Three Weeks (book)

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Three Weeks
Author Elinor Glyn
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Erotic romance
Publisher Gerald Duckworth
Publication date
Media type Hardcover

Three Weeks is a 1907 erotic romance novel by Elinor Glyn.


Paul Verdayne, wealthy English nobleman in his early twenties, is caught embracing the parson's daughter. His parents decide to send him away to France and then Switzerland. In Switzerland, he sees a woman referred to only as "the Lady". The Lady is older, in her thirties. After several days of exchanging lustful glances, they actually meet. She invites him to her apartment, where they share a sexual relationship for three weeks. Eventually, Paul learns the Lady is actually the queen of a Russian dependency and her husband, the king, is abusive towards her. She disappears after the titular three weeks; Paul is upset and returns to England. Paul later discovers that the Lady has given birth to their son. With his father's assistance, he finds out the Lady's identity; however, before they can meet again, she is murdered by her husband. Paul is upset and spends the next five years wandering around from country to country, until he decides to make preparations to meet his son.


Critical reception was negative in the United Kingdom and USA. The book was described as disjointed, "dull and stupid", "boring, vulgar and extremely silly". Critics also made personal attacks on Glyn, saying she was complacent, her writing immature, and she was "indifferent to her own reputation".[1][2][3][4][5][6]

When the novel was published in the USA by Duffield & Co., it was quite popular, selling 50,000 copies in the first three weeks. After that, it sold on average about 2,000 copies per day for the next three months.[7] The book's subject matter made it a specific target of the Boston-based Watch and Ward Society's anti-vice campaigns.


Three Weeks was made into a motion picture in 1914 (it), directed by Perry N. Vekroff and starring Madlaine Traverse and George C. Pearce.[8] It was adapted again in the 1924 version, made by Samuel Goldwyn, directed by Alan Crosland and starring Conrad Nagel and Aileen Pringle.

In popular culture[edit]

  • A sexual scene in Three Weeks inspired the doggerel:
Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err with her
On some other fur?
  • Among the funniest of S. J. Perelman's writings is his series of pieces Cloudland Revisited, in which, as a middle-aged man, he re-reads and describes the risqué novels that had thrilled him as a youth. Tuberoses and Tigers deals with Glyn's Three Weeks. Perelman described it as "servant-girl literature" and called Glyn's style "marshmallow". He also mentions the 1924 film version of the book in which he recalled Goldwyn's "seductive" image of Pringle "lolling on a tiger skin..."[9]
  • In the 1930 Disney short The Shindig, Clarabelle Cow is reading the novel and quickly hides it when Horace Horsecollar shows up for their date.
  • In Evelyn Waugh's 1952 novel Men at Arms (the first of the Sword of Honour trilogy), an (RAF) Air Marshal recites the poem upon spotting a polar bear rug by the fire in a London club, of which he has just wangled membership (p. 125). To this, another member responds: "Who the hell is Elinor Glyn?" The Air Marshal replies: "Oh, just a name, you know, put in to make it rhyme." This was both a snub to the Air Marshal and a literary snubbing of Glyn by Waugh.
  • In the 1973 film Blood for Dracula directed by Paul Morrissey, the character Rubinia (a potential "bride" of the Count) mentions that she is reading Three Weeks. This is used as a subtle comedic touch, as the Count is searching for a virginal victim.
  • In the musical "The Music Man", the librarian asks Mrs. Shin if she wouldn't want her daughter reading a classic rather than Elinor Glyn. Then Mrs. Shin replies that what Elinor Glyn reads is her mother's problem.


  1. ^ Academy, June 29, 1907.
  2. ^ Athenaeum, June 22, 1907.
  3. ^ Literary Digest, October 26, 1907.
  4. ^ Nation, October 10, 1907.
  5. ^ "Prurient and Worse Yet---Dull", New York Times, September 28, 1907. (PDF)
  6. ^ Saturday Review, June 15, 1907.
  7. ^ Dawn B. Sova. Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Sexual Grounds, Facts on File Inc., 1998. 193
  8. ^ Three Weeks at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ Perelman, S. J. (1949), Listen to the Mocking Bird, pp. 70–78, London: Reinhardt and Evans Listen to the Mocking Bird in libraries (WorldCat catalog).

External links[edit]