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Encyclopedia > Peter Wimsey

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey is a fictional character in a series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers. He is the main character in those works, in which he solves mysteries — usually murder mysteries. The tales all take place in a setting contemporary to when they were written, from the 1920s to the 1940s.

, whose appearance Dorothy L. Sayers used for Lord Peter Wimsey
Roy Ridley, whose appearance Dorothy L. Sayers used for Lord Peter Wimsey

Lord Peter's fictional life starts in 1890. His elder brother Gerald holds the (fictional) title Duke of Denver; their sister Lady Mary marries Peter's friend, police detective Charles Parker, several years after they meet when her fiancÚ dies violently in Clouds of Witness. Lord Peter was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford, where he received a "double first" in history. He served in World War I and got a bad case of shell shock, which causes him occasional problems throughout the books. He has a manservant, Mervyn Bunter, whom he met when he served with him in the war. Bunter is a man of as many talents as Lord Peter: Photography is one of them. When Bunter finally finds a wife, in Thrones, Dominations, she is a professional photographer; their son Peter Meredith Bunter is born in December 1937. During World War II Lord Peter serves in military intelligence, and his nephew the Viscount St. George is a fighter pilot.

In Strong Poison Lord Peter meets Harriet Deborah Vane and falls in love with her. Harriet is a mystery writer on trial for the murder of her ex-lover. She finally accepts his proposal in Gaudy Night, and they marry, on October 8, 1935, in Busman's Honeymoon and then find a murder victim in Talboys, a home she had loved from childhood, often passing it when out with her doctor father on his rounds, and which Lord Peter has bought as a wedding present for her, to be their country house. They have three children: Bredon Delgardie Peter Wimsey (born in October 1936 in the story "The Haunted Policeman" and featured in the 1942 story "Talboys"); Roger Wimsey (born 1938), and Paul Wimsey (born 1940). Note that in A Presumption of Death the second son is called Paul, because in the wartime publications of The Wimsey Papers Dorothy L. Sayers called him that.

Among Lord Peter's hobbies, apart from criminology, is collecting incunabula, and he is an expert on matters of food (especially wine) and male fashion, as well as on classical music. He is quite good at playing Bach's works for keyboard instruments on a piano he babies even more than his books, wines, and cars. One of Lord Peter's cars is a 12-cylinder ("double-six"), 4-seated 1927 Daimler named "Mrs. Merdle" after a character in Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.




with year of first publication

Short story collections

Stage, movies & television

The novel Busman's Honeymoon was originally a stage play by Sayers and her friend Muriel St. Clare Byrne.

Some of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels were made into two very successful television series by the BBC. Lord Peter Wimsey is played by Ian Carmichael during the seventies series of five novels and by Edward Petherbridge in the later series of three, in which Harriet Vane is played by Harriet Walter. Both series are now available on videotape and DVD.

There was a 1935 British movie of The Silent Passenger in which Lord Peter solved a mystery on the boat train crossing the English Channel, but the film does not seem to be available on videotape, at least in the United States. Sayers disliked the film; James Brabazon describes it as an "oddity, in which Dorothy's contribution was altered out of all recognition."

The 1940 movie The Haunted Honeymoon (American) or Busman's Honeymoon (British), starring Robert Montgomery and Constance Cummings as Lord and Lady Peter, is available on videotape in generic boxes on the secondary market; any resemblance of its characters and events to those in Busman's Honeymoon is more than coincidental but less than satisfactory to Sayers's fans. (In the film Murder Must Advertise, a movie poster of Robert Montgomery is prominently visible on the wall in the secretaries' office.) Sayers refused even to see this movie.

Books about Lord Peter by other authors

As a footnote, Lord Peter Wimsey has also been included by the science fiction writer Philip JosÚ Farmer as a member of the Wold Newton family; and Laurie R. King's detective character Mary Russell meets Lord Peter at a party in the novel A Letter of Mary.

External links

  • Lord Peter Wimsey chronology (http://www.leftfield.org/~rawdon/books/mystery/sayers.html)
  • Classic Crime Fiction  (http://www.classiccrimefiction.com/) illustrated bibliography and articles about Dorothy L Sayers

  Results from FactBites:
Lord Peter Wimsey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1615 words)
Wimsey is described as a man in early middle age, of at best average height with straw-colored hair and a vaguely foolish face (reputedly his looks were patterned after academic Roy Ridley), though he also possessed considerable athletic ability, especially at cricket.
The Wimseys go off on honeymoon to Talboys, a house in east Hertfordshire near to where the young Harriet's father was a country doctor, and which she has loved from childhood, and which Peter has bought for her as a wedding present.
Lord Peter Wimsey was played by Ian Carmichael during the 1970s, in a series that ran from 1972 to 1975 and adapted five novels, and by Edward Petherbridge in the later series, which dramatized the three major Wimsey/Vane novels, and in which Harriet was played by Harriet Walter.
Dorothy L. Sayers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2195 words)
Dorothy L. Sayers is perhaps best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries-a series of novels and short stories featuring an English aristocrat who solves numerous mysteries as an amateur sleuth.
Wimsey is rich, well-educated, charming, and brave, as well as an accomplished musician, an exceptional athlete, and a notable lover.
Lord Peter Wimsey makes a cameo appearance in Laurie R. King's A Letter of Mary, one of a series of books relating the further adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and his equally talented partner and spouse, Mary Russell.
  More results at FactBites »



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