Review: The Diary of a Nobody by G. and W. Grossmith

The Diary of a Nobody is an English comic novel written by two brothers called George and Weedon Grossmith. The novel was first published as a serial in Punch Magazine from 1888-9. Illustrations were provided by Weedon Grossmith. It was published as a book in 1892.

The novel records the daily life of a London clerk Charles Pooter, his wife Carrie, and their son Lupin over a period of 15 months. A plot summary is not really necessary as not much happens in the life of this Victorian middle class man. His son loses a job and gets into scrapes, engagements are made and broken. Charles Pooter and his wife have friends to dinner and visit friends themselves – though are not ‘in society’ much.


It is a lovely, gentle and funny work. Short and easy to read, to pick up and put down again. You are definitely laughing at, rather than with, the characters – especially poor Mr Pooter. Unless you enjoy awful punny jokes, of which he makes many. For example,

He said he wouldn’t stay, as he didn’t care much for the smell of the paint, and fell over the scraper as he went out. Must get the scraper removed, or else I shall get into a scrape. I don’t often make jokes.

He will then say adorable things such as,

I never was so immensely tickled by anything I had ever said before. I actually woke up twice during the night, and laughed till the bed shook


Mr Pooter realises that painting his bath red may not have been a good idea!

Though it seems nothing new nowadays, the book is a classic work of comic fiction and helped to establish a genre of humorous fiction based on lower-middle class aspirations. It can be seen to be an influence/inspiration for works such as, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady by Antia Loo, Bridget Jones’s Diary (originally a serial in the Independent) by Helen Fielding, and the Adrian Mole diaries by Sue Townsend.

I would recommend this book if you enjoy that kind of comic writing. It isn’t ground-breaking and won’t change your life but it is a fun, light-hearted read


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