Hello Sailor (novel)

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Hello Sailor
Hello Sailor book cover.jpg
Author Eric Idle
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Satire
Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson (hardcover); Futura Publications (paperback)
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 169
ISBN 0-297-76929-4
OCLC 1551782
LC Class PZ4.I17 He PR6059.D4

Hello Sailor is a novel written by Eric Idle and consists of several interweaving stories. The novel's structure is jagged, and its characters odd and unusual. The conclusion of the book is unusual in that the majority of text on the last page is blacked out, allowing the reader to choose the ending he or she would most prefer.


Hello Sailor is a satirical view of British politics.[1] Key plot points in the novel, include a secret of the British Prime minister, and a "space first" by an astronaut named Sickert. Also, during the course of the novel, every Minister's daughter is seduced.[2] Characters included in the plot include a stuffed corpse which serves the post of Foreign Secretary.[1]


Eric Idle wrote Hello Sailor, his first novel, in 1970.[1] The book was first printed in 1975 hardcover by the London publishers of fiction, Weidenfeld & Nicolson.[3] An article on h2g2 attributes the delay in time between the book's writing and its publication to Idle's distrust of the publishing industry.[1] As a literary work from a highly notable performer, the novel was reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement on 21 March 1975.[4] The original hardcover book did not sell very well,[5] but the book was reprinted the same year by Futura Publications.[2] This paperpack issue of the novel was a moderate success.[5]

Though the book sold well,[1] it remains one of Idle's lesser-known works,[5] and is notable as the first published novel by a member of the Monty Python team. (The second would be Michael Palin's Hemingway's Chair, published in 1995.) Idle poked fun at the obscurity of his first novel in a review of Irish novelist, Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry (1999), writing of Doyle, "anyone who has read Hello Sailor (my first scurrilous novel published 22 years ago) deserves a plug."[6] In an interview with The Globe and Mail in 2002, Idle again made reference to the rarity of the book, quipping, "Worth quite a bit on the Internet, I hear."[7]

In his diary entry for 22 February 1975, Michael Palin linked the novel with the dissolution of the Monty Python team. On the day of the diary entry, Idle visited Palin at his home, bringing him an autographed copy of the book. At his home, Idle informed Palin of his decision to leave the team. Palin noted that the novel as well as other solo work by Idle indicated that he was uncomfortable with the restraints the team and the series placed on his career. Idle, according to Palin, was "understandably anxious to shed his old Python Skin... he's moving on, like John did."[8]

A book of the same title was mentioned by Idle and Cleese in the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Sex and Violence" during "The Wrestling Epilogue" sketch, in which a humanist philosophy professor, author of a novel entitled "Hello Sailor," debates an Anglican monsignor over the existence of God in an officiated wrestling match.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Eric Idle – Comedian, Writer and Actor". h2g2. BBC. 26 February 2002. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "Other Python-related Books: Hello, Sailor". Monty Python's Flying Circus in Australia. Archived from .html the original Check |url= value (help) on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2008.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Eric Idle". Contemporary Authors Online. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2008.  (subscription only)
  4. ^ "Hello Sailor (review)". The Times Literary Supplement. London: 293. 21 March 1975. 
  5. ^ a b c "Biography". www.eric-idle.com. 26 February 2002. Archived from the original on 17 March 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2008.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "What Book? [1st Edition]". Daily Mail. UK. p. 57. 
  7. ^ Hampson, Sarah (25 May 2002). "Eric's naughty bits". The Globe and Mail. Canada. p. R3. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  8. ^ Palin, Michael (2006). Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 209–210. ISBN 0-297-84436-9.