Category: George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith

book review – The Diary of a Nobody


Most humourous books from the late 1880s and early 1900s lose their comic magic as a result of the passage of time. Lumped in with that I would have to put Three Men in a Boat which sums up the distance between a readership now and one from the gentler past.

But The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith is refreshingly alive. The humour here is subtle, clever and able to provoke not just a smile but the occasional loud guffaw.

Simply the lead character, Charles Pooter, is unable to see the way in which he annoys most around him with his pettiness and with the reader being one step ahead there is the enjoyment of watchign the accident that you have been waiting yto happen. But this is not about tragedy or using a lead character to show the injustice of the world in the spirit of Poor Folk by Dostoyevsky. Clearly the idea is to let things end with happiness and success for all concerned so Pooter might have his run-ins with servants and trades people but in the end is rewarded by his City firm for his loyalty.

He suffers the jokes of his friends and the insolence of his son but that is mainly because not many people, in fact only one, sees the world through the eyes of Mr Chalres Pooter. But you are never put in a position as a reader where you dislike Pooter and it is his qualities of voicing things that although slightly different for a 21 century context we all feel. The jokes are well worked and there is a clever weaving in of themes that ebb and flow with the reader enjoying the reappearance of the joke. But it is Pooter’s indignation – a grumpy old man long before TV invented the concept – that really entertains. If he didn’t get so worked up and at the same time display incredible insecurity and vulnerability then he would never work and the concept of the diary of a nobody would fail.

It is also worth making a point about the illustrations that add to the mood and from a modern reader’s point of view provide a sketched window into a world of the past. Top hats, gas lights and grocer’s boys are all fleshed out with illustrations by Weedon.

Quicke to consume but clever and inspiration for numerous other atempts the book deserves to continue to be read and enjoyed.

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book review – The Diary of a Nobody


Most humourous books from the late 1880s and early 1900s lose their comic magic as a result of the passage of time. Lumped in with that I would have to put Three Men in a Boat which sums up the distance between a readership now and one from the gentler past.

But The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith is refreshingly alive. The humour here is subtle, clever and able to provoke not just a smile but the occasional loud guffaw.

Simply the lead character, Charles Pooter, is unable to see the way in which he annoys most around him with his pettiness and with the reader being one step ahead there is the enjoyment of watchign the accident that you have been waiting yto happen. But this is not about tragedy or using a lead character to show the injustice of the world in the spirit of Poor Folk by Dostoyevsky. Clearly the idea is to let things end with happiness and success for all concerned so Pooter might have his run-ins with servants and trades people but in the end is rewarded by his City firm for his loyalty.

He suffers the jokes of his friends and the insolence of his son but that is mainly because not many people, in fact only one, sees the world through the eyes of Mr Chalres Pooter. But you are never put in a position as a reader where you dislike Pooter and it is his qualities of voicing things that although slightly different for a 21 century context we all feel. The jokes are well worked and there is a clever weaving in of themes that ebb and flow with the reader enjoying the reappearance of the joke. But it is Pooter’s indignation – a grumpy old man long before TV invented the concept – that really entertains. If he didn’t get so worked up and at the same time display incredible insecurity and vulnerability then he would never work and the concept of the diary of a nobody would fail.

It is also worth making a point about the illustrations that add to the mood and from a modern reader’s point of view provide a sketched window into a world of the past. Top hats, gas lights and grocer’s boys are all fleshed out with illustrations by Weedon.

Quicke to consume but clever and inspiration for numerous other atempts the book deserves to continue to be read and enjoyed.

Diary of a Nobody – post II

It’s rare for humour to last across a couple of generations. It can still cause a smile but books like Scoop and three men in a Boat are hardly going to cause you to split your sides laughing.

There are moments when this feels the same with the gentle humour ticking away but then there are flashes of real brilliance as Pooter and his wife clash. The chapter on the Lord Mayor’s ball is very clever with the wife filling in the misisng details at the end.

As a way to relax last thing at night it is hard to better this for a funny and distracting read.

More to come…

The Diary of a Nobody – post I

There are some books that get the blurb on the back that describes them as a work of comic genius and “hilarious”. Sadly those of a certain age, and you can throw in Scoop and Three men in a Boat into this category, have dated with age.

But the pleasant surprise about The Diary of Nobody is that the main character is a man for all times. Someone unable to see themselves from an external angle and someone unable to almost completely comprehend their failure to interact with the world. The hilarity comes from Mr Pooter’s amazing sense of self confidence as the world around him turns against him.

From work colleagues, butchers and friends there is no one that Mr Pooter cannot offend but believe that he has been insulted when they react to his jokes and complaints.

More soon…