As a boy, the young Peter Wimsey was, to the great distress of his father, strongly attached to an old, smelly poacher living at the edge of the family estate. In his youth Lord Peter was influenced by his maternal uncle Paul Delagardie, who took it upon himself to instruct his nephew in the facts of life: how to conduct various love affairs and treat his lovers.
Lord Peter was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford , graduating with a first -class degree in history. He was also an outstanding cricketer, whose performance was still well remembered decades later. Though not taking up an academic career, he was left with an enduring and deep love for Oxford. To his uncle's disappointment, Peter fell deeply in love with a young woman named Barbara and became engaged to her.
When the First World War broke out, he hastened to join the British Army , releasing Barbara from her engagement in case he was killed or mutilated. The girl later married another, less principled officer. Wimsey served on the Western Front from to , reaching the rank of Major in the Rifle Brigade. He was appointed an Intelligence Officer , and on one occasion he infiltrated the staff room of a German officer. As noted in Have His Carcase , he communicated at that time with British Intelligence using the Playfair cipher and became proficient in its use.
For reasons never clarified, after the end of his spy mission, Wimsey in the later part of the war moved from Intelligence and resumed the role of a regular line officer. He was a conscientious and effective commanding officer, popular with the men under his command—an affection still retained by Wimsey's former soldiers many years after the war, as is evident from a short passage in Clouds of Witness and an extensive reminiscence in Gaudy Night. In particular, while in the army he met Sergeant Mervyn Bunter , who had previously been in service. In , Wimsey was wounded by artillery fire near Caudry in France.
He suffered a breakdown due to shell shock which we now call post-traumatic stress disorder but which was then often thought, by those without first-hand experience of it, to be a species of malingering and was eventually sent home. While sharing this experience, which the Dowager Duchess referred to as "a jam", Wimsey and Bunter arranged that if they were both to survive the war, Bunter would become Wimsey's valet. Throughout the books, Bunter takes care to address Wimsey as "My Lord".
Nevertheless, he is a friend as well as a servant, and Wimsey again and again expresses amazement at Bunter's high efficiency and competence in virtually every sphere of life. Wimsey was for a time unable to give servants any orders whatsoever, since his wartime experience made him associate the giving of an order with causing the death of the person to whom the order was given.
Bunter arrived and, with the approval of the Dowager Duchess, took up his post as valet. Even much later, however, Wimsey would have relapses—especially when his actions caused a murderer to be hanged. As noted in Whose Body? Lord Peter begins his hobby of investigation by recovering The Attenbury Emeralds in At the beginning of Whose Body? However, Wimsey is able to bypass Sugg through his friendship with Scotland Yard detective Charles Parker , a sergeant in At the end of Whose Body?
In later books, Sugg fades away and Wimsey's relations with the police become dominated by his amicable partnership with Parker, who eventually rises to the rank of Commander and becomes Wimsey's brother in law. Bunter, a man of many talents himself, not least photography, often proves instrumental in Peter's investigations.
However, Wimsey is not entirely well. At the end of the investigation in Whose Body? He soon recovers his senses and goes on a long holiday. As Gerald is the Duke of Denver, he is tried by the entire House of Lords, as required by the law at that time, to much scandal and the distress of his wife Helen. Their sister, Lady Mary, also falls under suspicion. As a result of the slaughter of men in the First World War, there was in the UK a considerable imbalance between the sexes. It is not exactly known when Wimsey recruited Miss Climpson to run an undercover employment agency for women, a means to garner information from the otherwise inaccessible world of spinsters and widows, but it is prior to Unnatural Death , in which Miss Climpson assists Wimsey's investigation of the suspicious death of an elderly cancer patient.
Wimsey's highly effective idea is that a male detective going around and asking questions is likely to arouse suspicion, while a middle-aged woman doing it would be dismissed as a gossip and people would speak openly to her. As recounted in the short story "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba", in December Wimsey fakes his own death, supposedly while hunting big game in Tanganyika , to penetrate and break up a particularly dangerous and well-organised criminal gang.
Only Wimsey's mother and sister, the loyal Bunter and Inspector Parker know he is still alive. Emerging victorious after more than a year masquerading as "the disgruntled sacked servant Rogers", Wimsey remarks that "We shall have an awful time with the lawyers, proving that I am me.
During the s, Wimsey has affairs with various women, which are the subject of much gossip in Britain and Europe. This part of his life remains hazy: it is hardly ever mentioned in the books set in the same period; most of the scanty information on the subject is given in flashbacks from later times, after he meets Harriet Vane and relations with other women become a closed chapter. In Busman's Honeymoon Wimsey facetiously refers to a gentleman's duty "to remember whom he had taken to bed" so as not to embarrass his bedmate by calling her by the wrong name.
There are several references to a relationship with a famous Viennese opera singer, and Bunter—who evidently was involved with this, as with other parts of his master's life—recalls Wimsey being very angry with a French mistress who mistreated her own servant. The only one of Wimsey's earlier women to appear in person is the artist Marjorie Phelps, who plays an important role in The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. She has known Wimsey for years and is attracted to him, though it is not explicitly stated whether they were lovers.
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, by Mark Twain
Wimsey likes her, respects her, and enjoys her company—but that is not enough. In Strong Poison , she is the first person other than Wimsey himself to realise that he has fallen in love with Harriet. In Strong Poison Lord Peter encounters Harriet Vane , a cerebral, Oxford-educated mystery writer, while she is on trial for the murder of her former lover. He falls in love with her at first sight.
Wimsey saves her from the gallows, but she believes that gratitude is not a good foundation for marriage, and politely but firmly declines his frequent proposals. Lord Peter encourages his friend and foil, Chief Inspector Charles Parker, to propose to his sister, Lady Mary Wimsey, despite the great difference in their rank and wealth. While on a fishing holiday in Scotland, Wimsey instigates and takes part in the investigation of the murder of an artist, related in Five Red Herrings. Despite the rejection of his marriage proposal, he continues to court Miss Vane.
In Have His Carcase , he finds Harriet is not in London, but learns from a reporter that she has discovered a corpse while on a walking holiday on England's south coast. Wimsey is at her hotel the next morning. He not only investigates the death and offers proposals of marriage, but also acts as Harriet's patron and protector from press and police.
Despite a prickly relationship, they work together to identify the murderer. Bredon is framed for murder, leading Charles Parker to "arrest" Bredon for murder in front of numerous witnesses. To distinguish Death Bredon from Lord Peter Wimsey, Parker smuggles Wimsey out of the police station and urges him to get into the papers. Accordingly, Wimsey accompanies "a Royal personage" to a public event, leading the press to carry pictures of both "Bredon" and Wimsey. In in The Nine Tailors Wimsey must unravel a year-old case of missing jewels, an unknown corpse, a missing World War I soldier believed alive, a murderous escaped convict believed dead, and a mysterious code concerning church bells.
Harriet Vane contacts him about a problem she has been asked to investigate in her college at Oxford Gaudy Night. At the end of their investigation, Vane finally accepts Wimsey's proposal of marriage. The couple marry on 8 October , at St Cross Church, Oxford , as depicted in the opening collection of letters and diary entries in Busman's Honeymoon.
The Wimseys honeymoon at Talboys, a house in east Hertfordshire near Harriet's childhood home, which Peter has bought for her as a wedding present. There they find the body of the previous owner, and spend their honeymoon solving the case, thus having the aphoristic "Busman's Honeymoon". However, according to the wartime publications of The Wimsey Papers , published in The Spectator , the second son was called Paul. In the subsequent The Late Scholar , Roger is not mentioned at all. In Sayers's final Wimsey story, the short story "Talboys", Peter and Harriet are enjoying rural domestic bliss with their three sons when Bredon, their first-born, is accused of the theft of prize peaches from the neighbour's tree.
Peter and the accused set off to investigate and, of course, prove Bredon's innocence. Wimsey is described as having authored numerous books, among them the following fictitious works:. Dorothy Sayers wrote 11 Wimsey novels and a number of short stories featuring Wimsey and his family. Other recurring characters include Inspector Charles Parker, the family solicitor Mr Murbles, barrister Sir Impey Biggs, journalist Salcombe Hardy, and financial whiz the Honourable Freddy Arbuthnot, who finds himself entangled in the case in the first of the Wimsey books, Whose Body?
Sayers wrote no more Wimsey murder mysteries, and only one story involving him, after the outbreak of the Second World War. In one of The Wimsey Papers , a series of fictionalised commentaries in the form of mock letters between members of the Wimsey family published in the Spectator, there is a reference to Harriet's difficulty in continuing to write murder mysteries at a time when European dictators were openly committing mass murders with impunity; this seems to have reflected Sayers' own wartime feeling.
The Wimsey Papers included a reference to Wimsey and Bunter setting out during the war on a secret mission of espionage in Europe, and provide the ironic epitaph Wimsey writes for himself: "Here lies an anachronism in the vague expectation of eternity". The papers also incidentally show that in addition to his thorough knowledge of the classics of English literature, Wimsey is familiar—though in fundamental disagreement—with the works of Karl Marx , and well able to debate with Marxists on their home ground.
Unaccustomed as I am to Public Dying
The only occasion when Sayers returned to Wimsey was the short story "Talboys". As she descended the escalator, the bottom floor paneling that concealed its inner workings suddenly gave way. Thinking quickly, she tossed her toddler to a nearby mall employee—and safety—a split second before disappearing into the churning machinery. Another employee attempted to grab her, but the incident simply happened too fast.
Apparently, the escalator had just undergone maintenance and workers had failed to secure the floor plate afterward. Owing to its monsoon season and haphazard maintenance, India has long had a problem with the quality of its roads. One night in , a crew was repairing a particularly damaged road in New Delhi when they failed to notice a critical detail. At the bottom of the hole they were filling in was local farmworker Latori Barman, 45, who was passed out drunk and therefore failed to notice the crew busily filling his grave.
The workers flattened the fresh patch with a steamroller and went about their business. Nobody knew anything was amiss until the next day. Latori had somehow managed to make partial progress in extracting himself, and part of his arm was visibly sticking out of the freshly laid road.
It was determined that he had suffocated, and two of the workers responsible were charged with culpable homicide. In , Surinder Singh Bajwa, the deputy mayor of New Delhi, was enjoying a quiet night at home when it was disrupted by a pest infestation.
They were not the type of pests that most are accustomed to, however. Bajwa was suddenly dealing with a large pack of angry rhesus monkeys that had somehow gained entry to his house. While nuisance monkeys are a known issue in New Delhi, this particular pack was spoiling for a fight , forcing Bajwa onto his balcony. Although the details are unclear, it appears that the pack followed him onto the balcony, causing Bajwa to take a header over the edge.
He died at the hospital of injuries from his fall. In , Maria de Jesus Arroyo, 80, was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a heart attack. Doctors were unable to revive her, but her night was about to get a lot worse. The next morning, lab technicians found her in the body bag in which she had been sealed, which was inside a freezer compartment.
The bag, however, was partially open, and Maria was facedown, which she had not been the night before. Also, her nose was broken and her face was riddled with cuts, which also had not previously been the case. Initially, it was thought that her body had not been handled properly after death. But an examination by doctors revealed that she had been alive at the time of her injuries. It seems that Maria had the severe misfortune of dying twice that night—once in the presence of doctors and once alone in a cold, steel drawer in the morgue.
Mike Floorwalker's actual name is Jason, and he lives in the Parker, Colorado area with his wife Stacey. He enjoys loud rock music, cooking and making lists. Read More: Twitter. All Categories. Warning: Many of these stories are not for the squeamish. Photo credit: aquacultureservices. Photo credit: Daily News. Photo credit: Patrick Pelletier.
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