The coming of Bill / Their Mutual Child / The White Hope

PG Wodehouse once lived here
PG Wodehouse once lived here

Their Mutual Child (aka The Coming of Bill and The White Hope) is full of the loveable characters, preposterous situations, and opportunities to chuckle, if not outright laughs, that we expect from PG Wodehouse. It lacks the frantic slapstick of some Wodehouse comedy, but has a quieter more reflective humour.

Kirk, the erstwhile hero, is a typical Wodehousian hero. At the beginning of the story, he is thoroughly likeable, a healthy, but a somewhat weak and malleable fellow. He dabs at beings a painter for a living, and runs with a gang of hangers-on, who sponge off him. However, his life changes dramatically when he meets the charming and lovely Ruth. Ruth is out of Kirk’s league socially and financially. She possesses an exceedingly rich father and an excessively dominant and eccentric aunt, Miss Laura Delane Porter.

Miss Porter’s claim to fame is her authorship of books and pamphlets aimed at bettering the world through hygiene and eugenics (the highly questionable “science” of race improvement by restricting mating to superior types deemed suited to each other). Against her father’s strong objections, but with Aunt Laura’s approval, Ruth marries Kirk and for a while, wedded bliss surrounds them, crowned off by the birth of their son, Bill.

Like all babies, Bill is deemed by one and all to be miraculous—unique and amazing.However, all good things must end, as they say. Kirk, embarrassed by his inability to support Ruth in the manner in which she is accustomed, heads off to South America to seek his fortune, where he is quickly and thoroughly ruined. However, in the meantime, Ruth and her brother Bailey inherit their father’s wealth. Also in Kirk’s absence, enter, of course, Laura Delane Porter, with her scrupulous ideas of hygiene and her horrors of germs, and the baby’s life becomes a nightmare. When Kirk returns, unsuccessful in his endeavors and outraged at the state of affairs at home, the marriage quickly sours.

Can anyone save Ruth and Kirk from themselves and rebuild their happy home?

Their Mutual Child aka The Coming of Bill or The White Hope by P. G. Wodehouse, first appeared in “Munsey’s Magazine” in May 1914, under the title “The White Hope.” It was published in the U.S. under the title Their Mutual Child in 1919, and in the U.K. with the title, The Coming of Bill in 1920.

(Introduction by Susan Claybrook and Tim Bulkeley with information from the Wikipedia entry.)

Book Time hr: min
Audio Book M4B format: Book1 (Part 1) 2:08
Book 1 (Part 2) 1:44
Book 2 (Part 1) 2:32
Book 2 (Part 2) 2:11
Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 A Pawn of Fate Tim Bulkeley 00:24:56
Play 02 Ruth States Her Intentions Tim Bulkeley 00:18:31
Play 03 The Mates Meet Tim Bulkeley 00:16:35
Play 04 Troubled Waters Tim Bulkeley 00:25:27
Play 05 Wherein Opposites Agree Tim Bulkeley 00:26:28
Play 06 Breaking the News Tim Bulkeley 00:16:11
Play 07 Sufficient unto themselves Tim Bulkeley 00:27:32
Play 08 Suspense Tim Bulkeley 00:18:20
Play 09 The White Hope is Turned Down Tim Bulkeley 00:20:45
Play 10 An Interlude of Peace Tim Bulkeley 00:11:03
Play 11 Stung to Action Tim Bulkeley 00:13:04
Play 12 A Climax Tim Bulkeley 00:13:35
Play 13 Empty-handed Tim Bulkeley 00:17:02
Play 14 An Unknown Path Tim Bulkeley 00:26:16
Play 15 The Misadventure of Steve Tim Bulkeley 00:20:38
Play 16 The Widening Gap Tim Bulkeley 00:16:40
Play 17 The Real Thing Tim Bulkeley 00:13:44
Play 18 The Outcasts Tim Bulkeley 00:20:24
Play 19 Cutting the Tangled Knot Tim Bulkeley 00:37:33
Play 20 Steve to the Rescue Tim Bulkeley 00:08:38
Play 21 At One in the Morning Tim Bulkeley 00:15:33
Play 22 Accepting the Gifts of the Gods Tim Bulkeley 00:15:26
Play 23 Mr Penway on the Grill Tim Bulkeley 00:19:38
Play 24 Dolls with Souls Tim Bulkeley 00:20:35
Play 25 Pastures New Tim Bulkeley 00:12:06
Play 26 The Sixty-first Street Cyclone Tim Bulkeley 00:16:40
Play 27 Mrs. Porter’s Waterloo Tim Bulkeley 00:16:54
Play 28 The White-Hope Link Tim Bulkeley 00:05:12

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