Monday, June 11, 2012

Hudson in Another Era

I discovered this item in the Hudson Evening Register for December 3, 1915, and decided to share it, for a variety of reasons.

Students in American slang will be interested in knowing the origin of the now popular expression "Nobody Home," which is the title of the smart musical comedy that John Slocum will present at the Playhouse Friday evening, December 10.

No less a man than Charles Dickens made this expression popular, and it occurs in his "Nicholas Nickleby." Ralph Nickleby, in a talk with the vicious Squeers, he of brimstone and treacle fame, asks Squeers about Smike, who they are plotting to take back to Squeers' school. Squeers, significantly tapping his forehead, remarks, "Nobody home, no matter how hard you knock." Since Dickens used "Nobody Home," it has become one of the most popular of current slang expressions.

Gossips Note: Nobody Home was written by Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton and was their first "Princess Theatre musical." It was an adaptation of a 1905 London show by Paul Rubens called Mr. Popple of Ippleton.

The Playhouse was located at 347 Warren Street. This picture of the Playhouse, with a "For Sale" sign on it, is dated March 27, 1932. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't have a copy of the OED close by, but I'd be stunned if Dickens were the first to use this phrase, rather than just one of its popularizers. Both Pope and Cowper used very similar language (tapping on head, remarking that no one is home to signify stupidity) in the early- and mid-18th century, well before Dickens.