chamberlain,” from The Beauty of Bath in 1906. Chamberlain, nicknamed “Pushful Joe,” was well-known for his orchid garden and often wore one in his lapel.
Horatio Bottomley: (1860–1933) British financier, swindler, journalist, newspaper proprietor, racehorse owner, populist politician and M.P. He established the journal John Bull in 1906. The joke here is that Bottomley’s various measures on trade and finance were soundly derided and rejected by Parliament.
At the Olympic Games. Few of the events, at the moment of writing, seem to be quite so open as Throwing The Bomb. At one time this was considered a gift for Alexis Gotsuchakoff, of Nijni Novgorod, who has bagged more Grand Dukes than any other Russian since the late Ivan Smzprxbjtski. The Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling should go to Leon Brézard of Paris, who defeated the Gorgonzola at Turini’s Italian Restaurant, Soho, last night after a tough struggle.
Nizhny Novgorod: Its golf course is noted for the occasion on which Vladimir Brusiloff and the club pro won a match against Lenin and Trotsky due to an assassination attempt on Lenin, which put him off his game. (“The Clicking of Cuthbert”) Graves and Lucas also liked the alliterative city, using it a couple of times in their books.
In the Office. Heads of departments should be addressed as “Your Grace,” junior partners as “Your Royal Highness,” and senior partners as “Your Majesty.” Refrain from writing letters on the firm’s stationery. In these days of economy it is usually of a most inferior brand. On finding that you have omitted to post a batch of important letters, destroy them. Otherwise their late delivery may become a cause of embarrassment.
At the Olympic Games. Hints to young competitors: If you feel tired during the Marathon Race, take a cab. Practise for Throwing the Javelin with an umbrella in the back garden. A good way to practice jumping is to look at your wife’s millinery bills. If the hurdles bother you in the Hurdle Race, run round them.
The Great Marathon Race. Why did the losing competitors crock so? Because they omitted to train on Oxo.
Oxo: brand of various food products, consisting of stock cubes, herbs and spices, dried gravy, and yeast extract. In 1908 Oxo sponsored the London Olympic Games and supplied athletes with Oxo drinks to fortify them.
In the Garden. Do not cut worms in half. It is better to have one big worm than two small ones wriggling about. Snails are fiercest in the spring. Take a shot-gun with you into the garden in April. Early morning, before the sun is up, is the best time for planting empty tins and broken bottles in your neighbor’s garden. Do not keep taking up your bulbs to see how they are growing. Spray the tulips with idioform daily. If this kills them buy some more.
At the Opera. Always hum a song while the tenor is singing it. It helps your neighbors to get hold of the tune. If your ordinary conversational voice is not enough to drown the prima-donna, use a police-rattle. Don’t let these pampered stars have it all their own way. Bear up while listening to Wagner. Always remember that you might have had toothache. In discussing music with an enthusiast, remember that pizzicato is not the name of an opera. It is a kind of cheese.
In the Nursery: Take care that baby’s bath is at the right temperature. Put the cat in first. If its fur begins to peel off, the water is too hot, and a little cold should be added. Warning to Visitors: To say that a baby is like his father is now held by Law to constitute a defamatory slander, as suggesting that the latter resembles a badly-done poached egg. The best way of undressing baby is to catch hold anywhere, and pull till something gives.
Cf. “having undressed him by unbuttoning every button in sight and, where there were no buttons, pulling till something gave, we carried him up to bed.” (“Helping Freddie,” Strand, September 1911)
On the cricket field: If the number of assistant-under-secretaries of county clubs were placed end to end they would reach from Hyde Park Corner to Peckham Rye.
At the Bridge table: Should you lose rather more than you can afford, go on playing till you get it back. If you did not intend to pay in any case, you stand to win by this method. When you have made a misdeal twice running, don’t tell your partner to go and boil himself. He won’t follow your advice, and besides it shows a shocking lack of good breeding. Don’t sit with your back to the mirror when you are playing at a country house.
With the multiplication table: A has acquired a small holding within a measured mile from the Swiss Cottage, and B is a taxicab driver who has married C’s deceased wife’s sister. A has sub-let the leather business of D. State D’s percentage of profit (or loss). Solution to-morrow.
Five Minutes at the Academy
P.G. rubbed elbows with many artists in bohemian and aristocratic circles, not the least of whom was his aunt Emmeline Deane, who first had her paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879. Her paintings were shown there six more times by the time P.G. was twenty-one, and no doubt the young Wodehouse brothers were dressed up and taken to see Auntie’s paintings on display. “Academy Notes” from June 1904 in Books of To-day was P.G.’s first funny take on the topic, placing contemporaries in the comical paintings on display.
While Other Men Sleep.— A clever study of Mr. W. Somerset Maugham writing three new plays simultaneously, one with each hand and the other with his right foot. (Maugham published six books 1901–1908, but his only play in the period was “A Man of Honour” in 1903)
Sentence of Death.— Dr. MacNamara informing the Radical candidate for a vacant seat that he will run down and help him. The look of sickly dismay on the latter’s face as he hears the words is finely portrayed.
Playmates.— A charming study of Mr. Hall Caine and Miss Marie Corelli comparing notes as to their forthcoming masterpieces.
Marie Corelli: (b. Mary Mackay, 1855–1924) British novelist, began her career as a musician, adopting the name Marie Corelli for her billing. She turned to writing and in 1886 published her first novel, A Romance of Two Worlds. She was widely read but came under harsh criticism for her overly melodramatic and emotional writing. The Spectator critic wrote that she was “a woman of deplorable talent who imagined that she was a genius, and she was accepted as a genius by a public to whose commonplace sentimentalities and prejudices she gave a glamorous setting.” Marie Corelli was clearly a real-life ancestor of Wodehouse’s female novelists. According to Murphy, Wodehouse quotes her phrase “It became him (or her) well” in several books. “So essentially retiring is Miss Corelli’s nature, that, we regret to say, no details concerning herself can be extracted from her.” (Who’s Who)
Bits and pieces
To-day’s greater thought: Sea-sickness is a universal scourge. We read in Keats that “Stout Cortez stared with eagle eyes at the Pacific.” In those days, they leaned over the side. —Sir Thomas Lipton.
Maxims of the Mighty: If we must play this game of football, let us at least play it like gentlemen. Let there be no hooligan methods. I read the other day that a football team scratched. Shame! —Mr. Rudyard Kipling.
See notes to “Muddied Oafs.”
Random Remarks on Wrestling, by Frank Gotch. The novice should start by endeavouring to master some of the simpler manœuvres. He must learn to scratch before he tries to bite. Make a friend of the referee. Take him out to lunch once or twice, and give his children Golliwogs. Seeds of kindness so scattered are not thrown away. In America, at any rate. Get the sympathies of the audience with you. You can do this (in America) by pulling your opponent’s ear off.
Frank Alvin Gotch: (1878–1917) American wrestler credited for popularizing professional wrestling in the United States. His reign as World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion from 1908 to 1915 is the second longest in the history of wrestling. In a 1908 match in Chicago with Hackenschmidt, who was favored to win, it was alleged that Gotch used illegal techniques in the match including oiling up his body, rubbing oil into Hackenschmidt’s eyes, scratching, gouging and hitting.
A thought for to-day. A dog has four legs: a chicken crossing the road of life has a tendency to get to the other side: know thyself. —Aurelius Spinoza Quackenboss.
Pointers to Success. Be a man, not a mangel-wurzel, a sizzler, not a squab; a Lusitania, not a limpet. Catch your employer’s eye. If he has two, catch them both. Be! And keep-a-being. Sleep a quarter of an hour a day. Eat nothing. Read ME! —Mr. Peter Keary.
Thoughts of Thinkers. “A monarch must above all be a lovable man.” —King Leopold of Belgium.
King Leopold of Belgium: Leopold II (1835–1909) was the brother of Empress Carlota of Mexico and first cousin to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Outside Belgium, he is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, the area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The extraction of rubber and ivory relied on forced labor and resulted in the massacre and mutilation of millions of Congolese (roughly half the population at the time). He ran the Congo as his personal fiefdom and business venture. Considering the mass killings that took place in the Congo, a historian wrote that he “was an Attila in modern dress, and it would have been better for the world if he had never been born.” The final word was had by his subjects at the end of his reign — he was soundly booed during his funeral parade.
From the newspaper column:
Bound into the book following p. 32 is an eight-page section about the Globe newspaper itself; like the paper, it is printed on pink stock. The first pink page is a facsimile of the April 11, 1908, front page. The following items are in the “By the Way” column of that page.
Stains on Escutcheons.—No. 1: At West Ham. “The only thing I have against me,” said a prisoner there, with manly resignation, “is that I saved a woman from drowning some years ago.”
(Some little known facts in connection with the Cabin strike.)
There was a young girl at the tea-urn,
Who said, “Dock the wages that we earn,
And we’ll all go on strike
For as long as we like,
We will! You may take it from me, Ern.!”
There was a young lady of muscle,
Who said, “Any man thwarting us’ll
Get a whack on the head
With this big loaf of bread.”
Men strictly avoided the tussle.
In order to study the migratory habits of rats, Dr. Rupert Blue, of San Francisco, is dyeing certain selected rodents various colours, and then liberating them. One of his assistants who fell into a vat recently while engaged in this pleasing pursuit is now even bluer than Dr. Rupert.
Rupert Blue: (1868–1948) Surgeon General of the United States from
1912 to 1920. In 1907 then–Surgeon General Walter Wyman dispatched Blue
to oversee rat eradication and urban sanitation programs after bubonic
plague struck San Francisco.
COLOURED RATS. “In order to study the migratory habits of rats, Dr. Rupert Blue, who is in charge of the operations against the bubonic plague at San Francisco, is dyeing captured animals various colours according to the district of the city in which they are trapped, and then liberating them. Should one of the dyed rats be subsequently found dead from plague its colour will proclaim its place of origin.” (Dundee Courier, April 11, 1908)
The Rev. R. J. Campbell states that he wants to “get the brewer’s hand off the throat of the British public.” Everyone who likes to drink in comfort will applaud the removal of this inconvenient attitude.
Reginald John Campbell: (1867–1956), British Congregationalist; became famous as a preacher and a leader of Nonconformist opinion.
Selective Glossary of People, Places and things not heretofore mentioned
Alfred Austin: (1835–1913) appointed Poet Laureate in 1896 upon the death of Tennyson.
William Bailey: “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home,” popular song written by Hughie Cannon published in 1902.
Arthur J. Balfour: (1848–1930) 1st Earl of Balfour, Conservative politician and statesman, and Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905, a time when his party and government became divided over the issue of tariff reform. Balfour later became a fan of Wodehouse’s books.
Arthur Christopher Benson: (1862–1925), essayist, poet and prolific author; his poems and volumes of essays such as From a College Window were famous in his day. “b. April 24, 1862; started writing at once, and nobody has been able to stop him since. Publications: From a Nursery Window, 1962; The Psychology of the Golliwog, 1862; The First Spank, a Tragedy, 1862; Perambulator Perambulations, 1862; The First Tooth, 1862; Essays on Pedestrianism, 1862; and eighteen volumes a year since. Recreation: Dusting his books.” (Who’s Who)
W. P. Byles: Radical member of parliament
Big Soos Sultan of Morocco: Abdelaziz of Morocco (1878–1943) also known as Mulai Abd al-Aziz IV, served as the Sultan of Morocco from 1894 at the age of ten until he was deposed in 1908. The state of anarchy into which Morocco fell during the latter half of 1906 showed that the young ruler lacked strength sufficient to make his will respected by his turbulent subjects. I’m unable to find any reference to the term “Big Soos.”
Arthur Bourchier (1864–1927), Shakespearian actor, first appeared with Lillie Langtry in 1889 in As You Like It.
George Earl Buckle: (1854–1935) journalist and biographer; was editor of The Times from 1884 to 1912.
Chung Ling Soo: stage name of American magician William Ellsworth Robinson (1861–1918); his most famous trick was the Condemned to Death by the Boxers in which members of the audience were called on the stage to mark a bullet that was loaded into a gun. Attendants fired the gun at Soo, and he seemed to catch the bullet from the air and drop it on a plate held up in front of him. The muzzle-loaded gun was rigged so that the gunpowder charge misfired in the chamber and the bullet would drop into a chamber below the barrel. The bullet in fact never left the gun. The trick went wrong at the Wood Green Empire Theater, London, on March 23, 1918. Soo had never cleaned the gun properly, and over time, the gap that allowed the bullet to drop out of the barrel into the chamber slowly built up a residue from the continued burning of gunpowder. On the night of the accident, the bullet fired in the normal way and hit Soo in the chest. His last words were spoken on stage that moment, “Oh my God. Something’s happened. Lower the curtain.” It was the first (and last) time in 19 years that “Chung Ling Soo” had spoken English in public. He was taken to a hospital, but he died the next day.
Paul Cinquevalli (1859–1918) was a famous juggler from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. His birth name is given by The Cambridge Guide to Theatre as Paul Kestner.
Andrew Carnegie: (1835–1919) Scottish-born American industrialist, businessman, and philanthropist, who donated 2,509 library buildings throughout the world between 1883 and 1929. The recipient towns and institutions, though, had to pay the costs of filling and staffing these libraries, a fact often mentioned by the Globe. “Library scatterer; as a boy was always giving away libraries whenever he had them, and now cannot break himself of this fatal habit; has been known to do it in his sleep.” (Who’s Who)
G. H. (George) Chirgwin: (1854–1922) Cockney-born blackface minstrel performer known as “The White Eyed Kaffir;” reputed to have been an early influence on Charlie Chaplin.
Albert Craig – the Surrey Poet: (1850–1909) attended cricket and football matches and wrote popular verses and short essays describing the players and events. He had them printed on broadsheets and sold them to the crowd.
T.W.H. Crosland: Thomas William Hodgson Crosland, prolific writer and poet, most famously author of The Unspeakable Scot in 1903. “He consumed vast amounts of whisky, in which in the end his considerable talents drowned, and was consumed by an immense bitterness and antipathy for everyone and everything.” Other sources refer to him as “obnoxious” and “a huge, bloated venomous creature.” “b. July 1868. Caused sensation by writing The Unspeakable Nurse, 1873; The Asinine Tutor 1880, The Awful Englishman, 1903; The Frightful Frenchman, 1904; The Sickening Spaniard, 1905; The Grim German, 1906; The Revolting Russian, 1907; The Nasty Norwegian and The Jejune Jap, 1908. (Who’s Who)
Phyllis Dare: (1890–1975) singer and actress who was famous for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy in the first half of the 20th century. She subsequently began a relationship with the composer Paul Rubens. “b. 1890, but did not publish her autobiography till seventeen years later.” (Who’s Who)
Mr. Justice Darling: Charles John Darling (1849–1936) British Conservative politician and judge
Arthur Conan Doyle: (1859–1930) Prolific Scottish author most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes. Wodehouse greatly admired the Holmes stories he read as a boy and later befriended and played cricket with him. “Human sleuth-hound; started measuring footprints 1868; in his second year ran to earth larcenous nursemaid; first smiled quite thin-lipped smile, 1872.” (Who’s Who)
Edward Elgar: (1857–1934) Romantic composer of orchestral works, including Pomp and Circumstance Marches.
Marie Dressler: (1868–1934) American actress, recording, and vaudeville star. Appeared in Mack Sennett’s 1914 film Tillie’s Punctured Romance opposite the “newly discovered” Charlie Chaplin.
Joe Elvin: (Joseph Peter Keegan, 1862–1935) Cockney comedian and music hall entertainer and Founder of the Grand Order of Water Rats, a show business charity. Elvin developed the character of the loud, lovable, and irreverent cockney working man having a good time.
Mary Baker Eddy: (Mary Morse Baker, 1821–1910) founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879 and was the author of its fundamental doctrinal textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. “Discoverer and founder of Christian Science, the principal tenet of which is that, when other people think they are in pain, it is all imagination. Treated by dentist for toothache, 1904.” (Who’s Who)
Michael Joseph Flavin: Irish member of Parliament 1896–1918
Galloway Fraser: Scotsman who came to London as a Parliamentary reporter for the Dundee Chronicle, ultimately becoming editor of Tit-Bits. “Editor of ‘Tit-Bits.’ Found out that there were 180,000,000,003 herrings in the North Sea, and that the postage stamps used in Battersea in a single year would, if placed end to end, stretch part of the way from London to the North Pole; and has never looked back.” (Who’s Who)
Henry Farman: (1874–1958) French aviator and aircraft designer and manufacturer. There is some evidence that he made the first flight with a woman passenger.
Charles Frohman: (1856–1915) American theatrical producer. In 1896, Frohman and others including Abe Erlanger and Mark Klaw formed the Theatrical Syndicate, establishing a systemized booking network throughout the United States. It created a virtual monopoly that controlled every aspect of theatrical contracts and bookings. His most famous success was Barrie’s Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up which debuted in London in December 1904. Frohman also established a successful partnership with Seymour Hicks to produce musicals and other comedies in London, including The Beauty of Bath in 1906 and The Gay Gordons in 1907, both with Wodehouse song lyrics. He went down with the Lusitania in 1915.
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert: (1836–1911) English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. Wodehouse freely acknowledged his love of Gilbert’s work and was highly influenced, particularly in his poetry and song lyrics, by Gilbert’s clever word-play.
Nat Gould: (1857–1919), British novelist. His racing novels attracted an enormous public and his sales ran into many millions of copies.
Edward Cecil Guinness (1847–1927) Irish philanthropist and businessman; chief executive of the Guinness Brewing Company until 1889.
Sir John Hare: (b. John Fairs, 1844–1921) English actor and theatrical manager; was considered the greatest character actor of his day, excelling in old men’s parts. “Actor, b. 1844. Retired from stage, 1900; made farewell appearance, 1901; retired from stage, 1902; appeared for positively the last time, 1903; retired from stage, 1904; gave his final public performance, 1905; retired from stage, 1906; gave concluding entertainment on boards, 1907; retired from stage, 1908. Recreation: Growing younger.” (Who’s Who)
Walter Hyde: (1875–1951) operatic tenor and teacher.
Cosmo Hamilton: (Henry Charles Hamilton Gibbs, 1870–1942) English playwright and novelist; Hamilton’s second marriage was to Julia Bolton, former wife of playwright Guy Bolton. His London musicals include The Catch of the Season (with Seymour Hicks, 1904) and The Belle of Mayfair (1906). Wodehouse’s journal entry from December 13, 1904, contains this entry: “Letter from Cosmo Hamilton congratulating me on my work and promising commission to write lyrics for his next piece.” This turned out to be The Beauty of Bath in 1906.
Messrs. Harlene: Edwards & Harlene was a company that manufactured and advertised a quack hair restoration product called Harlene and recommended it with their “Harlene’s Hair Drill” a system of scalp massage warranted to grow hair.
Ernest William (E. W.) Hornung: (1866–1921) English author; married Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sister in 1893. Created the character of A. J. Raffles, the “gentleman thief,” who first appeared in Cassell’s Magazine in 1898. Also a cricket pal of P.G.’s on Conan Doyle’s Authors team.
Lord Alastair Innes-Ker: (1880–1936) Defined joshingly in “Who’s Who” as the “pen-name of Mr. S. F. Edge”; in actual life a son of the 7th Duke of Roxburghe and grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough; one of the British nobles noted for marrying an American heiress, in this case Anne Breese (1889–1959) in 1907. Karen Shotting notes that his name is pronounced “in ’is car,” setting up the punning reference to Selwyn Francis Edge (1868–1940), Australia-born British racing driver and automobile manufacturer.
Ivan Petruski: From “Abdul Abulbul Amir,” a poem written in 1877 by Percy French.
Gustav Jaeger: (1832–1917) German naturalist and hygienist. The system of clothing associated with his name originates from 1880 when he advocated the wearing of rough fabrics such as wool “close to the skin.”
Sir J. Jejeebhoy: (1853–1908) Indian businessman who came to be viewed as the leader of the Parsi community throughout the world. “Who’s Who” punningly identifies him as an “Irish horseman” based on the similar sound of his name to “gee-gee bhoy.” [Karen Shotting]
Gilbert L. Jessop: 1874–1955) English cricketer, often reckoned to have been the fastest run-scorer cricket has ever known. P.G. mentions Jessop a few times in early stories, notably in his second article for Punch, a farcical piece called “Under M.V.C. Rules.”
A. O. Jones: (1872–1914), cricketer, noted as an all-rounder.
Dr. Gilbert Kapp: (1852–1922) Electrical engineer, author; consultant to the government on national illumination
Fred Karno: (b. Frederick John Westcott, 1866–1941) theatre impresario of the British music hall; credited with inventing the cream-pie-in-the-face gag. Among the young comedians who worked for him were Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Jefferson, who was to become Stan Laurel.
Imre Kiralfy: (1845–1919) Entertainment impresario, known for producing huge stage spectacles in major cites around the world. He replicated his Great White City (World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893) in London for the 1908 Olympic games. His Broadway production of the play Excelsior was the first show on Broadway to have electric lighting (1884) installed by Thomas Edison.
Neville A. Knox (1884–1935), cricketer, one of the fastest bowlers ever to play for England – probably capable of speeds over 150 km/h (93 mph). Knox attended Dulwich College and played with Wodehouse on the First Eleven. Wodehouse had ghost-written an article on fast bowling published under Knox’s name in the Daily Mail in 1907.
William Lever: worked in his father’s grocer’s shop in Bolton and expanded the family firm into a thriving local concern until 1866 when he began a new business making, packaging and selling Sunlight Soap, which lead to an industrial empire eventually employing 185,000 people around the world.
Marie Lloyd: (b. Matilda Alice Victoria Wood, 1870–1922) “Queen of the Music Hall,” she enjoyed a reputation for being “racy” and using sexual double entendres.
Lilley: Arthur Frederick Augustus “Dick” Lilley (1866–1929) English cricketer who played in 35 Test Matches from 1896 to 1909.
Eustace H. Miles: Nutritionist, author, champion tennis player; “Gourmand. Grew accustomed to living on raw meat in early boyhood, and has allowed the taste to become a craving with him. Now eats five pounds of prime steak, underdone, at each meal, and has to be kept from pork chops by force.” (Who’s Who) P.G. mentioned Miles in articles in Books of To-Day and Tomorrow, Punch and Vanity Fair.
Lucas Malet: (b. Mary St Leger Kingsley, 1852–1931), Victorian novelist.
Thomas Marlowe: Editor of the Daily Mail from 1899 to 1926.
Sam Mayo: (b. Sam Cowan, 1875–1938) Vaudeville and music hall composer, singer and comedian; by 1904 he was established on the music halls as Sam Mayo, The Immobile One, singing his droll songs with an expressionless face, a stooping posture and usually wearing a dressing gown and his red wig.
Sir George Newnes: (1851–1910); 1st Baronet; publisher and editor. His best known publication was The Strand Magazine, begun in 1891, which published Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes series. He also founded The Westminster Gazette (1873), Tit-Bits (1881), The Wide World Magazine (1888), Country Life (1897), and the boys’ magazine The Captain (1899), in which many of Wodehouse’s school stories and novels first appeared. The Strand published over two hundred of Wodehouse’s stories and serialized episodes of novels from 1905 to 1940. Tit-Bits published one of his earliest efforts, “Men Who Have Missed Their Weddings” from 1900, as well as a serialization of The Intrusions of Jimmy in 1910. In book form, Newnes published Wodehouse’s Love Among the Chickens (1906), The Prince and Betty (1912), and My Man Jeeves (1919).
Guy Nickalls: Rower who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics as a member of the gold-medal British team.
Lord Northcliffe: Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865–1922) powerful newspaper and publishing magnate; exercised vast influence over British popular opinion with the largest periodical publishing empire in the world, Amalgamated Press. He began with The Evening News in 1894 (nine Wodehouse articles 1903–1906); in 1896, he began publishing the Daily Mail (seven PGW stories and articles, including serialization of If I Were You in 1931). His paper Answers ran one of Wodehouse’s earliest published stories, When Papa Swore in Hindustani, in 1901. He transformed a Sunday newspaper, the Weekly Dispatch, into the Sunday Dispatch which became the highest circulation Sunday newspaper in Britain and he founded The Daily Mirror in 1903. Lord Northcliffe was also involved in politics. For example, his newspapers — especially The Times — reported the Shell Crisis of 1915 with such zeal that it brought down the wartime government of Prime Minister Asquith. He helped to bring about Lloyd George’s appointment as Prime Minister in 1916. Norman Murphy points out numerous parallels to Northcliffe with Wodehouse’s fictional publisher magnate Lord Tilbury (including a Napoleon complex).
Alfred Noyes: (1880–1958) poet, best known for his ballads The Highwayman (1906) and The Barrel Organ.
Oddenino’s: London restaurant and nightclub located at 54-62 Regent Street.
Lt. Col. Nathaniel Newnham-Davis (1854–1917) soldier, playwright, epicure, restaurant critic for the Pall Mall Gazette; author 1908 The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe; he was described as “delightfully eccentric.”
E. (Edward) Phillips Oppenheim: (1866–1946) a major and successful writer of genre fiction; featured on the cover of Time in 1927, he was the self-styled “prince of storytellers.” He wrote more than a hundred novels, mostly of the suspense and international intrigue nature, as well as romances, comedies, and parables of everyday life. Oppenheim and Wodehouse became friends and golfing partners. According to Norman Murphy, Oppenheim claimed he gave Wodehouse the idea of describing the customers in Mr. Mulliner’s Anglers’ Rest by the drinks they consumed. He dedicated his books King By Night and The Gaunt Stranger to Wodehouse, who in turn dedicated 1930’s Very Good, Jeeves to Oppenheim. “Kidnapped by anarchists as a baby, but escaped in disguise, having stabbed three of his captors with a jeweled dagger.” (Who’s Who)
A. W. Pinero: Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855–1934) Serious English dramatist. Pinero was about the only playwright of his time, apart from Wilde, who wrote strong parts for leading ladies.
Dr. Carl Peters (1856–1918) was one of the founders of German East Africa (today’s Tanzania); in 1891 he went to East Africa as imperial high commissioner for the Kilimanjaro district, but his brutal behavior against the local population provoked an uprising which was to cost him his office. “Amiable explorer; frequently in the most distant parts of the earth, but unfortunately does not stop there.” (Who’s Who)
Wal Pink: Writer, composer, lyricist and performer for the English music halls and a collaborator with Edgar Wallace; he was a founding member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, the show business charity organization.
George Redford: For seventeen years Examiner of Plays under Lord Chamberlain, charged with enforcing standards of decency in the London theater.
Paul A. Rubens: (1875–1917) songwriter and scribe of musicals for the Edwardian musical comedy stage, including Jerome Kern’s The Girl from Utah in 1913; he met actress Phyllis Dare when she was cast in The Sunshine Girl and wrote a number of songs for her.
Arthur Roberts: (1852–1933) English comedian, music hall entertainer and actor. He was famous for portraying pantomime dames and comic characters.
Malcolm Scott: (1872–?) known as “The Woman Who Knows”; music hall performer who specialized in female impersonations. Two of his best known characters were extravagantly dressed: Elizabeth I and her step-mother, Katharine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife.
Sir Percy Scott: In 1907 Scott was in command of the 1st Cruiser squadron of the Channel Fleet.
George Bernard Shaw: (1856–1950) Irish playwright and author of more than sixty plays. Nearly all of his writings deal with prevailing social problems, but are leavened by a vein of comedy to make their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege and found them all defective, but his ire was most aroused by the exploitation of the working class. In the course of his political activities he met Charlotte Payne-Townshend, an Irish heiress and fellow socialist, whom he married in 1898. (This may explain why Bingo Little’s amour in “Comrade Bingo” from 1922 is named Charlotte Corday Rowbotham.) His biggest success was Pygmalion (1912)—on which the award-winning My Fair Lady (1956) is based. Wodehouse knew the vegetarian Shaw fairly well, and his letters mention him several times, not always in a complimentary way. “Exhibited in early years an unquenchable passion for raw meat, which he has never been entirely able to overcome. Eats two underdone steaks at each meal. Has assumed position of Confidential Adviser to the World.” (Who’s Who)
William Thomas (W. T.) Stead: (1849–1912) English journalist; editor of the Pall Mall Gazette 1883–1889. His enterprise and originality exercised a potent influence on contemporary journalism and politics.
Signor Scotti: Italian baritone Antonio Scotti (1866–1936), principal baritone of the Metropolitan Opera for 25 years.
Harry Tate: (1872–1940) Scottish comedian who performed both in the music halls and in films.
Ellaline Terriss: (b. Ellaline Lewin, 1872–1971), popular English actress and singer. She married Seymour Hicks in 1893 and they joined forces with producer Charles Frohman. Over a period of seven years, the couple played the leads in a series of musicals written by Hicks, including Bluebell in Fairyland (1901), The Cherry Girl (1902), and The Beauty of Bath (1906), which included additional lyrics by Wodehouse and music by Kern.
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree: (1852–1917) English actor-manager. His younger half-brother was the parodist and caricaturist Max Beerbohm. He played many leading roles including Henry Higgins in the premiere of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion in 1914.
Vesta Victoria: (1873–1951) English music hall singer and comedian. Although born in Leeds, Yorkshire, she adopted a Cockney persona on stage. Her solo career took off in 1892 when “Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow Wow” became a hit. Vesta’s comic laments delivered in deadpan style were as popular in the United States as in her homeland and she toured and recorded in America in 1907, where she was one of the most highly paid artists in vaudeville.
Vesta Tilley: (b. Matilda Alice Powles 1864–1952) English male impersonator. At the age of 11, she adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley and became the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of her day. She was a star in both England and the US for over thirty years.
William Wymark (W. W.) Jacobs: (1863–1943), English author of short stories and novels, now best remembered for his macabre tale “The Monkey’s Paw” from 1902.
Monckton-Caryll-Stuart-Reubens Syndicate: Lionel John Alexander Monckton (1861–1924) English writer and composer of musical theatre, was Britain’s most popular musical theatre composer of the early years of the 20th century. In 1902, he married Gertie Millar, one of the most successful actresses of the period, whom he had discovered. She starred in many of Monckton’s shows, and he wrote some of his most popular songs for her.
Ivan Caryll: (b. Felix Tilkins, 1861–1921). Belgian composer of some forty operettas and Edwardian musical comedies. The dashing, moustachioed Caryll was known as one of the best dressed men in London. He was an extravagant spender and a popular and lavish host, entertaining his theatrical friends in princely style. Caryll composed the music for almost all the Gaiety musical comedies for the next decade, in collaboration with Lionel Monckton, and also established himself as the most famous conductor of light music in England. He relocated to New York City in 1911, composing more than a dozen Broadway musicals, including The Pink Lady (1911) and The Girl Behind the Gun (Kissing Time) with lyrics by Guy Bolton and Wodehouse in 1918.
Leslie Stuart (b. Thomas Augustine Barrett, 1863–1928); British composer of musical theatre, known for the hit show Florodora (1899) and many popular songs. Florodora, with traditional slow love ballads as well as waltzes and more rhythmic and playful numbers, became a huge worldwide hit, due in no small part to the six charming and beautiful Florodora Girls. It was a show business joke for many years that every chorus girl would brag about having been one of the original sextette. (See The Adventures of Sally and the end notes to that serial episode for more Wodehouse references to the show and the fame of the sextette.)
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Acknowledgments: Thanks to Norman Murphy for his assistance on the original 2008 version of this article and for the citations from his A Wodehouse Handbook. Grateful appreciation to Raja Srinivasan for access to the British Library Newspapers database and to Ananth Kaitharam and Neil Midkiff for wrestling it into publishable form.
Excerpts from The Globe By The Way Book are © copyright by the Wodehouse Estate and are reprinted here with their express permission.
P. G. Wodehouse in 1903, at age 21, when he began regular staff work on the “By the Way” column.