H. F. Ellis

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Humphry Francis Ellis MBE (July 17, 1907 – December 8, 2000) was an English comic writer, best known for his creation of A. J. Wentworth, the ineffectual schoolmaster whose fictional diaries were first published in the magazine Punch.


Humphry Francis Ellis was born in Metheringham, Lincolnshire. After gaining a double first in classics at Magdalen College, Oxford in 1930, Ellis was employed by Marlborough College to teach. Punch magazine first accepted a submission in 1931, and he left to become a staff writer on the magazine in 1933, the same year he married Barbara Hasseldine.

Ellis became literary and deputy editor of the magazine in 1949, a post which he held until 1953, when he resigned in protest at the appointment of Malcolm Muggeridge as editor. Punch magazine continued to publish Ellis's work, but from 1954 he found a more lucrative market in The New Yorker, where the Wentworth stories (see below) proved very popular.

Ellis was a rugby football Blue at university, and subsequently played for the town of Richmond and for Kent.

H.F. Ellis died in Taunton in 2000, but not before The Papers of A. J. Wentworth, B.A. were republished by Prion Press.

A. J. Wentworth, B.A.[edit]

In Punch, from November 1938[1] onwards, Ellis developed the character of A. J. Wentworth, which was inspired by his experience as a schoolmaster. The Papers of A. J. Wentworth, B.A. were first published in book form in 1949.

A. J. Wentworth, B.A., a gauche, diffident and rather ineffectual mathematics teacher, works at Burgrove Preparatory School in the fictional county of Wilminster. His diaries recount the trials of teaching Pythagoras to unruly schoolboys, as well as Wentworth's experiences as an officer in the Second World War, and later his life in retirement.

The Wentworth stories were read out on the BBC Radio 4 programme Woman's Hour by the actor Arthur Lowe, who went on to play Wentworth in an ITV sitcom, A J Wentworth, BA in 1982. Only six episodes were made before Lowe died.



  • So This is Science! 1932.
  • The Pleasure's Yours. 1933.
  • Much Ado. 1934.
  • Why the Whistle Went: Notes on the Laws of Rugby Football. c.1948.
  • The Papers of A. J. Wentworth, B.A. 1949.
  • (jt ed.) The Royal Artillery Commemoration Book, 1939-1945.
  • (ed.) The Manual of Rugby Union Football, for Coaches and Players. 1952.
  • (ed.) The Art of Refereeing: a Handbook for Rugby Union Referees. 1956.
  • Twenty-Five Years Hard. 1960.
  • Mediatrics; or, The importance and proper care of the middle-aged. 1961.
  • The Papers of A. J. Wentworth, B.A. (Ret'd.) 1962.
  • Swan song of A. J. Wentworth. 1982.
  • The Bee in the Kitchen. 1983.


  • Ellis, H. F. (11 February 1985). "Do Not Go Gentle". The New Yorker 60 (52): 32–33. 


  1. ^ "H. F. Ellis". The Daily Telegraph. 2000-12-12. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 

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