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The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith

The Diary of a Nobody (1892)

by George Grossmith, Weedon Grossmith (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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"Some people seem quite destitute a sense of Humour."

The Diary of a Nobody was originally intended as a spoof against all the diaries that were being published and serialised at the time of writing yet today in the age of Blogs, Facebook and Twitter, where celebrity status can be gained seemingly without an awful lot of talent, it seems even more relevant.

The book centres around Charlie Pooter (the Nobody), his wife Carrie and their son Lupin. Charlie Pooter is a City clerk who lives with his wife in Holloway. Their son Willie initially works for a bank in Oldham but early in the diary returns home after being dismissed announcing that he wants to be known by his middle name Lupin henceforth. Lupin is a chancer and everything that his father isn't.

Mr Pooter has a strong sense of his own worth yet every-time he finds himself in a position that might work to his advantage some social gaffe means he misses out on the opportunity. The Pooters’ life is therefore made up of small pleasures and modest social occasions, many of which end embarrassingly and usually also involve his close friends Mr Gowings and Mr Cummings. Yet despite it all he ultimately triumphs.

Sadly the world of Charles Pooter, a world of simple pleasures and of lifelong loyalty to one employer, has long disappeared yet there will probably be opportunities for people like Lupin. Yet it could be argued that the literary influence of this book, (Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones for example) can still be seen today. In fact many of the embarrassing misunderstandings that afflict Mr Pooter are directly reflected in these much later characters and afore mentioned Bloggers etc.

When Mr Pooter tells Carrie and Lupin that, “I was in hopes that, if anything ever happened to me, the diary would be an endless source of pleasure to you both; to say nothing of the chance of the remuneration which may accrue from its being published”, both “burst out laughing”. But by way of an apology Carrie states; "I did not mean to be rude, dear Charlie; but truly I do not think your diary would sufficiently interest the public to be taken up by a publisher."

There is a brief preview before each chapter which gives a tantalising outline of what is to follow without giving away too much detail. This is not a book that will make you laugh out loud, rather it has a gentle absurdity about it. I ended up feeling a great empathy for staid old Charlie hoping that his loyalty and sense of duty would ultimately prevail, as such I felt that the author's writing style set exactly the right tone. It is a book that has withstood the test of time, one that you read with a smile on your face and as such it deserves to be regarded as a classic. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Oct 29, 2018 |
It was a fairly quick read. It was funny too, I'll admit that. Not laugh out loud funny, but kind of sitcom-like, if it were a sitcom based in 1892! In fact, the date thing is funny, as what struck me most was that even though the book is 114 years old, it still feels...well, not modern, but not as dated as you'd expect. It was a pleasant enough read. Not really my thing, but it was interesting to read outside of my comfort zone. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
The Diary of a Nobody written by George Grossmith and illustrated by his brother Weedon Grossmith is an English comic novel that was first published as a serial in Punch magazine in 1888-89 and then presented in book form in 1892. The book is written as the diary that records the daily lives of a London clerk, Charles Pooter, his wife Carrie, his son Lupin and many of his friends and acquaintances over a 15 month period has become a true classic and is still in print today.

Much of the humor in this book is developed from the Pooter’s attempt to rise above their middle class life and the social humiliations that this resulted in. Charles Pooter’s pretensions and petty concerns become a wry satire on middle class aspirations that often sees the reader chuckling and wincing at the same time.

The Diary of a Nobody is a quick and amusing read that is quaint and funny yet also gives us a glimpse into the past and a way of life that has for the most part disappeared. Even though the book is more than a century old, many will recognize the timeless character of Pooter from their own social circle or even from gazing into the mirror. ( )
3 vote DeltaQueen50 | Feb 25, 2018 |
Originally in Punch
  stevholt | Nov 19, 2017 |
"I left the room with silent dignity but caught my foot in the mat." (Dec 21). This sentence pretty much sums up the humour of The Diary of a Nobody. We can all probably relate; hence the enduring appeal of this little book.
1 vote booksaplenty1949 | Jun 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grossmith, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grossmith, WeedonIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Glinert, EdIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Irwin, MichaelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmer, GeoffreyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Squire, J. C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, W.E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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originally appeared in Punch
and is re-published by permission of the publishers
Messrs Bradbury and Agnew
The Diary has been since considerably added to
The excellent title was suggested
by our mutual friend
to whom we have
the great pleasure of dedicating this volume
London, June, 1892
First words
My dear wife Carrie and I have just been a week in our new house, "The Laurels," Brickfield Terrace, Holloway -- a nice six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour.
He may wear what he likes in the future, for I shall never drive with him again. His conduct was shocking. When we passed Highgate Archway, he tried to pass everything and everybody. He shouted to respectable people who were walking quietly in the road to get out of the way; he flicked at the horse of an old man who was riding, causing it to rear; and, as I had to ride backwards, I was compelled to face a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart, whom Lupin had chaffed, and who turned and followed us for nearly a mile, bellowing, indulging in coarse jokes and laughter, to say nothing of occasionally pelting us with orange-peel.
"It was mentioned in the Bicycle News."
I told Sarah not to bring up the blanc-mange again for breakfast. It seems to have been placed on our table at every meal since Wednesday… In spite of my instructions, that blanc-mange was brought up again for supper. To make matters worse, there had been an attempt to disguise it, by placing it in a glass dish with jam round it...I told Carrie, when we were alone, if that blanc-mange were placed on the table again I should walk out of the house.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140437320, Paperback)

Channelling a razor-sharp satire through the everyday mishaps of the immortal comic character Mr Pooter, George and Weedon. Grossmith's "The Diary of a Nobody" is edited with an introduction and notes by Ed Glinert in "Penguin Classics". Mr Pooter is a man of modest ambitions, content with his ordinary life. Yet he always seems to be troubled by disagreeable tradesmen, impertinent young office clerks and wayward friends, not to mention his devil-may-care son Lupin with his unsuitable choice of bride. In the bumbling, absurd, yet ultimately endearing character of Pooter, the Grossmith brothers created a wonderful portrait of the class system and the inherent snobbishness of the suburban middle-class suburbia - one which sends up the late Victorian crazes for Aestheticism, spiritualism and bicycling, as well as the fashion for publishing diaries by anybody and everybody. This edition contains the original illustrations by Weedon Grossmith and an introduction by Ed Glinert, author of "The London Compendium", discussing the novel's serialisation in "Punch", the growth of the suburbs and the figure of Mrs Pooter. George Grossmith (1847-1912) initially worked as a journalist, reporting Police Court proceedings for "The Times". In 1870 he began his career as a singer and entertainer, creating some of the most memorable characters in Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas. Weedon Grossmith (1854-1919) brother of George, was educated at the Slade and the Royal Academy with a view to following a career as a painter, and exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery and the Royal Academy. Joining a theatre company in 1885, he toured the provinces and America. The best-known of his many plays, "The Night of the Party", was published in 1901. If you enjoyed "The Diary of a Nobody", you might like Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat", also available in "Penguin Classics". "The funniest book in the world." ("Evelyn Waugh"). "True humour ...with its mixture of absurdity, irony and affection ...a masterpiece, immortal." (J.B. Priestley).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:22 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Mr Pooter is a man of modest ambitions, content with his ordinary life. Yet he always seems to be troubled by disagreeable tradesmen, impertinent young office clerks, and wayward friends, not to mention his devil-may-care son Lupin's unsuitable choice of bride. Try as he might, he cannot avoid life's embarrassing mishaps. In the bumbling, absurd yet ultimately endearing figure of Pooter, the Grossmiths created an immortal comic character and a superb satire on the snobberies of middle-class suburbia - one which also sends up late Victorian crazes for aestheticism, spiritualism and bicycling, as well as the fashion for publishing diaries by anybody and everybody. This edition contains the original illustrations by Weedon Grossmith and an introduction by Ed Gilbert discussing the novel's initial serialization in Punch,the growth of suburbs and the figure of Mrs Pooter.… (more)

» see all 16 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140437320, 0241956862

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