Algy - younger son?

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Algy - younger son?

Postby Inactive User 171 » 20 Jun 2014, 07:53

We have wondered before if Algy was a younger son because he is an Honourable and I have just been reading an article written by P G Wodehouse in 1947 where he says there were a lot of younger sons in the 1920s and 1930s who were not in line to inherit the country estate etc. and did not need to work as they were given an allowance by their fathers. P G Wodehouse says most of the characters in his books fall into this category so perhaps it was the same with Algy.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby tiffinata » 20 Jun 2014, 08:05

That would make sense.
Someone will know more about English aristocracy and the hierarchy than this colonial.
And I'm looking forward to being educated!

But it does seem a common theme from many authors- Honourables and not needing to work. Elinor Brent-Dyer, Elsie Oxenham, Dorita Fairlie Bruce are ones I'm familiar with.

Asking a question at the risk of going off topic- Would that be because it was the audience the books were aimed at?
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Spitfire666 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:12

Jenny wrote:We have wondered before if Algy was a younger son because he is an Honourable and I have just been reading an article written by P G Wodehouse in 1947 where he says there were a lot of younger sons in the 1920s and 1930s who were not in line to inherit the country estate etc. and did not need to work as they were given an allowance by their fathers. P G Wodehouse says most of the characters in his books fall into this category so perhaps it was the same with Algy.

That is what I have always assumed, Jenny. It might not have been a large allowance, however, and its value might have fluctuated. It kept him off the breadline, and he could give Ginger money to go and get a set of clothes. At the end of The Black Peril, however, WEJ writes:
"Was that all?" asked Algy bluntly. Didn't they even offer to pay our expenses? This trip has cost a a bit of money one way and another."
If there's one thing certain in this uncertain world it is that Algy won't go home without us.

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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Inactive User 171 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:13

It could well be and of course a younger son with no responsibilities would have time on their hands as well. P G Wodehouse also said that he was criticised in the 1940s for writing about characters that no longer existed and he said that his books were all based in the 20s and early 30s. Bertie Wooster was only supposed to be about 25 in the books.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Spitfire666 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:35

tiffinata wrote:Asking a question at the risk of going off topic- Would that be because it was the audience the books were aimed at?

At the time, it was what would have been expected. WEJ was an innovator with his creation of Ginger. Many writers gave their hero a Cockney sidekick, but Ginger was from Yorkshire and played a decided part in the action. Biggles and Algy could afford to look after him.

Giving his heroes independent means meant that the author did not have to make them waste time earning a living, they were able to go off on adventures. 8-)
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Inactive User 171 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:36

Yes that is true. In Flies Again Algy mentions his father being displeased about publicity but is there any indication that he actually pays Algy an allowance?
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Fairblue » 20 Jun 2014, 08:37

The allowances given to young aristocrats would have depended on the income of the 'Estate'. All sons might well have had an equal allowance, both the eldest who would inherit and the younger ones. For the sake of clarity I'm not going to go into the female line of things. So Algy might have been given enough money to 'keep him off the breadline' as S666 put it and remove the need for him to work, and this could have applied equally well to Algy's elder brother, whose allowance might have been no more generous than Algy's. A lot of fiction deals with the 'expectations' of a young man. An elder son could expect to inherit the Estate and be well off, depending on the financial state of affairs.The younger ones, if they were lucky, would have had money or bits of land bequeathed to them. But equally, younger sons might get nothing on the death of their father and there was no obligation upon the elder son who did inherit, to provide for them.

So Algy's father could have had very little money to spread around, we simply don't know. On the other hand, Algy's allowance could be very generous. Not having enough money is subjective. To Algy it could mean not having enough money to go adventuring. To a working man it's not having enough money to pay the rent or eat. But I have a feeling this was covered in another thread earlier.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Inactive User 171 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:40

Possibly Fairblue but I would not like to try and find it. I was interested in P G Wodehouse's comments about younger sons. Of course Biggles himself was a younger son for a few years before all his family died or were killed in the War. It is the same in the Royal Family where the heir is groomed and the younger sibling seems to have no real role in life.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Spitfire666 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:53

Jenny wrote:Yes that is true. In Flies Again Algy mentions his father being displeased about publicity but is there any indication that he actually pays Algy an allowance?

Well, there is a pretty obvious one that Algy does not frequent the Dole office and neither does he go off to a job each day. :lol:
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Fairblue » 20 Jun 2014, 08:55

tiffinata wrote:
tiffinata wrote:That would make sense.
Someone will know more about English aristocracy and the hierarchy than this colonial.
And I'm looking forward to being educated!

But it does seem a common theme from many authors- Honourables and not needing to work. Elinor Brent-Dyer, Elsie Oxenham, Dorita Fairlie Bruce are ones I'm familiar with.

Asking a question at the risk of going off topic- Would that be because it was the audience the books were aimed at?
Or it could simply be that that's what the authors knew. I doubt if there were many working- class authors because they couldn't have had the time, or the money , to stay at home and write.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Spitfire666 » 20 Jun 2014, 08:56

Jenny wrote:Possibly Fairblue but I would not like to try and find it.

Have you not read through all the posts on the forum, Jenny? I read through every post on every topic when I found this place. :D Otherwise, we end up having the same conversations over and over. :roll:
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Fairblue » 20 Jun 2014, 08:57

Spitfire666 wrote:
Jenny wrote:Yes that is true. In Flies Again Algy mentions his father being displeased about publicity but is there any indication that he actually pays Algy an allowance?

Well, there is a pretty obvious one that Algy does not frequent the Dole office and neither does he go off to a job each day. :lol:
;)
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby SaintedAunt » 20 Jun 2014, 09:32

I agree with the idea that Algy had an allowance, but probably not huge. We know he can't be that well off from the start of Flies Again. What I also think is that, whatever allowance Algy had after WWI, it would have diminished in value pretty fast through the 1920s and 1930s. He would, like Biggles, need other sources of income. Which they managed to get! Reading & Co the other day, I was struck by the huge amount of money Biggles received from being successful in tracking down the 'gang'. Even by today's standards it was huge - when you apply the differential from yesterday's money values to today's it was astronomical. They certainly could afford to buy planes after that.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby J9982 » 20 Jun 2014, 11:05

Wikepedia says "In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons (including the holders of life peerages, but not judicial "Lords" who are not peers) and the younger sons of earls are styled with this prefix", so Algy could be either the son of a Viscount or Baron, or the younger son of an Earl. However as his first appearance in the Biggles books is in the story "The boob" where he is posted to 266 as his mother has pulled a few strings to get him there and as far as I recall his title was not mentioned in that story I would think that WEJ added the "Honourable" at a later date, as he was developing the character. Of course I may be wrong here, but if anyone can point to the book where Algy first appears as "The Honourable" it would be of great interest.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby kylie_koyote » 20 Jun 2014, 11:13

SaintedAunt wrote:I agree with the idea that Algy had an allowance, but probably not huge. We know he can't be that well off from the start of Flies Again. What I also think is that, whatever allowance Algy had after WWI, it would have diminished in value pretty fast through the 1920s and 1930s. He would, like Biggles, need other sources of income. Which they managed to get! Reading & Co the other day, I was struck by the huge amount of money Biggles received from being successful in tracking down the 'gang'. Even by today's standards it was huge - when you apply the differential from yesterday's money values to today's it was astronomical. They certainly could afford to buy planes after that.


WikiAnswers tells me that 1 GBP in 1935 had the purchasing power of 58 GBP today. So the 15,000 pounds that Biggles got from Sir Guy Brunswick would be 870,000 pounds today (in terms that I would understand, this is 1,487,700 USD. Holy Pumpkins! Not bad for a couple of weeks' work.) That would keep them off the breadlines for quite awhile, even considering they probably invested it in an airplane or two.

We know Biggles owned stocks (Condor, Flies Again), so Algy probably did as well - I wonder if they set Ginger up too. Biggles had enough ready cash to buy food and clothing for rather a large group of people at the end of In Spain once he gets in touch with his bank.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Kismet » 20 Jun 2014, 11:36

He's an Honourable by the Rescue Flight.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby J9982 » 20 Jun 2014, 12:29

Kismet wrote:He's an Honourable by the Rescue Flight.


Ah, so May 1939 would be when WEJ decided to give him a title? Whereas he first appears in "The Boob" which was published in 1932, in both "Popular Flying" magazine and "The Camels Are Coming" book. Seems like quite a gap, considering how many books/stories WEJ wrote between the two years.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Kismet » 20 Jun 2014, 12:48

Sorry. It might have been earlier: I've not checked. I know that he's an Honourable in the Rescue Flight, so only earlier stories need be considered to see if he's an Honourable in them.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby tiffinata » 20 Jun 2014, 12:52

He's 'Honourable' in Flies East too.

And 'Flies Again' where they mention his home location, written earlier again.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby Inactive User 171 » 20 Jun 2014, 13:12

I think he is Honourable in all the between the Wars books with varying decorations. At the start of one interwar book he had the MC and Biggles did not but I am sure Biggles had the MC as well.
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby elderlyfemalerelativ » 20 Jun 2014, 18:07

As you say, it was much much more common for upper class people, like Biggles and the boys, to go off wandering/exploring etc. (with the exception of Laurie lee in "I walked out one summer morning") They had the time, money and often a relative who'd discovered the source of something or other. And it's a practical help for the author. Even in modern books it's still handy to have a hero who isn't tied to a 9-5 job. I'm a great fan of Stephen King and nearly all his main characters are writers so have the time to go and do stuff. No "Oh, I'm sorry, I have to go and open the shop/bank/start Form 3s maths exam so I can't go off and look for treasure/fight vampires/uncover spies."
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Re: Algy - younger son?

Postby El Shereef » 21 Jun 2014, 15:44

I remember in one of the later PG Wodehouse books an earl talking about his younger son's allowance, "Can't let Algy starve, what!". Then a few years later, he is says, "why can't we let Algy starve? We all eat far too much now, anyway.". changing times!. I suspect if Algy had lost his allowance in later years, he and Biggles would have invested their earnings well and they also had their salaries.
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