Charles Pooter

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Charles Pooter as illustrated by Phil Hood (1984)

Charles Pooter is a fictional character, the supposed author and leading character of George and Weedon Grossmith's comic novel The Diary of a Nobody (1892). Pooter is a middle-aged and middle-class clerk in the City of London, with ideas above his station. Apart from taking himself very seriously, he is an extreme example of self-importance, with the unhappy result that he is much snubbed by those he considers beneath him.[1] He has a wife called Carrie and a son called Lupin, the latter unsuitably engaged to the distressingly inferior Daisy Mutlar.[1]

Charles (left) and Lupin Pooter, illustration by Weedon Grossmith from The Diary of a Nobody (1892)

The Pooters live at The Laurels, Brickfield Terrace, Holloway, London, in a nice six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour, a little front garden, and a flight of ten steps up to the front door. A nice little back garden runs down to the railway, which causes no nuisance, other than the cracking up of the garden wall.[1] The exact location of the real "Laurels" had always been a subject of speculation, but in 2008 journalist Harry Mount claimed to have found the original in Pemberton Gardens, a road that cuts from Upper Holloway Road to Junction Road in Archway.[2] Pooter's intimate friends Cummings and Gowing always let themselves in at the side entrance, thus saving the housemaid the trouble of going to the door.[1] He sometimes drinks Madeira.[3]

The character has spawned the word Pooterism (Pooterish, Pooteresque), which means taking oneself far too seriously: believing that one's importance or influence is far greater than it really is.[4][5][6]

A 1984 edition of The Diary of a Nobody published by Elm Tree Books included new illustrations by artists Paul Hogarth and Philip Hood, the latter providing a colour caricature of Pooter in the style of the Victorian publication Vanity Fair at the suggestion of the publisher. This showed Pooter in a typical pose carrying business documents while painting the bath with red enamel paint. Based on the illustrations by Weedon Grossmith, Hood's was the first attempt by an artist to create a detailed and realistic portrait of Charles Pooter.[7][8]



  1. ^ a b c d The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith - Project Gutenberg
  2. ^ Finding Pooter's House The Spectator, 8 October 2008
  3. ^ "Gowing produced a pint sample-bottle of Madeira, which had been given him, which he said would get rid of the blues. I dare say it would have done so if there had been more of it; but as Gowing helped himself to three glasses, it did not leave much for Carrie and me to get rid of the blues with." (Diary of a Nobody)
  4. ^ Few knew I was in such a bad way - article by Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph, 19 September 2003
  5. ^ It's uncut, leftwing and Pooterish - article by Mark Lawson in The Guardian, London, 23 April 2005
  6. ^ Debt and inflation - article by Robert Pedition of eston on his BBC blog, 18 June 2008
  7. ^ Pooter caricature from The Diary of a Nobody - Phil Hood's website
  8. ^ Philip Hood - Arena Illustration Portfolios