‘It’s the diary that makes the man’*

Image: (Wikipedia)The first York railway station was a temporary wooden building on Queen Street outside the walls of the city, opened in 1839 by the York and North Midland Railway. It was succeeded in 1841, inside the walls, by what is now York old railway station. In due course, the irksome requirement that through trains between London and Newcastle needed to reverse out of the old York station to continue their journey necessitated the construction of a new through station outside the walls.

York railway station, designed by the North Eastern Railway architects Thomas Prosser and William Peachey, opened on 25 June 1877. It had 13 platforms and was at that time the largest in the world.”

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

September 19th 1875

Arrived at York to find the 1a.m. train did not run until 2.30 a.m. So had to wait. Obliging guard number one let my bag fall, breaking a pint of champagne provided to make me sleep and spoiling my bag. Obliging guard number two secured me the only empty compartment and then held it pompously open so another traveller bounced in and was not to be dislodged. It was decidedly not my evening.”

*From: The Diary of a Nobody (1892), by George and Weedon Grossmith:

“..Never in my life have I ever been so insulted; the cabman, who was a rough bully and to my thinking not sober, called me every name he could lay his tongue to, and positively seized me by the beard, which he pulled till the tears came into my eyes.  I took the number of a policeman (who witnessed the assault) for not taking the man in charge.  The policeman said he couldn’t interfere, that he had seen no assault, and that people should not ride in cabs without money.”

From Wikipedia:

The Diary of a Nobody is an English comic novel written by the brothers George and Weedon Grossmith, with illustrations by the latter. It originated as an intermittent serial in Punch magazine in 1888–89 and first appeared in book form, with extended text and added illustrations, in 1892. The Diary records the daily events in the lives of a London clerk, Charles Pooter, his wife Carrie, his son William Lupin, and numerous friends and acquaintances over a period of 15 months.

By 1910 the Diary was beginning to achieve a reputation in London’s literary and political circles. In his essay “On People in Books”, published earlier that year, the writer and humourist Hilaire Belloc hailed the Diary as “one of the half-dozen immortal achievements of our time … a glory for us all”. Among others who recorded their appreciation of the work were Lord Rosebery, the former prime minister, who told Arrowsmiths that he thought he had “purchased and given away more copies than any living man … I regard any bedroom I occupy as unfurnished without a copy of it”. Another essayist-cum-politician who added his tribute was Augustine Birrell, who in 1910 occupied the cabinet post of Chief Secretary for Ireland. Birrell wrote that he ranked Charles Pooter alongside Don Quixote as a comic literary figure, and added a note of personal pride that one of the characters in the book…carried his name. Arrowsmiths printed these appreciations as prefaces in the 1910 and subsequent issues. The 1910 edition proved immediately popular with the reading public, and was followed by numerous reprintings. In its review of this edition The Bookman‘s critic wrote of Charles Pooter: “You laugh at him—at his small absurdities, his droll mishaps, his well-meaning fussiness; but he wins upon you and obtains your affection, and even your admiration, he is so transparently honest, so delightfully and ridiculously human”.

The BBC screened two…adaptations: in 1979 a version dramatised by Basil Boothroyd, and in 2007 a four-part dramatisation by Andrew Davies, directed by Susanna White and first shown on BBC Four as part of the channel’s Edwardian season. The Guardian‘s critic wrote of the latter that Hugh Bonneville was “immaculate as the ignored kerfuffler [Pooter].”…”

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