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Literature / The Young Visiters

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"Mr Salteena was an elderly man of 42 and was fond of asking peaple to stay with him. He had quite a young girl staying with him of 17 named Ethel Monticue."
— The first two lines of the novel

The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena's Plan, is an 1890 novel concerning Mr. Alfred Salteena's quest to woo a guest of his, a lovely young lady called Ethel Monticue. When Mr. Salteena introduces Miss Monticue to his friend, a high-class gentleman named Bernard Clark, sparks fly between the pair and a Love Triangle is formed. Dispirited, Mr. Salteena starts taking "gentleman classes" from his socially superior friend in order to win Ethel's heart.

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Written in 1890 by a nine-year-old Margaret "Daisy" Ashford, the manuscript of The Young Visiters was rediscovered by its author twenty-seven years later. She lent the manuscript to a friend who was recovering from an illness. Two years later in 1919, The Young Visiters was published as a novel with a preface written by J. M. Barrie. It should be noted that Ashford wrote in her manuscript the title as The Young Viseters, but it was published as The Young Visiters.

The comedy of the novel results from the way Daisy imitated grown-up fiction without understanding adult behaviour, particularly the conventions of the time with regard to relations between the sexes.

The novel was made into a Made-for-TV Movie in 2003 with Hugh Laurie as Bernard Clark.


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This novel provides examples of:

  • Costume Porn: Plenty of it; one plot point centres on knickerbockers.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The Prince of Wales. Though he's never named beyond his title, from the time period, it's safe to say this is the prince who eventually becomes King Edward VII. This is carried over into the movie, where he's played by Simon Russell Beale, and is pretty clearly meant to be Edward.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: Most editions preserve the misspellings, and The Film of the Book pronounces them phonetically. Because it's funnier that way.
  • May–December Romance: 42-year-old Mr. Salteena pursues the 17-year-old Ethel. In the first paragraph of the novel, the author describes the former as an "elderly man" and the latter as a "young girl". After Ethel marries the 29-year-old Bernard Clark, he weds an 18-year-old lady-in-waiting.
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  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Bernard proposes to Ethel after one of these.
  • Uncle Pennybags: The Prince of Wales, who fairly blithely gives Mr. Salteena a peerage just because he likes him.
  • Weddings for Everyone: There are three weddings at the end, although Lord Clincham's marriage ends up rather unhappy.
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