The Diary of a Nobody
  • Publication Date: November 20, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551117041 / 1551117045
  • 260 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Diary of a Nobody

  • Publication Date: November 20, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551117041 / 1551117045
  • 260 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The Diary of a Nobody, the spoof diary of Charles Pooter, a London clerk, first appeared as a book in 1892 and has never been out of print since. The hilariously trivial doings of the accident-prone Pooter, his wife Carrie and their troublesome son Lupin have inspired many writers since, including the authors of Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. The satirical novelist Evelyn Waugh called it “the funniest book in the world.” This enduring classic of Victorian social comedy is now available in a newly edited Broadview edition.

This edition includes a critical introduction, comprehensive notes on the many historical allusions in the text, and a wide selection of relevant contemporary materials on the clerk’s life, suburbia, spiritualism, and domestic economy. A selection of Weedon Grossmith’s original illustrations also accompanies the novel.


“Although The Diary of a Nobody has never been out of print for over the last hundred years, it has, until now, failed to attract an edition capable of really illuminating its lost social and literary contexts. Peter Morton’s Broadview edition remedies this lack with its excellent introduction, incisive textual annotation, and its comprehensive selection of extracts from background material. This extensive scholarly apparatus, rather than overwhelming the Diary’s comedy, succeeds in breathing new life into an established classic of its genre.” — Jonathan Wild, University Edinburgh

“Finally the Grossmith’s The Diary of a Nobody has an edition worth of its importance. Peter Morton’s introduction, like the secondary materials he has wisely chosen, pays attention to the aesthetic and cultural aspects of readers to see that the Diary for all its notoriety was not a singular phenomenon, but rather part of a flourishing of interest in the lives of clerks and other lower-middle-class figures. This is another fine Broadview edition that will find its home on the bookshelves of scholars, students, and readers of nineteenth-century literature.” — Scott Banville, University of Nevada Reno



George and Weedon Grossmith: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

The Diary of a Nobody

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews

  1. From Baron de B.W. & Co., “Our Booking Office,” Punch, 103 (23 June 1892)
  2. From The Saturday Review, 74 (23 June 1892)
  3. From The Athenaeum (13 August 1892)
  4. From The Literary World, 46 (29 July 1892)
  5. From The Speaker, 6 (6 August 1892)
  6. From The New York Times (19 December 1892)
  7. Publisher’s Note to the “new edition” of 1910 (10 October 1910)
  8. From The Bookman [London], 39 (December 1910)
  9. From The Bookman [London], 57 (December 1919)
  10. From Xanthias, Queen’s Quarterly, 27 (1920)

Appendix B: The Clerk’s Lot in Life

  1. From Charles Edward Parsons, Clerks; Their Position and Advancement (1876)
  2. From The Clerk:A Sketch in Outline of His Duties and Discipline (1878)
  3. From Francis Davenant, Starting in Life: Hints for Parents on the Choice of a Profession or Trade for Their
  4. From The Story of a London Clerk: A Faithful Narrative Faithfully Told (1896)
  5. From Charles Booth, ed., Life and Labour of the People in London (1896)
  6. From Robert White, “Wanted:A Rowton House for Clerks,” Nineteenth Century, 42 (October 1897)
  7. From Shan Bullock, Robert Thorne: The Story of a London Clerk (1907)

Appendix C: Domestic Economy at The Laurels

  1. From G.S. Layard, “A Lower Middle-Class Budget,” Cornhill Magazine, 10 (Jan–June 1901)

Appendix D: Suburban Fictions in the Wake of the Diary

  1. From R. Andom, Martha and I: Being Scenes from Our Suburban Life (1898)
  2. From W. Pett Ridge, Outside the Radius: Stories of a London Suburb (1899)
  3. From Barry Pain, Eliza (1900)
  4. From Keble Howard, The Smiths of Surbiton: A Comedy without a Plot (1906)

Appendix E: Séances in the Suburbs

  1. From Morell Theobald, Spirit Workers in the Home Circle (1887)
  2. From Florence Marryat, There Is No Death (1891)
  3. From Barry Pain, Eliza Getting On (1911)

Appendix F: Suburban Life and its Critics

  1. From Geoffrey Mortimer, The Blight of Respectability (1897)
  2. From H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)
  3. From T.W.H. Crosland, The Suburbans (1905)
  4. From C.F.G. Masterman, In Peril of Change: Essays Written in Time of Tranquillity (1905)
  5. From C.F.G. Masterman, The Condition of England (1909)

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Peter Morton is Associate Professor of English at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.