Monkey Business (short story)

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"Monkey Business"
AuthorP. G. Wodehouse
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherStrand Magazine (UK)
American Magazine (US)
Media typePrint (Magazine)
Publication dateDecember 1932

"Monkey Business" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, which first appeared in the United Kingdom in the December 1932 issue of The Strand Magazine, and in the United States in the December 1932 issue of The American Magazine under the title "A Cagey Gorilla".[1] It was included in the collection Blandings Castle and Elsewhere (1935).[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The story is one of those narrated by pub raconteur Mr Mulliner, and concerns his distant cousin Montrose Mulliner, who is in love with Rosalie Beamish. (In the earlier magazine appearances, the cousin's name is given as Mervyn Mulliner.) Indirectly as a result of the advice of Captain Jack Fosdyke (a self-important and possibly lying explorer), Rosalie proposes that she and Montrose be married inside the cage of a star gorilla on the movie set where the two of them work. This would, she explains, generate much publicity for the film, promote her career, and give him an excuse to ask their boss for a raise. Montrose declines, and Rosalind ends their engagement. For dinner that night, she chooses not to dine with Montrose, but with the supposedly more courageous Captain Fosdyke. Montrose goes to the gorilla's cage and tries to befriend it with a banana, despairing when he recalls that it is an elephant that never forgets, not a gorilla.

A few days later, just before dinner, Montrose encounters a staff member from the Press department, who warns him that, to stoke publicity about the film, the gorilla will be "accidentally" released from its cage, causing panic and generating press attention. This indeed happens just moments later, and Montrose finds himself stranded in a distant part of the movie lot. For safety, and to reconnoiter, he climbs the steps attached to the back of one of the large sets, whereupon he sees that the gorilla has snatched a baby from its mother and lumbered off with the infant, to the consternation of a large crowd of onlookers. A moment later, he trips and falls, and then discovers that the gorilla is towering over him, staring at him with its "hideous face," having just climbed the steps behind the set as well. Now it is revealed that the gorilla is actually an amiable, educated actor named Cecil Waddesley-Davenport, who took the baby because he is a dedicated performer and that was how he saw the scene, but now regrets this and wants the baby returned. Montrose agrees to return the baby. Having apparently rescued the baby, he defeats Captain Fosdyke and wins Rosalie's admiration.

Publication history[edit]

The story was illustrated by Roy F. Spreter in American Magazine.[3] It was illustrated by Gilbert Wilkinson in the Strand.[4]

"Monkey Business" was collected in the Mulliner Omnibus, published in 1935 by Herbert Jenkins Limited, and in The World of Mr. Mulliner, published in the UK in 1972 by Barrie & Jenkins and issued in the US in 1974 by the Taplinger Publishing Company.[5] It was included in the 1939 collection The Week-End Wodehouse (US edition), published by Doubleday, Doran & Co.[6] The story was collected in the 1960 book The Most of P. G. Wodehouse, published in October 1960 by Simon and Schuster, New York.[7] "Monkey Business" was included in The Hollywood Omnibus, a collection of Wodehouse stories published in May 1985 by Hutchinson, London,[8] and A Wodehouse Bestiary, edited by D. R. Bensen and published in October 1985 by Ticknor & Fields, New York.[9]


The story was adapted for television as part of the Wodehouse Playhouse series. It was combined with the Wodehouse short story "The Nodder". The episode was titled "The Nodder" and first aired on 30 April 1976. The cast included John Alderton as Wilmot Mulliner, Pauline Collins as Mabel Ridgway, Sydney Tafler as I. Q. Fishbein, David Healy as L. O. Levitsky, Jonathan Cecil as the gorilla King Boola, Don Fellows as George Pybus, Paul McDowell as the studio guide, Richard Dennis as a writer, Wendy Gilmore as the baby's mother, and Bill Reimbold as the clergyman. Angus A. McInnes, Jay Neill, Roger Salter, and Michael Dynan portrayed Yes Men.[10] Bird imitations were voiced by Percy Edwards.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Midkiff, Neil (3 July 2019). "The Wodehouse short stories". Madame Eulalie. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  2. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 68–69, A53.
  3. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 144, D4.11.
  4. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 186, D133.181.
  5. ^ McIlvaine (1990), pp. 115–116, B5.
  6. ^ McIlvaine (1990), pp. 116–117, B6a.
  7. ^ McIlvaine (1990), pp. 120–121, B12.
  8. ^ McIlvaine (1990), pp. 129–130, B33.
  9. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 130, B34.
  10. ^ Taves, Brian (2006). P. G. Wodehouse and Hollywood: Screenwriting, Satires and Adaptations. London: McFarland & Company. p. 185. ISBN 978-0786422883.
  11. ^ "Wodehouse Playhouse". BBC Genome. BBC. 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  • McIlvaine, Eileen; Sherby, Louise S.; Heineman, James H. (1990). P. G. Wodehouse: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Checklist. New York: James H. Heineman Inc. ISBN 978-0-87008-125-5.