THE WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE1795 - Wold Newton meteor strike: Eighteen individuals "were riding in two coaches past Wold Newton, Yorkshire.... A meteorite struck only twenty yards from the two coaches.... The bright light and heat and thunderous roar of the meteorite blinded and terrorized the passengers, coachmen, and horses.... They never guessed, being ignorant of ionization, that the fallen star had affected them and their unborn." Tarzan Alive, Addendum 2, pp. 247-248. The meteor strike was "the single cause of this nova of genetic splendor, this outburst of great detectives, scientists, and explorers of exotic worlds, this last efflorescence of true heroes in an otherwise degenerate age." Id., pp.230-231.         Artwork by Lisa Eckert

Maintained by Win Scott Eckert


Part XI

The Wold Newton Articles pages contain several types of articles, ranging from pure information about the Wold Newton Universe (such as Lou Mougin's The Continuing Crossovers Affair and Brad Mengel's The Edson Connection), to more speculative pieces (such as Chuck Loridans' The Daughters of Tarzan), to a mixture a both.

The presence of an article on these pages does not necessarily constitute an integration of that article's theories and speculation into the history described imy own Wold Newton Universe Crossover Chronology. Rather, the purpose of the articles pages is encourage free thinking, theorizing, hypothesizing, and research into the mysteries of the Newtonverse.

Search The Wold Newton Universe

Mark Brown's Wold Newton Chronicles follows the tradition of featuring the very best in scholarship and articles on Wold Newton topics ranging far and wide.

Dennis Power also presents erudite Wold Newton speculative research on his site The Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe.

From now on, please forward your articles to Win, to Mark, and to Dennis. We will consider submissions and coordinate for posting on one of our sites.

Men Without Names

By Matthew Ilseman


According to Win Eckert’s "The Dynasty of Fu Manchu," the man who Dashiell Hammett called the Continental Op was in all likelihood John Smith brother to Denis Nayland Smith. The Op was a survivor of the Titanic. After the disaster, he cut off all communication with his family and joined the Continental Detective Agency. When Dashiell Hammett began publishing his adventures, his name was kept secret. Later, when he struck off on his own he went by the pseudonym Brad Runyon. The question remains why all the secrecy?

There is no certain answer to this question. Perhaps he had a falling out with his family, but we might never know.

What nevertheless remain are the simple facts: John Smith died during the Titanic tragedy and was reborn as the Continental Op. The stories tell very little of the Op’s private life. While this may be seen as an attempt to obscure his identity, the simple truth is that he really had none. He dedicated himself to his job. It became his life. He did not interact with others outside of work much. He had friends, but mostly they were other operatives. He most certainly did not get involved with his client’s lives.

Except once.

In the 1920s, the Continental Detective Agency was approached to find some valuable shipments that were stolen from the San Francisco docks. A crate containing manuscripts from the British Museum was stolen. The manuscripts contained key to a code that had been recorded by the Brother Adso who chronicled a series of murders in a monastery that were solved by William of Baskerville. The code itself was copied from a manuscript from monastery’s library before it burned down.

The Op was sent to find the manuscript. He started by interviewing the workers on the loading dock. These included an Italian immigrant who I will not name. This dock worker was known to have been involved with minor crime.

It seemed that the dockworker had been involved in the heist. The basic idea was that they were going to sell the code to Fascist Italy. The Op confronted the dock worker with what he knew. The dock worker reacted hostilely and a fight almost broke out before they were interrupted by the dock worker’s sister. The sister prevented the fight. She was then able to convince the Op to let her brother go if her brother was able to provide him with the manuscripts. The Op agreed and his involvement would have ended with the return of the documents, except for one thing.

Something about the Sister caused the Op to want to see her again. Soon they began a romance and within a month they were married. Nine months later a son was born to them. What they named him I will not tell you. Also he would never use the surname of Smith.

Tragedy struck not long after the birth of his son. When the FBI attempted to arrest one of the spies, a man named Russo, a shoot out between the G-men and the spy ensued. The spy was killed. The spy’s wife swore revenge. Instead of blaming the G-men who killed her husband, Ms. Angelina Russo blamed the man who had given the information to the FBI. She planned not kill the Op, but to kill the person he cared about most. The Op returned from work one day to find his wife murdered. While it would make good fiction if the Op was the one who brought Ms. Russo to justice, he did not. Though he began his own personal investigation, the police found Russo first. She was arrested and eventually executed for the crime.

The Op then chose to give up his son. What became of the child? Well, in the seventies, a series of books about a private investigators who has many similarities to the Op. Like the Op he chose not to reveal his name to the public. He was called the Nameless Detective and his life was chronicled by Bill Pronzini.

There are many similarities between the two. One: they are both good detectives. Two: they have same basic physical type: both somewhat out of shape. Three: Both live in San Francisco. Four: Both are extremely dedicated to their work. Five: they were both loners; however they both gave up their solitary existence when they met the right woman.

Nameless was raised by his uncle, the dockworker, and his wife and was told that he was their son. It was not a happy childhood. Although the aunt loved him like he was her biological child, the uncle was not a terribly good father. He was involved in more than a few shading doings, but worse he was a drunk and abusive to his family. This was possibly due to his uncle’s resentment of the Op.

Either hereditary trumped environment, or Nameless willed himself to become somebody better than the man who raised him. Does Nameless know about his heritage? He might. Nameless is well known to be a collector of pulp magazines where his father’s exploits (along with many other famous detectives) were published. Perhaps he began the hobby seeking to learn more about his true father, or perhaps not. Either way took the pulp heroes as his models and, though he would deny it, he himself became a hero.


Appendix A


Nameless has worked with or at least met several other literary investigators. The most recurrent of these is Sharon McCone. Nameless has worked with her on several occasions. In the book Doubles, Nameless meets her at private investigator convention and works with her to solve a murder. He also runs into Brock “The Rock” Callahan, whose life has been chronicled by William Campbell Gaunt, and Miles Jacoby, whose cases were chronicled by Robert J. Randisi. At the same convention, McCone runs into Wold Newton family member Kinsey Millhone. In Twospot, Nameless works with San Francisco Police Department Lieutenant Frank Hastings from Collin Wilcox’s series.


Appendix B


The Op did not let Hammett publish an account of these events. A contact at The Continental Agency managed to slip me the Op’s personal notebooks. These were then verified by News Paper accounts of the murder and subsequent trial.

Nameless true name is not hard to find out. I merely searched old San Francisco newspapers for details on the kidnapping which was fictionalized in the first novel of the series, The Snatch. I will however respect Nameless’s right to privacy and not reveal it.



Nameless Book Series by Bill Pronzini

Continental Op series by Dashiell Hammett

"The Dynasty of Fu Manchu" by Win Scott Eckert

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco





All rights reserved. The text of these articles is ©2008 by the author, Matthew Iselman. No copying or reproduction of these articles or any portions thereof in any form whatsoever is permitted without prior written permission and consent of the authors.


Murder Magnetism: Four Case Studies

By Matthew Ilseman


Wold Newton researchers are aware of the phenomenon known as “probability magnetism” or “human magnetic moment” where certain people are the focus of unlikely events. One of the most common forms of probability magnetism is what I call “crime magnetism” or “murder magnetism”. This is a force that draws a person to the scene of a crime, usually a murder. This is the phenomenon that causes Father Brown or Lord Peter Wimsey or Miss Marple to repeatedly find themselves in criminal investigations. Often people afflicted by murder magnetism often find themselves forced to become “amateur detectives” and solve the crimes themselves. 

            Murder Magnetism follows several principals:

            When a murder is committed, the person possessed by murder magnetism will find himself drawn to the crime. He might take a cruise only to find someone murdered on the ship. Or his car might breakdown in a rain storm near a Gothic manor where the murder may happen.

            This happens to the person repeatedly. Otherwise it might be mere coincidence.

            The person usually has to solve the murder himself. While he may be a professional, often he is not. The four subjects studied here include: a cowboy who wants to be a detective, a mystery writer, a private investigator, and Japanese high school student.

In this article, I present four cases of this.

            The oldest is the case of Gustav “Old Red” and Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer. The Amlingmeyer brothers were two cowboys in the 1890’s whose lives are presented a series of books and short stories by Steve Hockensmith based on manuscripts by Otto. Their lives were unremarkable until one night on a cattle drive they read Dr. John Watson’s account of “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.” Or rather Otto read it to Gustav who was illiterate. This turned out to be a life changing event for the brothers, particularly Gustav. While lacking in education, Gustav was nevertheless highly intelligent. It struck him that Holmes’s deductive techniques was not something one had to go to school to learn. Gustav was so impressed that he began to idolize Holmes and decided to become a detective. This would seem a forlorn hope, but soon enough one of the other trail hands was killed seemingly by Indians. Gustav deduced that was not the case and caught the real killer.1 This itself would be unusual. What was truly astounding is that they kept running into mysteries.2

            It is unknown if it was Gustav or Otto (or possibly both) who was affected murder magnetism. The Amlingmeyer brothers rarely separated. It seems probable that it was Gustav since in most cases it is the detective that is drawn to the crime scene.

            Perhaps, one of the best known cases of murder magnetism is the life of Jessica Fletcher.3 Fletcher was a best-selling mystery writer who routinely ran into murder. Her hometown of Cabot Cove had the highest murder rate of any town that size in the U.S. Even when she left town she would invariable find herself entangled with homicide. This was all portrayed in the television show based on her life.

            What the show did not portray very well was the effect that this had on her psyche. She began to believe that she somehow caused the murders. She even considered suicide. Fortunately, she rejected this notion, but decided to spare her beloved Cabot Cove and move to New York. This choice would have little effect. She would continue run into murder and Cabot Cove would continue to have a high homicide rate.4

            The third case is that of Adrian Monk, 5 best known as the obsessive-compulsive detective. Monk is perhaps unique in that he was a professional crime-solver. He deals with murder all the time: First, as a homicide detective on the San Francisco police force, later, after a mental breakdown due to the murder of his wife, as a consultant to the police and a private detective.6 Yet even when he was off the job he encounters murders.

            When on vacation with his nurse Sharona Fleming (a very distant relative of James Bond’s biographer), her son, Benjamin, sees a murder committed at the hotel they are staying at. Monk, of course, ends up having to solve the case. When on a plane (despite his severe phobia of flying) with Sharona to visit her aunt, Monk deduces that another passenger has committed murder. Soon after that, Sharona’s sister is framed for murder committed during a play Monk was attending.

            Once, when riding with Natalie Teeger (who became his assistant after Sharona quit) to pick up her daughter, he witnesses a Chinese Triad hit. He is then moved to a cabin by the Witness Protection Program. He is not their long before he solves yet another murder.

Natalie at first is somewhat upset and tells Monk he has “bad karma.” Later, she realizes that is good thing because otherwise the crimes would go unsolved. This seems to suggest that murder magnetism is some sort of balancing force in the universe. It draws the person best suited to solving the crime to the crime.

The final case is that Kindaichi Hajime.7 While not well known in the west, Kindaichi is a famous teenage detective in Japan.8 He is the grandson of one of Japan’s most famous detectives: Kindaichi Kosuke.9

            Kindaichi was, for lack of better term, a slacker. He did not put much effort into his studies and was wrongfully considered not very bright. The truth was that he just did not have the right motivation. This changed when his friend Nanase Miyuki corralled him into helping the school drama club rehearse at a secluded old hotel. Soon a series of murders are committed by an unknown individual who pattern himself after the infamous Phantom who haunted the Paris Opera. Kindaichi proves his worth by solving the crimes.

            This, as you probably figured out, was not an isolated incident. Not long after this case, Kindaichi and Nanase travel to a friend’s wedding in a village shaped of all things a Star of David. They soon become involve in another series of related murders involving cut up mummies and a town secret. It became a regular occurrence for Kindaichi to encounter some mystery when he leaves town. Not only that, his high school was soon plagued by a murderer known as “The After School Magician.” The name probably sounded more ominous in Japanese.

            For the most part, Kindaichi solved the cases and apprehended the murderers, though usually after a high death toll. Not always, Kindaichi’s nemesis Takato Yoichi10 eluded him, as did the criminal known as the Gentleman Theif,11 and then there was a hit man who specialized in faking natural causes that he was never able to identify.12 Still, he was only human.

            Kindaichi took the murders he encountered and the often tragic events that surrounded them fairly well. While surrounded by traumatizing events, Kindaichi’s easy going attitude seems to have kept his life somewhat happy. It appears that he might have as auspicious a career as his grandfather.   




While murder magnetism seems to affect a number of people, there is a rarer condition that I like to call monster magnetism. This condition is similar to murder magnetism except instead of being drawn to a mundane crime; the person is drawn to the supernatural. One major example of this is Carl Kolchak. Carl was a reporter who investigated supernatural cases. Though lived in variety of different cities (because of repeatedly being laid off) he would routinely encounter supernatural phenomenon.13 He encountered vampires, werewolves, immortal serial killers, zombies, and other nightmares.


1. A letter describing their first case was written by Otto to Holmes himself. It can be read on . It was originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Three other cases were published in its annual Sherlock Holmes issue (strangely, EQMM has repeatedly made the error of listing them under Fiction in the table of contents.) Two longer manuscripts by Otto have been published as Holmes on the Range and On the Wrong Track.


2. Hockensmith has hinted that in one of his later cases, yet to be published, Gustav met his hero Holmes.


3. Her cases were adapted into TV series, Murder, She Wrote.


4. The population of Cabot Cove has since dwindled with a large chunk of the population moving to safer towns.


5. The subject of the biographical television series Monk. Adrian is possibly a descendent of Victorian Era investigator William Monk whose cases were recounted by Anne Perry.


6. A competing detective, who will remain Nameless, said of Monk, “He’d be the most sought after P.I. in San Francisco, if it wasn’t for his… eccentricities.”


7. A manga, Kindaichi Case Files, is based on the cases he solved.


8. He seems to have filled the void of teen detective Kudo Shin’ichi who disappeared about the time Kindaichi’s career began.


9. Kindaichi Kosuke’s biographer is Yokomizo Seishi. Interestingly enough, Kindaichi Hajime has a friendly rival in police superintendent Akechi Kengo a distant relative of Akechi Kogoro (first appearing in the volume Death TV.) He also has also worked with Edward Columbo, who is the nephew of the famed L.A.P.D. detective (in the volume House of Wax).


10. Takato Yoichi would coax people in committing murder in hopes of creating a perfect murder that Kindaichi could not solve.


11. The Gentleman Thief turns out to be a female thief who is a master of disguise. While a name is never given, it is quite possible that it was Mine Fujiko the rival/paramour of Arsene Lupin the III.


12. It is believed that the case was suppressed by Japan’s reigning Liberal Democratic Party. See the book Rain Fall by Barry Eisler.


13. One would think that Kolchak would be drawn to the Hellmouths in Sunnydale and Cleveland. While he has been to both cities, strangely he encountered no paranormal phenomenon.




Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith

Murder, She Wrote TV series

Monk TV series

Kindaichi Case Files manga by Yozaburo Kanari and Fumiya Sato

Kolchak: The Night Stalker





All rights reserved. The text of these articles is ©2008 by the author, Matthew Iselman. No copying or reproduction of these articles or any portions thereof in any form whatsoever is permitted without prior written permission and consent of the authors.


Wode Newton: A Supplement to the Complete[1] Wodehouse Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage

(with Strays from the Almanach de Gotha) of Geoffrey Jaggard.

by Andrew Brook


Wold (pron. “wold”). An open tract of country; term derives from the Anglo-Saxon “wald”, as in “wald forest”, which applied originally to wooded (q.v.) parts of the country.


 Wooded (pron. “wooded”). Covered in wood (q.v.).


 Wood (pron. “wood”). A collection of more or less densely growing trees; a stretch of country supporting such growth.


Wodehouse (pron. “Woodhouse”). Surname of the Earls of Kimberley.


Woodhouse (pron. as though “Wodehouse”[2]). A house or shed in which wood for fuel is deposited; or in heraldry, a variant of Woodwose (pron. “wd’wos”), being a wild man (q.v.) of the woods sometimes found as a supporter on coats of arms.[3]


Wildman (pron. “Savage”). Resident of New York tracing descent from eighteenth-century visitors to Wold (q.v.) Newton.[4]



  ‘Somewhere on earth, as we know, there exists the Complete Concordance to Wodehouse’ wrote Auberon Waugh in February 1979. ‘It was the life’s work of Geoffrey Jaggard, and already extended to over 350,000 words when he published this handbook [Wooster’s World, published 1967] twelve years ago [......] One day, no doubt, some learned or philanthropic foundation will pay to have it all printed’—and indeed, this prediction has come true in more recent times. I once stumbled across the volume of the complete Concordance covering the Golf stories, flicked through it, and on brief reading found it a somewhat dull listing of characters and in which stories they might be found.

  Not so Wooster’s World. Just as Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary is perhaps best considered as literature and as a book of quotations than as an accurate guide to the usage and origin of words, so too should Geoffrey Jaggard’s volume devoted to the Bertie Wooster/Jeeves stories and to the members of the Drones Club. In 1968 Jaggard followed up with Blandings the Blest and The Blue Blood: A Companion to The Blandings Castle Saga of P.G. Wodehouse, LL.D., with A Complete Wodehouse Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, a volume covering not only the Blandings Castle stories but setting out to list every monarch, duke, marquess, earl, viscount, baron, and baronet, and right down to the merest knight, mentioned by P.G. Wodehouse anywhere in his works. It is not as complete as it might be (even Homer nods); there are a few pieces of material duplicating rather than expanding on entries in Wooster’s World; but both books are, nonetheless, a joy from end to end.

  They even expand, legitimately, upon the canon. Jaggard notes in the Introduction to Wooster’s World:


I have never met the Master; but when he heard, as long as 1952, what I was about, he not only bore the blow with fortitude but was kind enough to write, both then and through the ensuing years, with the most heartening encouragement, as well as elucidating, from time to time, such minor problems as the change in Psmith’s Christian name.


and in the Preface to Blandings the Blest:


          In this way, e.g., the Alcester and Malvern marquessates were established.


  Thus, in Blandings the Blest it is revealed that Lancelot ‘Toppy’ Topham, a character simply identified in the novel The Old Reliable as a ‘lord’, is specifically a viscount.

  Another member of the titled classes whose biography is expanded upon by Jaggard is Lord Peter Wimsey, the nobleman-amateur detective whose cases are described in print by Dorothy L. Sayers. Wimsey’s is one of the many names for which there are entries in Blandings the Blest because characters or episodes in Wodehouse’s stories evoked or recalled or referred to them: they were not themselves characters whose doings he chronicled. For example, amongst the ‘Vintage Royalty’ we find


King Lear: the old gentleman’s rollicking gaiety is frequent extolled, and there are wistful references to an England blessed with so equable a climate as that of his time (passim) [.]


In other words, when this mythological king of Britain is mentioned in Wodehouse, it is in reference to Lear as portrayed in Shakespeare’s play on the subject. Lear does not himself appear on Wodehouse’s stage. Wimsey, similarly, is mentioned in Wodehouse in a literary context: for example, in Joy in the Morning:


            “[....] Haven’t you read any detective stories? Ask Lord Peter Wimsey what an alibi amounts to.”

            “Or Monsieur Poirot,” I suggested.

            “Yes, or Reggie Fortune, or Inspector French, or Nero Wolfe. I can’t understand a man of your intelligence falling for that alibi stuff.”


Wolfe, incidentally, also has a brief entry in Blandings the Blest, and fellow-detective Sherlock Holmes is cited in both books. However, their entries are basic—Wimsey’s however, is developed by Jaggard, who expands upon the incidents in which Wimsey is referenced by incorporating information direct from the pen of Sayers: thus, in Wooster’s World:


Wimsey, Lord Peter Death Bredon: younger b. of his Grace the Duke of Denver. Res. 100A Piccadilly, W. Is conjectured by Freddie Widgeon as wondering what to make of a kid’s frock, no kid inside it, floating on the river (Young Men in Spats). Boko Fittleworth is advised by Nobby Hopwood to consult Lord Peter on the dubious value of an alibi, or alternatively to refer to Reggie Fortune, M. Poirot, Inspector French of Nero Wolfe (Joy in the Morning).


  In Blandings the Blest:


Wimsey, Lord Peter Death Bredon: y.s. of the late Duke of Denver and brother of the present holder of the title; speculation on his conjectural views of a kid’s frock, no kid inside it, floating on the river. Res., Duke’s Denver; 110a Piccadilly, W. (Young Men in Spats, Joy in the Morning).


  Wodehouse has no need to mention the Denvers, or Wimsey’s home address. But Jaggard does so, thereby in a sense treating Wimsey on a par with Wodehouse’s own protagonists: such as,


Marshmoreton, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of: John Marsh, 7th Earl, s. his f. the 6th E. as head of a family with Hampshire estates and associations for many centuries. [.....] Heir, Viscount Belpher [..]. Club, Athenaeum; Res., Belpher Castle, Hants. (A Damsel in Distress).


  Implicitly, Jaggard seems to be saying that the worlds of Wimsey and of Wooster are one and the same. If one can visit Belpher Castle, then one can also visit Duke’s Denver (or at least get a bus down Piccadilly).[5] That being so, I began to consider whether it was possible to go beyond Geoffrey Jaggard’s initial work, and see what other Wodehouse characters and families appear to have an existence that may be extended beyond the corpus. There may be six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but far less for almost anybody in a Wodehouse story: following that tradition, therefore, the reader must therefore not be surprised when, having read about a person in this article, they find them popping up again later on.

 I should point out here that I am restricting myself, however, only to those Wodehouse characters bearing titles, beginning at the top of the tree with one of the crowned heads of Europe.





  The impoverished former monarch of this central-European state was first described in print by Evelyn Waugh (father, of course of Auberon; Frank Muir noted in 1990 that four generations of Waughs have been devotees of Wodehouse’s work[6], and I would not be surprised if this list is now longer), in his novel Vile Bodies.[7] The ex-King is presented as a morose, black-bearded European exile, whom we meet on 10th November 1927[8], at a gathering held at the Cavendish Hotel, Duke Street, London by its proprietress, Rosa Lewis (Rosa Lewis is named ‘Lottie Crump’ and the hotel becomes the Shepheards Hotel, Dover Street, in the novel, but although Evelyn Waugh denied that he had based the character on her she still banned him from the premises). The ex-King spends his time remembering the halcyon days, such as they were; his happiest memory seems to be that whereas he was merely deposed and exiled, his Prime Minister got thrown out of a window.

  The works of Evelyn Waugh resemble that of Wodehouse in some limited respects. The two authors were writing at the same time, arguably about the same eras, with their protagonists in the same social class. Like Wodehouse’s characters, many of Waugh’s know each other and the same names recur throughout his books. We find, too, that his work is subject to a concordance, although Waugh’s World: A Guide to the Novels of Evelyn Waugh by Iain Gale (introduction by Auberon Waugh, of course) skips Evelyn Waugh’s historical novel Helena on the grounds it is historical, whereas Jaggard does not disdain Wodehouse’s little-seen William Tell Told Again. In Cocktail Time, published in 1958, Wodehouse describes how Lord Ickenham’s brother-in-law Sir Raymond Bastable QC, in an extended fit of pique, pens a book very much in the strain of Vile Bodies.

  Thus it seems somehow fitting that, subsequent to his appearance in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, the character of the ex-King was picked up by P.G. Wodehouse.[9] In “All’s Well with Bingo” Wodehouse refers to 1920s press reports, the society columnists having spotted His Majesty the ex-King of Ruritania staying at the Hotel Magnifique in Nice with other titled nobility including Their Serene Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Graustark[10]; presumably Their Serene Highnesses were paying His Majesty’s bill. The ex-King’s presence is noted once more in “The Rise of Mina Nordstrom”, this time as a party-guest of the wife of a Hollywood mogul during Prohibition.[11]

  Most of the time, however, the reader finds the ex-King employed as the intimidating doorman of Barribault’s Restaurant in London, although on occasions His Majesty’s ‘prejudice against hobnobbing with the proletariat weaken[s]’, one time enough for him to pass the time of day with William Galahad Lister: Bill


asked the ex-King if he was married, and the ex-King said that he was. Bill then said that he himself ought to have been by now, only the bride hadn’t turned up, and the ex-King said he doubted if a bit of luck like that would happen once in a hundred years.


 This passage in Full Moon, incidentally, seems to confirm that Wodehouse and Waugh were writing about the same man, since in Vile Bodies it is briefly noted that the ex-King has not been fortunate in his choice of a spouse, the ex-Queen being confined to an asylum at the time.

  My research indicates that the ex-King was the illegitimate and posthumous son of ‘Black’ Michael Elphburg, Duke of Strelsau, by his mistress Antoinette de Mauban. Black Michael was the younger son of King Rudolf IV of Ruritania, by His Late Majesty’s second, and morganatic, marriage. It was King Rudolf’s elder son, by his first marriage, also named Rudolf, who was to and who did succeed to his father’s throne, but that did not stop Michael from intriguing against his brother with a view to seizing power himself. His failure to do so, and the events that lead to his death, were chronicled by English tourist and Wold Newton Family member the Hon. Rudolf Rassendyll in his memoir The Prisoner of Zenda, edited by Anthony Hope.[12]

  Antoinette was filled with grief at the news of her beloved’s death, for which she blamed herself, and went into seclusion in France, ‘for which gossip found no difficulty in accounting. Did not all the world know of the treachery and death of Duke Michael?’ According to Rassendyll’s narrative, Bertram Bertrand (poet, and Paris correspondent of The Critic) had long been in love with her but his desires had been thwarted by the presence in her life of Black Michael. With the Duke’s death, it was the opinion of George Featherly at the British Embassy in Paris—a mutual friend of Bertrand and of Rudolf Rassendyll—that Bertrand might supplant Black Michael in Antoinette’s affections, and Rassendyll’s narrative appears to imply that the gossip in Paris was that this had indeed happened, and very quickly at that. My own theory, though, is that she had gone into seclusion in order to give birth to her lover’s posthumous and illegitimate son, and it is this that was meant by the reference to the gossip of the time.

  Considering the dates in question and the physical appearance of the men involved, such a child must be the prime candidate for being the ex-King of whom Wodehouse and Waugh wrote, the latter of whom noted that the child had as godfather none other than the Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand. This indicates that the European royal houses recognised that he was of royal descent, despite his being unable to claim a position in line to inherit the Ruritanian throne. Ruling in Ruritania at this time was Rudolf V, and on his death in 1891 his cousin (also his widow) Queen Flavia succeeded to the throne.[13] She reigned until 1940, when she was killed by the invading German army in the Second World War. During the First World War, too, Ruritania had been occupied by Germany: this was, on both occasions, much to the satisfaction and enthusiasm of much of the population. In the earlier conflict, Flavia had been captured and imprisoned by the forces of the Kaiser in a castle in the Harz Mountains in Germany, and it was only after the armistice of 1918 that she was reinstated on her throne.[14] We know that her young cousin was claiming to be the former King of Ruritania during the 1920s, so it seems plain that, assuming for the moment that he was not a mere pretender to the throne, it must have been after Flavia was imprisoned but before her restoration.

   I submit that the natural choice for a young European aristocrat living in exile in England in 1914, would have been to join the British Army or join the Royal Navy. It is a historical fact that on the Eastern Front, the Russians recruited a Czechoslovak Legion from prisoners of war who had served in the armies of Austro-Hungary but who were prepared to turn against their Emperor in the hope of establishing independence for their homelands. My belief is that the young Elphburg recruited ex-patriot eastern Europeans from the armies of the Allied Powers on the Western Front and formed them into regiments who undertook a perilous sea-voyage to the Baltic in order to join up with the Czechoslovak Legion.

  In 1917 Communist Russia and newly-independent Ukraine exited the war following their agreement with the powers of the Triple Alliance, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Communists agreed to evacuate the Czechoslovak Legion from Europe via Vladivostok, but it is not impossible that some of the troops might have crossed the lines and fled westward, and kept on their campaign against Germany and Austria. I believe that this is what Black Michael’s son did, and that at the war’s end he was able to march his troops into Ruritania as a liberator, and more importantly as his father’s son. Black Michael had been much-loved by the people of Ruritania before his death and disgrace, and many of those who had supported the Germans might have sought to re-establish their patriotism by changing sides and welcoming the young Elphburg to his ancestral home, and by making him—illegitimacy and morganatic marriages aside—King.

  He cannot have ruled for many months. The snippets that Waugh gives us in Vile Bodies suggests he sat on his throne uneasily; he was impoverished, even before he was overthrown, and his cabinet and supporters consisted of a number of shifting alliances. The Paris Peace Conferences of 1919 did not find in his favour, and restored Queen Flavia to her throne (possibly as a result of investigation by Sherlock Holmes[15]); thus the King became the ex-King, and went into exile once more in Europe and America.

  It would appear that some of his family stayed behind. During the 1970s, the post-World War Two Communist regime was rather exceptionally liberal, and tourists visiting the Castle of Elphburg would find that the castle’s custodian was State Employee no. 23642 Mr Michael Elphburg. Technically an Archduke, had titles not been abolished, Michael was understood by many to be the next in line for the defunct throne. It appears that there were other Elphburgs living in Ruritania at the time,[16] although neither Michael nor they had any royalist ambitions of course, and since Flavia’s next heirs were thought to be members of the Austrian and German royal houses[17] the remnant Elphburgs must have been the children and grandchildren of the exiled ex-King. Michael Elphburg was undoubtedly the son of the ex-King, and since his father was also named Michael it seems unquestionable that the ex-King’s name was Michael too.

  Nowadays, of course, there is a King in Ruritania once more, although he is not of this line. Unexpectedly there turned out to be an heir directly and legitimately descended from Queen Flavia herself. Nonetheless, there are hints that General Michael of the Ruritanian Army, himself one of those who brought King Karel Rassendyll Elphburg to the throne, might be a descendent of ex-King Michael.[18]

  I should point out that I do not agree with Jaggard’s belief that the ex-King of Ruritania was that individual encountered by Lord Uffenham in 1955 (Something Fishy). Dressed in the uniform of a Ruritanian Field Marshall, and employed in arranging taxis for Barribault’s clientele, this individual is no aristo' but an unsophisticated prole; vehemently pro-Labour, anti-Fascist, and specifically anti-aristocratic in his political views and voting habits. It seems likely that this is not the ex-King at all but some more humdrum lackey who has had the good fortune to inherit his predecessor’s comic-opera state uniforms. In the late 1940s, Barribault’s doorman was dressed in the uniform of an Admiral of Ruritania (Spring Fever), despite that country being inland.[19] Whether this was the ex-King himself or his left-wing successor cannot be confirmed but, like as to what song the Sirens sang or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, it is not (as the poet Browne observes) beyond all conjecture.





  Little more needs to be added to Jaggard’s entry in Blandings the Blest to describe the present peer:


Topham, the Rt. Hon. Viscount: On the other hand (said Bill) don’t overlook the fact that if you marry Topham, you’ll have half-a-dozen imbecile children, saying ‘Absolutely, what?’ all the time in an Oxford accent.


  Lancelot, Viscount Topham, known to his friends as ‘Toppy’, is a minor character in the Hollywood-set novel The Old Reliable, appearing as a likeable and wealthy young man who is both short of money (because of then-current laws about how much could be taken out of Britain; back home he was stagnant with the stuff) and brain (significant, that: see below). He is a houseguest of a widow named Mrs Cork, who was formerly the silent movie star Adela Shannon.

 Half a century or so before Lancelot inherited the title, His Excellency the Lord Topham was Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Ruritania. The Ambassador relinquished the position in 1888, after representing Queen Victoria at the coronation of King Rudolf V of Ruritania. One of the great hosts of the late Victorian age, Lord Topham’s house-parties numbered such interesting persons as Sherlock Holmes and Rudolf Rassendyll, although Lord Topham’s poor eyesight meant that he could never actually recognise any of his guests.[20] By his will, his house at Grosvenor Square was left in perpetuity to the Ruritanian people; in later years, following a slight breakdown in diplomatic relations between Britain and Ruritania, it housed the Ruritanian Minister to the United Kingdom.[21]

  One of Lord Topham’s daughters appears to have married into the Hatt family, although information is obscure. Whatever the truth, one of the products of the union was the (unfortunately-named) Topham Hatt, the celebrated railwayman and engineer. Having learned his trade under William Stanier at the railway works at Swindon, Topham Hatt was appointed to a directorship of the North Western Railway Company in 1914, in which capacity he was responsible for significant extensions to the railway system and, notably, the design and construction in 1915 of a bridge linking the Island of Sodor to mainland England[22]. In 1936 he was appointed Managing Director, and subsequently at privatisation in 1948, Controller of the North Western Railway. He was also created a baronet, and it can well be said that much of the current prosperity of Sodor can be credited to his careful development of the island’s railway and associated industry.[23]

  Sir Topham Hatt, 1st Baronet, married Jane Brown, and their son was Sir Charles Topham Hatt, 2nd Baronet. Sir Charles, who like his father trained under Stanier and who ultimately succeeded his father as Controller, was instrumental in stopping the Beeching cuts from affecting Sodor. He and his wife Amanda had two children, Sir Stephen Topham Hatt, 3rd Baronet, the current Controller of the now-privatised North Western Railway on which his own son Richard also works, and Bridget Amanda Hatt.[24]

  Leaping back further in history, we will find in the late eighteenth century a Lord Topham in the company of none other than the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), as the then viscount was one of Prinny’s foppish cronies. Lord Topham, known to his friends as ‘Topper’ (in the same way that the present peer is nicknamed ‘Toppy’), did not live to enjoy the trappings of his position in society very long, and he died only a few years after his succeeding to the title, his death occurring in mysterious circumstances possibly connected to the existence of Revolutionary French agents at large in England. Supposedly both Lord Topham and his close friend Lord Smedley were members of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and in light of Sir Percy Blakeney’s presence on Lord Topham’s cousin Edward’s property at Wold Newton around three in the afternoon on Sunday 13th December 1795, this seems probable. However, we have it on the authority of the Comptroller and Governor (‘butler’) of the Household of the Prince of Wales that Topham was not in fact a member of the League at all; thus there is still a mystery surrounding his lordship’s death.[25]

  However, it is interesting to note that the present Lord Topham is as lacking in brain as his ancestor appeared to be—it is absurd to think that idiocy as an acquired trait is heritable, but nevertheless it is an attractive notion.[26] Not only that, but both men were acquainted with men named Smedley. Smedley Cork, the brother-in-law of Adela, is no English gentleman but a thwarted Broadway impresario. According to The Old Reliable, ‘Toppy’ became a guest at Adela Cork’s residence after she lured him away from a rival hostess, but I wonder if it is at all possible that she met him through her brother-in-law.

  It remains to be seen whether the rich American Desborough Topping of Spring Fever is also descended from Lord ‘Topper’.[27]

  The father of Lord ‘Topper’ seems to have been created 1st Viscount Topham in 1745, for services undertaken that year against the Jacobite insurgency. His brother Francis Topham LLD, Master of Faculties and Judge of the Prerogative Court of York, is perhaps more familiar in creative mythographical circles as the father of Edward Topham, soldier, caricaturist, dramatist, journalist, publisher, sportsman, magistrate, litigant, and (as mentioned before) landowner in the vicinity of Wold Newton in Yorkshire.[28]





  During the twentieth century the Earldom of Windermere became extinct. My research has at yet failed to determine very much about the origins of the title, or whether it is associated with the place of the same name (Lake Windermere, being like so many of the other large bodies of water in the Lake District, in that is not technically a lake), despite the roles played by several Earls in English literature.

  Rosie M. Banks was a romantic novelist of the early twentieth century, who was responsible for


a series of narratives in which marriage with young persons of an inferior social status was held up as both feasible and admirable [......] They make very light, attractive reading.


Here is an excerpt from one of her novels, The Woman Who Braved All:


‘What can prevail’ - Millicent’s eyes flashed as she faced the stern old man - ‘what can prevail against a pure and all-consuming love? Neither principalities nor powers, my lord, not all the puny prohibitions of guardians and parents. I love your son, Lord Mindermere, and nothing can keep us apart. Since time first began this love of ours was fated, and who are you to pit yourself against the decrees of Fate?’

            The earl looked at her keenly from beneath his bush eyebrows.

            ‘Humph!’ he said.


  This particular novel becomes of moment in The Inimitable Jeeves, my copy of which at least is inconsistent as to whether the earl is Lord Mindermere or Windermere, but the latter identification seems to be the correct one.

  An earlier Lord Windermere is much the more famous, and again is the central character of a (much more literary) work of literature, Oscar Wilde’s scandal-play Lady Windermere’s Fan.

  According to Philip José Farmer’s narrative The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, in 1867 a French valet named Jean Passepartout (a leading character in Jules Verne’s factual novel Around the World in Eighty Days) was engaged for a time by a Lord Windermere. Mr. Farmer’s book was based upon what purports to be the journal of Phileas Fogg, as written in an alien language and as translated by Phileas Fogg’s great-nephew, the noted linguist of the University of Oxford, Sir Beowulf Clayton, Bt. The diaries, of which in fact only a third could be understood, purport to describe a conflict between alien races hidden amongst mankind, and were it not for the dubious reliability of some of his other statements I would be inclined to echo David Vincent Jr’s statement that ‘The Other Log of Phileas Fogg is a fraud.’[29] One of my concerns is that although Mr. Farmer has been forced to speculate about the motivations of and communications between Fogg, Passepartout and others, he nevertheless has been able to publish details of Passepartout’s employment history and the secret purposes behind them (and the results thereof); but it does not seem that Fogg would necessarily have known about them, or had reason to enter them in his private journals.

  If the account is true, it appears that Passepartout worked for Lord Windermere as cover for investigating potential links between his lordship and the Capelleans, and found none. Mr. Farmer does however state ‘that some of the things he had uncovered could be, probably would be, used by the Eridanean chief to the advantage of the race’. It would be instructive to know what dark secrets Lord Windermere possessed, and how they might be used, but to my knowledge Mr. Farmer has not seen fit to reveal or has been unable to reveal or himself does not know, what they were.

  The earliest Lord Windermere that I have been able to trace is unlikely to be the first to hold the title, as there appears to be nothing in his character or background to warrant deserving marks of royal or political favour in his own right. Lord Windermere was a noted collector of chinaware during the early nineteenth century, buying from one of the early Duveens as well as from the founder of that family who would become the Duveens’ great rivals, the Mortdecais. The memoirs of Carolus Mortdecai Van Cleef[30] also at least implies that Lord Windermere was one of the titled customers of John Jorrocks MFH, tea-grocer of Great Coram Street, of whom his friend R.S. Surtees has written.[31]

  Although there are no more Lords hereditary of Windermere nowadays, the title almost lives on. In 2001, the former Member of Parliament David Clark was created Baron Clark of Windermere, of Windermere in the County of Cumbria, and currently sits in the House of Lords as a life peer on the Labour benches.[32]





  Sir Roderick Glossop, the eminent loony-doctor and for many years one of several banes of Bertie Wooster’s life, was probably born in the late 1860s, and attended Eton College.[33] In adult life he married firstly the elder of the Blatherwick sisters[34] and by her had a daughter, the muscular Girton-educated Honoria Jane Louise, and a son, Oswald.[35] Following Lady Glossop’s death, Sir Roderick married Myrtle, the Dowager Lady Chuffnell.[36]

  Sir Roderick possessed a brother, who is known to have been an absent-minded professor-type. Despite devising the formula for a popular brand of headache pills, he left no substantial fortune to his son Hildebrand as the nature of his contract gave all the rights in his concoction to his employer, Runkle’s Enterprises.

  Hildebrand, known to friends as ‘Tuppy’, went in for practical jokes, his most celebrated being to challenge fellow-members of the Drones Club to swing from ring to ring across the club swimming-pool whilst fully-dressed: Tuppy would in the meantime loop back the final ring so the unfortunate competitor had no choice but to allow himself to fall into the water. Bertie Wooster has recorded[37] that Sir Arthur ‘Pongo’ Jermyn escaped being one of Tuppy’s victims in this manner as his anthropoid appearance allowed him to stretch further than most (however, Jermyn’s death in 1913[38] seems to have occurred too early for him to have been a contemporary of Bertie and Tuppy, the former’s claim to be in a position to reveal the true reasons for Sir Arthur’s death notwithstanding: this probably points to the swimming-pool trick not being original with Sir Roderick’s nephew). A number of Jeeves-and-Wooster novels revolve, at least in part, around Tuppy Glossop’s on-off engagement to Bertie Wooster’s paternal cousin Angela, and at the close of Much Obliged, Jeeves their marriage was imminent, after L. P. Runkle was ‘persuaded’ to make enough money over to Tuppy for him to marry on, in token of his father’s work.

  During the 1970s there was a Miss H. Glossop working on the Jersey Evening Post. In 1974 she was given an exclusive by the perpetrators of a Black Mass held at the ancient monument La Hogue Bie, the purpose of which was to discourage a rapist whose modus operandi suggested a connection with Satanism. Amongst those involved was the Hon. Charlie Strafford van Cleef Mortdecai[39] (subsequently the third Baron Mortdecai), coincidentally a great-grandson of that Carolus Mortdecai van Cleef mentioned earlier[40], and a probable descendent of Sir Percy Blakeney as well.[41]

  Some years later a Mrs. Honoria Glossop, having studied religion and mythology at university, was appointed Professor of Comparative Religions at William Morris University in East London. I believe these two H. Glossops are identifiable, and that her parents were Tuppy and Angela.

  It was on a cruise that the Professor had encountered the dashingly-handsome Richard ‘Ricky’ Glossop. Ricky must be the son of Oswald Glossop, and thus Honoria’s cousin (it is probable that their meeting was a re-encounter rather than the first time they had come across each other). Honoria and Ricky, who was a few years her junior, fell in love and were married. They lived happily together for ten years, despite the sad fact that Honoria was unable to bear children. Significantly, their lifestyle was supported by a substantial amount of money inherited by Honoria from a family business.[42] The marriage came to a tragic end when she was murdered. An account of the trial of her supposed killer and of the discovery of the true culprit, has been published by the accused’s defence counsel, Horace Rumpole.[43]





  Of whom Jaggard writes in Wooster’s World:


‘Father of Roberta’ might be held more than enough for any man’s epitaph, yet with Roberta in mind we should like to know more about the deceased Bart. The brio and empressement of the Mulliners is not evident in her mother. Was it then from Cuthbert that Bobbie acquired those talents which can even bring a shudder into the voice of Jeeves?


 This seems most likely, though the novelist Lady Wickham, relict of the late Sir Cuthbert, is several times claimed by the celebrated teller of tall tales Mr. Mulliner[44] as a cousin rather than as a relative-by-marriage. Her chief talent is that she has any level of control over that manipulative, fun-loving, chaos-bringing, red-headed atomic bomb known and feared by right-minded Woosters everywhere as Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Wickham.

  The blood of the Mulliners aside, undoubtedly part of Bobbie’s personality has come down to her from her father, since he was a direct male-line descendent of George Wickham and his wife the former Lydia Bennett, who are described in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Bobbie’s red hair also may point to a connection with the Rassendylls.[45]

  In his article, Those Gallant War-Horses: the Steeds, Brad Mengel posits that Lydia might have been present to see the meteorite strike at Wold Newton in 1795. At first I thought this was doubtful, considering the list of witnesses provided by Philip José Farmer in Tarzan Alive. A Duke and a brace of baronets and other respectable individuals—although Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen admits that Lydia’s sister Elizabeth and brother-in-law Fitzwilliam Darcy would tolerate her company at intervals, I cannot see that he at least would be prepared to bring her into such company. Then I began to reconsider. Baronets are, after all, typically ‘bad’ as a class, and the public face of Sir Percy Blakeney was foppish and frivolous, and his wife (although of respectable background, and possessing impeccable relatives[46]) an actress, a term that did not shake off its older meaning of ‘prostitute’ till the twentieth century (and which, indeed, has fallen out of favour once more).

  I think that if Lydia was at Wold Newton, then she must have been a natural choice of guest for Sir Percy, rather than for her own relatives. It strikes me that the lively, spendthrift semi scandal-ridden characters of both George and Lydia Wickham would perhaps have appealed to the outer personality of Sir Percy Blakeney, and her relatives cannot have objected too strongly to her joining the party: however much of a snob Darcy was, I am frankly convinced that there would have been all that much tone for her to lower. After all, if Brad Mengel finds a hint of that Wold Newton greatness in Lydia’s descendent the great John Steed, might we also find a gallon of those hypernormal qualities sloshing around to no good end inside Bobbie Wickham?

  I mean, where else could it all have come from?





  Although the immediate family of Bertram Wilberforce Mannering Phipps Wooster[47] was untitled, they were a cadet branch of the family of the Earls of Yaxley. Bertie’s uncle George, however, acquired a baronetcy, and subsequently (following the deaths of some intervening relatives[48]) inherited the Earldom as well (Geoffrey Jaggard notes that there is also a baronetcy combined with the Earldom of Kimberley; P.G. Wodehouse was a member of a cadet line of this family).

  The question arises, however, as to the identity of the heir to the title of Earl of Yaxley, and it is Geoffrey Jaggard’s opinion that it is Bertie who is next in line to inherit. According to Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Bertie does indeed become the new Lord Yaxley and settles down (with Bobbie Wickham of all people!) at Wooster Castle. Jeeves, in Parkinson’s view, becomes a mere pub landlord.[49]

  Jaggard, however, has greater things in sight for Bertie and Jeeves, and there can be little doubt that his plans have come to fruition in that other realm which I understand J. Adrian Fillmore visited in The Incredible Umbrella by Marvin Kaye:


Everything points to Bertram Wilberforce Wooster as the senior nephew. If so, the long-term effects on the destinies of Britain and indeed of the world at large are quite incalculable. For Jeeves will surely persuade the young master that it is his duty to take his seat in the Upper House. And the latent potentialities of a House of Lords ruled and directed in all its policies by an Eminence Grise such as the master-mind of Jeeves are as immeasurable—and a great deal farther reaching—than in a previous period when both political parties were dominated by the Fairy Queen.[50]


‘It beats me why a man of his genius is satisfied to hang around pressing my clothes and whatnot,’ says Bertie. ‘If I had half Jeeves’s brain, I should have a stab at being Prime Minister or something.’

And the ‘something’ could conjecturally be anything. It is virtually certain that had Jeeves been valet at No. 10 Downing Street before the First World War, neither the first nor the second war would have occurred.[51]


Again, in Blandings the Blest and assuming, once more, that Bertie succeeds to the earldom:


The consequences of such an event would be quite incalculable. We have already touched [....] on the suppositional results had Bertie’s manservant elected to take his talents to No. 10 Downing St. It is unthinkable that, if Bertie became eligible for a seat in the Upper House, Jeeves would fail to persuade him to take it. Britain’s re-emergence as the Number One ruling power would follow as the dawn follows the night. We have seen, in the light opera Iolanthe, a somewhat playful interpretation of the consequences for the country were a Fairy Queen to take up residence at Westminster. But a Fairy Queen’s puissance, though limitless, tends to be directed to other than worldly issues. Not so those of a Jeeves. The vicarious takeover of Britain’s domestic and international economy by such an éminince grise would, without doubt, precipitate the coming of the millennium.[52]

[1]  Well, otherwise complete. Or largely so, at any rate. And bearing in mind that Wodehouse was still producing new material at the time.


[2]  C.f. Jaggard’s discussion of correct pronunciation under the entry “Wooster, Bertram Wilberforce” in Wooster’s World.


[3]  Some of these definitions have been paraphrased from The Chambers Dictionary.


[4]  Farmer, Philip José, Tarzan Alive.


[5]  In fact, episodes in Jeeves: A Gentleman’s Personal Gentleman by C. Northcote-Parkinson, a biography of Bertie Wooster’s unparalled valet Reginald Jeeves, explicitly link the worlds of Wooster and Wimsey. In one sequence early in Jeeves’s career as a valet, his then employer is kidnapped while staying in a hotel in Italy. Lord Peter is asked by the victim’s family to investigate, and recommends paying the ransom. Poirot is retained by an insurance company and advises not paying the ransom. Father Brown looks into the matter at the request of the hotelier, and on hearing his opinion Jeeves is able to bring the case to a conclusion. Subsequently, Jeeves receives advice on valeting from Lord Peter’s manservant Bunter, who is revealed to be a member of the Junior Ganymede Club, the private club for valets described in several of the Bertie Wooster stories. It is only when he acts on Bunter’s advice that Jeeves seeks employment with Bertie Wooster.

  This is a problematic matter in terms of strict chronology, as Lord Peter’s career as a detective began subsequent to World War One, during which conflict the embryonic Jeeves-and-Wooster story “Extricating Young Gussie” was published. In fact, Northcote-Parkinson’s biography is generally pretty iffy. Many of the anecdotes recounted are admittedly true, but they are presented in a distorted manner or in the wrong order. My research into the life and career of Hercule Poirot suggests that the encounter between Jeeves and the three detectives probably has some basis in actual events, and although I am not entirely clear on what exactly transpired, I believe that the kidnapping took place during 1931, in a period when Jeeves had temporarily or permanently left Bertie’s employment.


[6]  The significantly-subtitled The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose: From William Caxton to P.G. Wodehouse, A Conducted Tour by Frank Muir was published in 1990 and covers exactly five hundred years (earliest contribution was published by Caxton in 1477; Wodehouse died in 1977) of English literature.


[7]  The novel concludes with a fictitious world war, which I believe has perhaps been spun out of the tiny 1920s conflict fought in the Balkans and spoofed in the film Duck Soup. See Dennis Power’s article Wold-Gazetteer for a discussion of the political machinations that were the basis for this Marx Brothers movie.


[8]  I was able to ascertain the precise year with reference to Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall, and also Waugh’s World (despite not agreeing with the author Iain Gale’s dating system).


[9]  The country, but not its king, had also been mentioned by Wodehouse in “The Long Arm of Looney Coote” in which it is reported that a schoolfellow of Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge had been honoured for his work constructing the new waterworks at Strelsau, the capital of Ruritania (see the volume Ukridge).


[10] Graustark, like Ruritania, is a small monarchy lying in the Carpathians. It features in novels by George Barr McCutcheon.


[11]   “All’s Well with Bingo” may be found in the volume Eggs, Beans and Crumpets; “The Rise of Mina Nordstrom” is a tale of the Mulliners of Hollywood, to be found in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.


[12] These events almost certainly took place in 1888, as in Tarzan Alive Philip José Farmer notes that Rudolf Rassendyll, ‘soon to make a fateful voyage’, attended the wedding of his cousin Lord Staveley to the Honourable Alice Rutherford earlier that year. This union produced, of course, Tarzan of the Apes. I assume that the word ‘cousin’ is to be taken literally, and that the mothers of Rudolf and Lord Staveley were sisters.

  However, Mr. Farmer was mistaken in asserting in the same book that The Prisoner of Zenda was based on an insurgency that took place in Carinthia.


[13] von Tarlenheim, Fritz, Rupert of Hentzau, ed. Anthony Hope.


[14] See After Zenda by King Karel I of Ruritania, ed. John Spurling. Careful readers will spot a subtle nod to the ex-monarch.


[15] There is a reference to Sherlock Holmes’s involvement in “the intrigue surrounding the Ruritanian Abdication Crisis” in the short story The Adventure of the Lost World, supposedly written by Dr. John H. Watson but actually an inaccurate pastiche penned by Dominic Green.


[16] Haythorne, John, The Strelsau Dimension.


[17] See After Zenda.


[18] Ibid.


[19] Ibid. This did not stop Cunard naming a liner after the country—see The Adventure of the Illustrious Client by John H. Watson, ed. Arthur Conan Doyle.

[20] See The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau. That Holmes was one of Lord Topham’s guests has been mentioned in some accounts of the detective’s cases that were later hacked to bits and reassembled by Nicholas Meyer as his novel, The Seven-Percent Solution.


[21] Speculation. The Strelsau Dimension discusses the poor turn-of-the-century relationship between the two monarchies. In Tenterhooks by Ada Leverson, the Minister to Great Britain of a nation-whose-name-sounds-like-‘Ruritania’ lives at Grosvenor Square.


[22] Sodor is a large island lying between the Isle of Man and Great Britain. Like many of the more outlying areas of the British Isles that fall under the Crown, such as the Channel Islands, Sodor’s neighbour the Isle of Man, and the distant archipelago of Qwghlm, it has its own history and maintains a steadfast independence (although formally, Sodor is considered part of the United Kingdom). See here for a potted history.

  The North Western Railway, has had much good publicity from children’s books. The Railway Series, penned by the Rev. W. Awdry and his son Christopher Awdry, are based around the delightful conceit that railway engines are alive and possess their own personalities. The Reverend Awdry, who like many clerics had a great love of trains (something perhaps more familiar to the reader in the character of Reverend Timothy Lovejoy in The Simpsons), was also—together with his brother George, librarian of the National Liberal Club—a noted student of the island’s history.


[23] Sibley, Brian, The Thomas the Tank Engine Man: The Story of the Reverend W. Awdry and his Really Useful Engines.


[24] See the entry at Wikipedia in reference to The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways by Rev. W. Awdry and George Awdry, Sodor: Reading Between the Lines by Christopher Awdry.


[25] ‘Lord Topper’ features in “Nob and Nobility”, an episode of the BBCtv series Blackadder the III, written by Richard Curtis and by Ben Elton (whom, it must be noted, is the nephew of a very eminent historian). Sir Percy Blakeney’s presence as an eye-witness to the Wold Newton meteorite strike is revealed by Philip José Farmer in Tarzan Alive. Jean-Marc Lofficier suggests a sinister element to Blakeney’s presence at Wold Newton in his article Will There Be Light Tomorrow? The History of the Greatest Conspiracy Man Has Ever Known. Part I: The Conspiracy.


[26] Although there is evidence that physical hideousness as an acquired trait can, against all scientific reason, be inherited.

  A good account of the life of Bladud, the mythical founder of the City of Bath, may be found in Lord Emsworth’s Annotated Whiffle, being James Hogg’s edition of Lord Emsworth’s personal copy of The Care of the Pig by Augustus Whiffle. Bladud was of royal parentage but on becoming infected with a leprous disease, was expelled from his home in order to work as a pig-herd. On discovering that his charges not only enjoyed wallowing in hot springs but that on emerging their rough and scabby skins were now pink and smooth, he himself submitted to the pools and was cured of his condition. He returned to his family and founded the first spa, and in time became a good and learned and noble king.

  There seems little doubt in my mind that Bladud, prior to his taking the cure, fathered the first Baldrick, which name is clearly a latter-day corruption of ‘Bladud’. We cannot believe the official versions of the family’s origin: according to Blackadder—The Whole Damn Dynasty 1485-1917 by Richard Curtis, Ben Elton, Rowan Atkinson and John Lloyd, the first Baldrick was a proto-human called Homo Non-Erectus which for two obvious reasons barely survived to reproduce. This would appear to be a joke, and not particularly amusing at that, and is in any case a recycling of a denial in “The Blackadder Chronicles” (see John Lloyd’s article “Blackadder—The Untold Story” in the issue of the Radio Times for the week of 26 September to 2 October 1987) that Homo Non-Erectus was the progenitor of the Blackadders.

  Baldrick son of Robin the Dung Gatherer (possibly a tanner’s assistant) from the original BBCtv series The Black Adder was depicted as quite intelligent, although his contemporary Bernard Baldrick (see The Whole Damn Dynasty) with whom he is probably identifiable (see my intended article The Life and Times (Probably) of The King’s Own Right-Beloved Brother, Prince Edmund Plantagenet, Duke of Edinburgh), was as thick as anything, just like all Baldricks since.


[27]  According to Wodehouse at Work to the End by Richard Osborne, Wodehouse rewrote the UK-based Spring Fever as a play that ultimately was not produced. The play was such a heavy re-write, he was then able to turn into a brand new novel, The Old Reliable, set in the United States of America.

  Having read both novels, I can understand why Osborne thought that The Old Reliable derives from Spring Fever. Both have characters on the search of a McGuffin that will bring them a huge fortune (in The Old Reliable it is the diary of a Hollywood starlet; in Spring Fever, it is the Earl of Shortlands’s stamp album). Both feature an unscrupulous butler. Both feature a lady named Adela who has a tight grip on the purse-strings (in The Old Reliable, Adela Cork will not allow her brother-in-law Smedley much money; in Spring Fever, the Earl of Shortlands lives on a tiny allowance dolled out to him by his daughter, Lady Adela Topping). However, the similarities are mostly cosmetic: it is probable that The Old Reliable was merely ‘flavoured’ with elements of Spring Fever.


[28] The Dictionary of National Biography. The entry for Edward Topham also gives some of the specifics of the Wold Newton meteorite.


[29]  As part of his communications with Dennis Power, described here.


[30]  The first volume of which was published under the title of All the Tea in China, ed. Kyril Bonfiglioli.


[31]  See his books commencing with Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities, this first volume being Surtees’s 1838 collection of material originally presented in New Sporting Magazine (which itself commenced publication in 1831).


[32]  See entry at Wikipedia here.


[33]  In Uncle Fred in the Springtime, Lord Emsworth recalls having known Sir Roderick at Eton. In the first Blandings novel, Something Fresh (published 1915) Lord Emsworth was described as having been at Eton in the 1860s but Wodehouse backtracked on this in a later introduction to that book. The second Blandings novel Leave it to Psmith (published 1923) puts Lord Emsworth in his fifties. He appears to pass his sixtieth birthday between Summer Lightning (1929) and Heavy Weather (1933), both of which take place during a single August.


[34] Wodehouse, P.G., Carry on Jeeves.


[35] Wodehouse, P.G., The Inimitable Jeeves.


[36] Following the events of Wodehouse’s Thank You, Jeeves.


[37] In “The Rummy Affair of Young Charlie”, ed. P.H. Cannon, in the volume Scream for Jeeves.


[38] Lovecraft, H.P., “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family.”


[39] Bonfiglioli, Kyril, Something Nasty in the Woodshed (although Charlie is narrator, it may be demonstrated that his friend Bon was the actual author). Like Waugh’s Decline and Fall, part of this book (and most of the follow-up, The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery) is set at Scone College, Oxford (identifiable with Balliol).


[40] A partial family tree is described in Mortdecai ABC: A Kyril Bonfiglioli Reader, edited by Margaret Bonfiglioli. It also reveals that Charlie’s mother was the daughter of a duke; considering Charlie’s reaction in The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery to what he thinks is the prospect of meeting the present Duke of Marlborough, it seems likely that they are first cousins.


[41] During the course of Don’t Point That Thing At Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli, Charlie imagines himself as though he were ‘Captain Hugh Drummond-Mortdecai’ and ‘Sir Percy Blakeney-Mortdecai’; in Tarzan Alive, Philip José Farmer stated that Bulldog Drummond was a descendent of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Material related to Charlie’s accession to the barony is printed in Mortdecai ABC.


[42] In “The Ex’s Are Nearly Married Off”, a loose adaptation by Clive Exton of Much Obliged, Jeeves for the ITV television series Jeeves and Wooster, Tuppy sinks his father’s money into ‘Plumbo-Jumbo’, a device that cleans drains and treats them so that they cannot get blocked up again in future. On screen, at least, it is a total disaster.


[43] Rumpole, Horace, Rumpole and the Christmas Killer, ed. John Mortimer. Serialised in the Daily Mail, 24, 25 and 27 December 2002. A judge named Leslie Mulliner is also mentioned.


[44] E.g. “Mr Potter Takes a Rest Cure” in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

  Incidentally, amongst Mr Mulliner’s legion of nephews may be found the detective Adrian Mulliner, who proves in Wodehouse’s From a Detective’s Notebook that Professor Moriarty never existed and was invented by Sherlock Holmes to cover up the latter’s own criminal works.


[45] In The Prisoner of Zenda, it is noted that once in a generation or so, the Rassendyll family produces a child with a long nose, red hair and blue eyes.


[46] One of her uncles was the father of Dr. Thomas Raffles, a nonconformist preacher of phenomenal popularity; another uncle was the father of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. Yet even here we find hints of, if not scandal then certainly of irregularity: Sir Thomas is notorious for having been christened twice, against all the rules of the church, the second time around gaining a tertiary forename, ‘Bingley’.

  For that matter, it has never been satisfactorily explained why Alice’s sister is always referred to by Farmer as ‘Violet Clarke’, when Clarke was their mother’s maiden name only.


[47] Bertie’s first appearance in Wodehouse’s stories was in “Extricating Young Gussie”, in which he is identified as ‘Bertie Mannering-Phipps’. Jaggard explains in Wooster’s World that various inter-marriages had produced a somewhat-overblown surname, Mannering-Phipps-Wooster, but in the more modest days of the twentieth centuries the family, like many other ancient lines, stripped back to ‘their oldest patronymic, which is Wooster’.


[48] Such as (we imagine) the Hon. Algernon Wooster, mentioned briefly as a guest at Blandings in Something Fresh.


[49] The public house in question is The Angler’s Rest, local of Mr Mulliner.


[50] Jaggard, Geoffrey, Wooster’s World.


[51] Ibid.


[52] This probably is not the time to mention it, but I will anyway, that Peter Cannon notes in his article “The Adventure of the Three Anglo-American Authors” (printed in Scream for Jeeves) that Manly Wade Wellman, in the Baker Street Journal, ‘once argued that Jeeves is the offspring of Sherlock Holmes and his landlady Mrs. Hudson.’ Such a relationship is reported to be depicted in Sherlock Holmes’s War of the Worlds by Edward D. Malone and John H. Watson, ed. Manly Wade Wellman and Wade Wellman, and Dennis Power has argued in his article The Kissable Mrs. Hudson that Irene Adler had actually been posing temporarily as Holmes’s landlady.

  This strikes me as a more credible relationship, although I am doubtful that it resulted in the birth of Jeeves. Yet, watching repeats of Star Trek recently, it occurs to me that if we have learned anything from Star Trek: Enterprise it is that the calm, measured, reflective, understated tones of Mr. Spock are not typical of Vulcans in general—but they do bear a resemblance to those of Jeeves, whose speech Jaggard describes in Wooster’s World as ‘Augustan English, the English of Gibbon and of The Times first leader’. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock appears to cite Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor. The evidence is shaky—he could as easily be referring to Arthur Conan Doyle, and an argument could even be made for Watson—and when one considers the length of time between the eras of Holmes and Spock there is no reason to suppose that Spock has any concrete evidence to back up such a claim if he were to formally state it (in Strangers from the Sky by Margaret Wander Bonanno, the Grayson family tree only goes back as far as an ancestor who died in 2045). It might just be a reference to a family legend. What if intervening generations of Jeeveses passed down Manly Wade Wellman’s theory to Amanda Grayson and she passed it down to her son?

  I’m not convinced, myself. If Spock is a descendent of Holmes, it is likely to be through the Great Detective’s grandson Spencer Holmes, who appears in the novel San Francisco Kills by Denny Martin Flinn, if only because Mr. Flinn co-wrote the script for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.





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