SWMBO = She Who Must Be Obeyed --has appeared in this newsgroup now and
then if reference to a wife, and the phrase comes from a series of books
by Sir John Mortimer.
The creator of the "Rumpole of the Bailey" has died. His death has be
announced today, Friday Jan. 16, 2009. Google John Mortimer Death.
(The fictional character Rumpole is a British barrister, or trial lawyer,
who argues criminal cases at London's old Bailey courthouse. Rumpole's
wife, is the "SWMBO" person.)
British TV's dramatization of some of the short stories staring Leo
McKern were well worth watching on PBS in USA. Leo McKern died in 2002.
But YouTube has several clips of the Rumpole series.
RIP Sir John.
Respects indeed, but from your subject line I assumed you meant H.
Rider Haggard, the *real* author of SWMBO had passed on, and I thought
he'd been dead long since.
My website has a fairly decent article on the origin of SWMBO.
Well, OK, I did visit you web site and you do have posted information I
was completely unaware of. It may take some time for me to digest your
information. I am not dismissing your thoughts, I am just being a bit
I had an unsupported thinking that the "She" reference was to the pagan
Goddess "Gaia" or "Gea", or more specifically to the classical era
Goddess of Earth and Motherhood. The "must be" part come into play since
disobeying Gaia was only punishable by death.
I had even considered that maybe the Roman Empire poet Virgil's Aeneid
(about 26 AD) the long poem about the refugees from the down fall of Troy
and their long journey to find a new home in Sicily and Carthage may have
had a Queen or something that was the referenced "She."
Gilgamesh seems a bit far fetched, but it could be possible.
But King Solomon's Mines and H. Rider Haggard? I don't claim you are
wrong, but at this exact moment, hard to accept. The character Rumpole
was the product of the between world war British boy's school education.
Would he have been exposed to King Solomon's Mines, and the readers of
the Rumpole of the Bailey also exposed to it? Hang if I know.
thanks for the info you posted at your web site. You could be correct.
Haggard didn't just call her "She". It was "She Who Must Be Obeyed".
That's how it was worded in the novel. Further, it's not from "King
Solomon's Mines", it's from "She", from which several movies have been
made, the first one in 1908 and the best known (and arguably the
best) the 1965 version with Ursula Andress playing the title role. In
that one as well, Ayesha was called "She Who Must Be Obeyed", more
than ten years before "Rumpole" first aired.
While there were certainly women in the past who knew how to give
orders, that alone is not enough if the particular phrase is not used
in reference to them. The Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aenid, and the
Epic of Gilgamesh were not written in the English language and so one
cannot assert that they are sources for a specific English phrasing.
The use of "she-who-must-be-obeyed" in the Epic of Gilgamesh dates to
the 1992 Jackson translation, and one suspects that that usage owes
more to Rumpole and Haggard than to the Sumerians. He was aiming at
"accessibility" and may have missed the mark on "accuracy".
I never, ever, read or heard about the phrase until the Rumpole series of
stories by John Mortimer. Haggard and the other references were *WAY*
below my reading radar.
I believe Sir John wrote some 20 to 25 books since 1975 (some books were
a collection of short stories.) Most books were well accepted and sold.
The TV series was also well viewed in many countries. I am still
convinced the SWMBO phrase is contained in almost all the Rumpole stories
(written and television plays.) I still credit the phrase She Who Must
Be Obeyed current popularity to John Mortimer.
If John Mortimer lifted the phrase from somewhere else, I am unable to
Here! Here! Hoist a Guinness and light one for John Mortimer and
me, too. My familiarity with the SWMBO phrase also comes from the
Rumpole of the Bailey series. I enjoyed the program.
Have you ever tasted a Guinness? - often referenced in prose and
film, apparently sought after and quaffed in many a British pub.
When I finally was able to try one, I found it reminiscent of a
delicate balance of burnt orange peels and turpentine.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
Conversation in Spiros, across the street from Ma Tech.
I'm drinking a Guiness. BD says "Can I try that". I let him have a
sip. He orders one. His fiance, says "Can I try some of that". He
says, "No, I don't think so." She asks why not. He says "TJ, this
stuff will make a _man_ out of you, and I don't want you to be a man."
I have to say that Guiness has declined considerably since then, and I
have it on good authority that even then it wasn't what it used to be.
Yes, and it is a long story. Keep in mind there is a BIG difference
between bottled and unpasteurized keg Guinness on tap.
Bicycle road trip days in the early 1980's or there abouts, when I still
thought at my age (back then) I had a shot at young athletic women (I
didn't!!) After 10 miles on road trip, I gave up the chase, and stopped
at an Irish bar. Told my story of unattainable hard body woman to a
another patron and received a glass, in sympathy, of tap Guinness on
bottom and topped off with Harp pale lager (also on tap) as consolation
to my now departed youth.
Ah, but what made the Guinness go down so well??
I was hot and thirsty?
I was morning the loss of the object of my lust?
Ended up drinking and toasting to women, lust, and young manhood with
maybe 8 or 9 other guys in an Irish bar in Virginia not far D.C. on a
slow Saturday afternoon?
Guinness straight from the bottle (pasteurized) is, as the saying goes,
an *Acquired* Taste at best. Burnt orange peels on first try without the
benefit of Harp Lager on top to ease into Guinness is not a bad
description. 'Course the other option I heard about was two straight
shots of Bushmill's Irish whiskey, then the Guinness; your taste buds
need to get a bit numb first.
He didn't "lift it", he made a "literary reference" or "literary
allusion" - Mortimer would've expected his readers to know that when
Rumpole refers to his wife as SWMBO he is (jokingly) talking about a
woman who is only to be crossed at the greatest peril to life and limb.
Or mental equilibrium in any event ...
Actually depends upon how you gained the knowledge in order to bestow the
"credit" where it's due (or what passes for knowledge these days); by
informed reading and study, or by sitting in front of the TV?
Now, just ask yourself which method you would prefer doing your basic
"rocket science", or "brain surgery". <g>
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