Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures

Douglas William Jerrold (1803 - 1857)

Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857) was the son of an actor manager. After some time in the Navy and as an apprentice printer he became a playwright and later a journalist. He was a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens. As a journalist he worked for Punch magazine in which Mrs Caudle's Curtain Lectures were serialised, to be published in book form in 1846.

Job Caudle, the 'hero' of the book is a Victorian shopkeeper whose wife finds she can only talk to him without interruption in bed. Caudle, who outlives his wife, finds he can no longer sleep easily because of his memory of these 'lectures' and resolves to exorcise his wife's memory by recording the lectures, it seems with a view to future publication for the edification of others. Jerrold's humour shines through this insight into Victorian middle class culture. (Summary by Martin Clifton)

Genre(s): Humorous Fiction

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Introduction Martin Clifton
Play 02 Lecture 1: Mr. Caudle has lent five pounds to a friend Martin Clifton
Play 03 Lecture 2: Mr. Caudle has been at a tavern with a friend, and is “enough to poison a woman” with tobacco smoke Martin Clifton
Play 04 Lecture 3: Mr. Caudle joins a club – “The Skylarks” Martin Clifton
Play 05 Lecture 4: Mr. Caudle has been called from his bed to bail Mr. Prettyman from the watch-house Martin Clifton
Play 06 Lecture 5: Mr. Caudle has remained downstairs till past one, with a friend Martin Clifton
Play 07 Lecture 6: Mr. Caudle has lent an acquaintance the family umbrella Martin Clifton
Play 08 Lecture 7: Mr. Caudle has ventured a remonstrance on his day’s dinner: cold mutton and no pudding – Mrs Caudle defends the cold shoulder Martin Clifton
Play 09 Lecture 8: Caudle has been made a mason – Mrs Caudle indignant and curious Martin Clifton
Play 10 Lecture 9: Mr Caudle has been to Greenwich fair Martin Clifton
Play 11 Lecture 10: On Mr. Caudle’s shirt buttons Martin Clifton
Play 12 Lecture 11: Mrs Caudle suggests the her dear mother should “come and live with them” Martin Clifton
Play 13 Lecture 12: Mr. Caudle having come home a little late, declares that henceforth “he will have a key” Martin Clifton
Play 14 Lecture 13: Mrs Caudle has been to see her dear mother – Caudle on the “joyful occasion”, has given a party and issued a card of invitation Martin Clifton
Play 15 Lecture 14: Mrs Caudle thinks it “high time” that the children should have summer clothing Martin Clifton
Play 16 Lecture 15: Mr. Caudle again stayed out late. Mrs Caudle, at first injured and violent, melts Martin Clifton
Play 17 Lecture 16: Baby is to be christened; Mrs Caudle canvasses the merits of probable godfathers Martin Clifton
Play 18 Lecture 17: Caudle in the course of the day has ventured to question the economy of “washing at home” Martin Clifton
Play 19 Lecture 18: Caudle, whilst walking with his wife, has been bowed to by a younger and even prettier woman than Mrs Caudle Martin Clifton
Play 20 Lecture 19: Mrs Caudle thinks “it would look well to keep their wedding-day” Martin Clifton
Play 21 Lecture 20: “Brother” Caudle has been to a Masonic charitable dinner. Mrs Caudle has hidden the “brother’s” cheque-book Martin Clifton
Play 22 Lecture 21: Mr. Caudle has not acted “like a husband” at the wedding dinner Martin Clifton
Play 23 Lecture 22: Caudle comes home in the evening, as Mrs Caudle has “just stepped out, shopping” On her return, at ten, Caudle remonstrates Martin Clifton
Play 24 Lecture 23: Mrs Caudle “wishes to know if they’re going to the sea-side, or not, this summer – that’s all Martin Clifton
Play 25 Lecture 24: Mrs Caudle dwells on Caudle’s “cruel neglect” of her on board the “Red Rover”. Mrs Caudle so “ill with the sea”, that they put up at the Dolphin, Herne Bay Martin Clifton
Play 26 Lecture 25: Mrs Caudle, wearied of Margate, has “a great desire to see France” Martin Clifton
Play 27 Lecture 26: Mrs Caudle’s first night in France – “shameful indifference” of Caudle at the Boulogne custom house Martin Clifton
Play 28 Lecture 27: Mrs Caudle returns to her native land. “Unmanly cruelty” of Caudle, who has refused “to smuggle a few things” for her Martin Clifton
Play 29 Lecture 28: Mrs Caudle has returned home. The house (of course) “not fit to be seen”. Mr Caudle, in self-defence, takes a book Martin Clifton
Play 30 Lecture 29: Mrs Caudle thinks “the time has come to have a cottage out of town” Martin Clifton
Play 31 Lecture 30: Mrs Caudle complains of the “Turtle Dovery”. Discovers black beetles. Thinks it “nothing but right” that Caudle should set up a chaise Martin Clifton
Play 32 Lecture 31: Mrs Caudle complains very bitterly that Mr. Caudle has “broken her confidence” Martin Clifton
Play 33 Lecture 32: Mrs Caudle discourses of maids-of-all-work and maids in general. Mr. Caudle’s “infamous behaviour” ten years ago Martin Clifton
Play 34 Lecture 33: Mrs Caudle has discovered that Caudle is a railway director Martin Clifton
Play 35 Lecture 34: Mrs Caudle, suspecting that Mr. Caudle has made his will, is only “anxious as a wife”, to know its provisions Martin Clifton
Play 36 Lecture 35: Mrs Caudle “has been told “ that Caudle has “taken to play” at billiards Martin Clifton
Play 37 Lecture the Last: Mrs Caudle has taken cold; the tragedy of thin shoes Martin Clifton
Play 38 Postscript Martin Clifton