Lord Peter Wimsey
At Eton : 1903 to 1908
Fictional Old Etonians
Known for: Amateur sleuth in the series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers.
School days: Lord Peter was at Eton c.1903-c.1908
Lord Peter Wimsey was the second son of Mortimer Wimsey, 15th Duke of Devonshire, and his wife Honoria. His time at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford were apparently characterised by his academic brilliance and his outstanding abilities as a cricketer. His performance as a batsman is remembered decades later. He was traumatised by his experiences in the First World War, and broke down through shell-shock. He was supported through his illness by his batman, Sergeant Mervyn Bunter, who would go on to become his valet.
Lord Peter is characterised by ‘a mask of impenetrable frivolity’, being ironical about his own privilege and salting his conversation with literary quotes. This stance is implied to be a defence mechanism proceeding from his war experiences. Wimsey is a collector of incunables (books printed before 1501), and is the author of Notes on the Collecting of Incunabula as well as The Murderer’s Vade-Mecum.
Lord Peter appears in 11 Wimsey novels and a number of short stories. The best known are The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Strong Poison, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, and Gaudy Night.