Welcome to the Percy Anecdotes. Within this site you may find stories to amuse you, maybe something profound, maybe something educational. You can never tell. You may have come here because you knew of this work, or more likely, you were drawn here as a result of your online searches. If the latter, I hope you found what you wanted.
The actual books of the Percy Anecdotes were bought in a flea market in Sydney sometime during 1998. They comprise 4 quarto sized volumes bound in red cloth with gold embossing and extremely small print. They were quite cheap, although the spines were in terrible condition. The binding was still good though, and they retained all their pages.
Now I will try an explain why I took all the time and effort to digitise the text of these books and edit them into a web site.
Most web design jobs are boring and tedious, and the results of years of work can be destroyed or completely overshadowed by changes in management or company policy. Nothing is permanent on the internet, todays favourite search engine is tomorrows joke, memes bubble and mutate beyond recognition, mindshare waxes and wanes. To mantain sanity under these conditions I found that reading really old and frivolous literature like the Anecdotes did... nothing at all. Actually, the only antidote to the futility of web design I ever found was cooking and gardening, and the Anecdotes contained in these books are more like the mailboxes of many users today, packed with forwarded rumours and jokes about celebrities, rather than some solid and dependable source of hope like the Household Cyclopedia. Still, when you have nothing to do in a government office, you had best appear to be busy, or they will find something for you to do, or fire you. And if your job is building web sites, then you better be editing windows full of HTML and text rather than playing solitaire.
I have no illusions about these books. The preface of the books themselves describes them as light innofensive reading matter designed to be shared around the fireplace by some hideously repressed and uptight Victorian family who were probably half braindead from the carbon monoxide from the burning coal, and full of lead from their paint, not to mention dizzy from the constant ingestion of patent nostrums and drugs and constipated by a diet rich in lard and gravy. They could emit brief, controlled bursts of nervous laughter while reflecting on how advanced their civilisation was.
Perhaps that was a little harsh. They would be insufferable nowadays, but the Victorians were fascinating people. These books are as revealing of their mindset as a mail inbox or blog of today would be to a historian of the future. So for these and other reasons I embarked on the grueling and tedious task of scanning, OCRing, correcting, formatting and publishing these books so that you can read them.
Matthew Spong, Sydney, August 2000.