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Who is Lord Peter Wimsey?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2016
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Lord Peter Wimsey, whose full name is Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey, is an aristocratic British sleuth created by Dorothy L. Sayers, one of the first women to receive a degree from Oxford. As many detectives have both a partner and an official police representative, so too does Lord Peter Wimsey. His butler, Mervyn Bunter, who served with Wimsey in World War I, assists with his investigations, and Chief Inspector Charles Parker of Scotland Yard, who later becomes Wimsey’s brother-in-law, provides the police presence.

Due to Wimsey’s unusual array of talents and the particular crimes he works on, a number of passages are devoted to a range of diverse topics, such as cricket, change ringing, and advertising copy writing. Harriet Vane, an author of detective novels, provides the love interest in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. They meet when he helps clear her of a murder charge, go on to investigate several crimes together, and eventually marry and have three children.

The Lord Peter Wimsey novels were published in the 1920's and 1930's, the final one — Thrones, Dominations — left incomplete at Sayers’s death, was completed by English novelist Jill Paton Walsh. Walsh then went on to write another novel based on the Sayers character, this one entitled A Presumption of Death.

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In the 1970’s and 1980’s the BBC serialized eight of the eleven Lord Peter Wimsey novels. The earlier group was The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Clouds of Witness, Murder Must Advertise, Nine Tailors, and Five Red Herrings starring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey. The latter group was Strong Poison — known as Lord Peter Wimsey in the United States, Have His Carcase, and Gaudy Night, in which Edward Petherbridge played Lord Peter Wimsey. Several versions of Busman’s Honeymoon were filmed in the 1940’s, while Unnatural Death and Whose Body? have never been produced.

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