The Reverent Wooing of Archibald

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"The Reverent Wooing of Archibald" is a short story by British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being a part of the Mr Mulliner series and related to the Drones Club series. It features Archibald Mulliner, the sock collector who can mimic a hen laying an egg, and his love Aurelia Cammarleigh. It was first published in the August 1928 issue of United Kingdom literary magazine Strand, and first appeared in the United States in the September 1928 issue of Cosmopolitan. It was collected in the 1929 book Mr Mulliner Speaking.

"The Reverent Wooing of Archibald" was adapted on TV by BBC One for the sitcom anthology Comedy Playhouse, as a 30 minutes episode, aired 9 July 1974.[1]


"The Reverent Wooing of Archibald" is the first of three Archibald-and-Aurelia short stories told by Mr Mulliner, about his nephew Archibald and his love for Aurelia. The two next are "Archibald and the Masses" and "The Code of the Mulliners", both collected in Young Men in Spats (1936)

Plot summary[edit]

As it nears closing-time at the Angler's Rest, several drinkers discuss changing trends in modern society, especially concerning the proportions and personality of young women. Four men, identified by their drinks – a Gin-and-Ginger-Ale, a Draught Stout, a Small Bass, and a Double-Whisky-and-Splash – conclude that the reason for the disappearance of the "dignified, queenly type of girl" cannot be discovered or understood. Mr Mulliner, drinking a hot Scotch and lemon, interrupts to disagree with his companions, conjecturing that, because young men had such fear of proposing to queenly women, their disappearance was Nature's method of ensuring that humanity continued to propagate. He had become convinced that this was the case upon observing the behavior of his nephew Archibald when he was in love with Aurelia Cammarleigh.

Archibald first saw Miss Cammarleigh from out the window of the Drones Club and, though he immediately fell in love, he was careful to mask his feelings when enquiring of a fellow Drone, Algy Wymondham-Wymondham, whether he knew her. Algy does, and informs Archibald of her name as well as her family circumstances: she lives in Park Street with a "potty" aunt, who believes that Francis Bacon wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare.

Archibald departs to buy socks and contemplate whether Aurelia would be attracted to him. He concludes that his primary talent, a masterful impression of a hen laying an egg, is insufficient; indeed, he becomes convinced that she would be put off by such a vulgar display. Consequently, when he first meets her at Ascot several weeks thereafter, he denies vehemently the ability to do the impression.


Sources consulted
  • Kuzmenko, Michel (The Russian Wodehouse Society) (2007-07-25 revision). "Wodehouse books: Mr. Mulliner Speaking". Bibliography. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Check date values in: |date= (help) – Years, covers, characters.
  • Reggie (2007-07-08 revision). "Wodehouse Stories: The Reverent Wooing of Archibald". Blandings, a Companion to the Works of P. G. Wodehouse. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Check date values in: |date= (help) – Plot, note, quote.
  • Wodehouse, P. G. (1929). "The Reverent Wooing of Archibald". Mr Mulliner Speaking. New York: The Overlook Press. pp. 9–30. ISBN 1-58567-659-4.
  1. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (2003). " Guide to Comedy: The Reverent Wooing Of Archibald". Radio Times Guide to Television Comedy. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007.