Monday, August 20, 2012

"Deep Waters" (short story)

Deep Waters

Publication notes: First appeared in the 28 May 1910 issue of Collier’s Weekly, subsequently in the June 1910 issue of The Strand Magazine. Each magazine appearance set the story in its country of publication: Ocean City for American readers, and Marvis Bay for British readers. It was published in book form as part of The Man Upstairs collection in 1914 by Methuen & Co. As published in book form, the setting is Marvis Bay.
  • Marvis Bay
  • Wodehouse's favourite fictional British seaside resort, Marvis Bay, was an echo of the real Carbis Bay, near St Ives, Cornwall (cf. Roville-sur-Mer, which echos Colleville-sur-Mer in name and Deauville in spirit). Marvis Bay sees visits by George Callender in this story (1910), by Reggie Pepper in ‘Helping Freddie’ (1911) and by Bertie Wooster and Jeeves in the not-dissimilar ‘Fixing it for Freddie’, both of which move Marvis Bay east to Dorset; by Lord Dawlish before the start of the novel Uneasy Money (1916), which moves Marvis Bay back to Cornwall; and by the Oldest Member in ‘Ordeal by Golf’ (1919) and ‘The Heart of a Goof’ (1923).
    When the short story ‘Wilton's Holiday’ (1915) was published in The Strand Magazine, it was set in Marvis Bay as well,1 transformed into Marois Bay when published in book form in the British edition of The Man With Two Left Feet (1917)—that locale's sole appearance. The change of a single letter likely represents some form of editorial second-guessing.
    1. The American publication in the Illustrated Sunday Magazine of March 1916 sets ‘Wilton's Vacation’ in Rockport (perhaps a reference to the harbour town in Massachusetts). The narrator is from New York.
  • 'Twas ever thus.
  • As mentioned in the entry for "Something to Worry About", Thomas Moore's poem ‘The Fire Worshippers’ (1817) contains the line ‘Oh! Ever thus from childhood's hour’. Wodehouse is likely quoting Charles Dickens's parody in the The Old Curiosity Shop.


  1. Hurrah! Your identification of Carbis Bay is the first time I've heard this source for Marvis Bay suggested. And it has excellent beaches, a Victorian seaside hotel, and two golf courses. Scholars of Wodehouse golf will surely soon attempt to match the Oldest Member's descriptions of the holes with one or the other of these courses.

    Carbis Bay also has many small coves backed by dark ("indigo") cliffs, as in "Wilton's Holiday"; when reset to America for "Wilton's Vacation" the description of the coves is unchanged, though I can't see that Rockport, Massachusetts, looks much like Cornwall. Perhaps since Wodehouse was living at Bellport on Long Island at the time, he just made up a fictional American Rockport to go along with his Cornish scenery in the story.

    I have to take issue with "Rolville", though. Wodehouse spells it Roville-sur-Mer in the opening of /The Adventures of Sally/ and in the first sentence of chapter 5 of /French Leave/, as well as the start of the story "Ruth in Exile". In the American magazine version of "Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer" it's Roville-sur-mer at first. Later references in those stories, and a mention in "The Tuppenny Millionaire", shorten it to Roville.

    Thanks for the parallel to Colleville-sur-Mer (as you say, in name only; it's not a seaside resort with casino like Deauville), but you've inserted one of its first pair of L's into your "Rolville"; Wodehouse didn't.

    There's also Trouville-sur-Mer, immediately to the east of Deauville across the mouth of the river Touques, and a lot of other -sur-Mer locations along the coast, as one might expect.

    1. Well, this is embarrassing: I have been publishing brand-new posts rather than replying. That makes two reasons that I ought to be spending more time with first reason is that I'm falling behind on new annotations.

    2. I'm honoured by your celebration of Carbis Bay; I was pretty pleased with it myself. I am also inclined to agree that Wodehouse simply grafted a Massachusetts name on to a Cornish place and left it at that, if only because it's the kind of thing I would do myself in the same circumstances.

      I've corrected the misspelling of Rolville- to Roville- with thanks. Tom Lehrer said it best: "If anyone should object to any statement I make I am quite prepared not only to retract it but also to deny under oath that I ever made it."

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