So that was a good find …. the hardback edition of 1066 and all that as it was inducted into the Folio Society collection in 1990. It is well regarded as a minor English comic classic and the writer of the Introduction placed it appropriately alongside Three men in a boat. Jolly good show, I say.
1066 and all that became an instant classic upon its release in 1930 and there was a London musical running by 1932. Sellars and Yeatman borrowed the “and all that” from their friend Robert Graves’ best selling kiss off to England, Goodbye to all that. In turn they were appropriated by Arthur Mailey, the Australian slow bowler, in his memoir commemorating his best bowling figures of 10 for 66 and all that.
Sellars and Yeatman almost look as if they have compiled a bunch of schoolboy howlers from English History exams from the era when history was delineated by the reigns of monarchs. What they actually did was to write up the bits of history that managed to penetrate the skulls of disinterested schoolchildren and almost stay there. Of course, a mangled version of history lends itself to a wondrous array of bad puns, spoonerisms, malapropisms and other literary devices which my modest comprehension of English history (itself mangled years back by 1066) and absent understanding of “the classics” render me inadequate to decipher. But the bits I get are pretty funny, even 90 years on. It is justifiably a minor comic classic.
Chapter XII – Rufus, a ruddy king (William II 1087 – 1100)
This monarch was always very angry and red in the face and was therefore unpopular, so that his death was a Good Thing: it occurred in the following memorable way. Rufus was hunting one day in the New Forest when William Tell (the memorable crackshot, inventor of Cross-Bow puzzles) took unerring aim at a reddish apple, which had fallen on to the King’s head and shot him through the heart. Sir Isaac Walton, who happened to be present at the time, thereupon invented the Law of Gravity. Thus was the reign of Rufus brought to a Good End.
The illustration pads this brief chapter out to 3 / 4 of a page.
and, Spoiler Alert, the final chapter which includes a punctuation joke:
Chapter LXII – A Bad Thing
America was thus clearly top nation, and History came to a .