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Galsworthy, John. The Patrician.


The family of the Valleys, an ancient noble stock of landowners, is disturbed to learn about the relationship of their son Miltoun with Mrs Audrey Noel, a supposedly divorced woman. The family matriarch, Lady Casterley, is called upon to fix the matter so that it would not jeopardise Miltoun's promising political career at the approaching elections. Miltoun proposes to Noel only to find her still married and unable to obtain divorce. Barbara, or Babs, Miltoun's sister, develops an equally unfitting romance with the rebellious non-aristocratic Courtier. She refuses the proposal of Lord Harbinger whom she is supposed to marry. Miltoun unconvincingly wins the elections.

Miltoun suffers a nervous breakdown and is attended both by his sister and his platonic lover Noel in his London flat. Noel offers him to become his mistress, but Miltoun believes it impossible to act as an political authority while keeping a secret mistress. He thinks about giving up his public life in favour of his personal life, but his family thinks the idea absurd. (If each man acted like Miltoun, according to his best conscience, the parliament would remain empty.) Noel realises Miltoun’s character is more apt to rule than to love and leaves him. Miltoun successfully pursues his political career. Babs also gives up her romantic notions, lets Courtier leave to fight for a losing cause in Persia, and marries Harbinger. The last word goes to Lady Casterley, content, but somewhat afraid of the nature of man which determines one's final fortunes, no matter what is done to prevent it.


- the title refers to Miltoun who is teasingly called "patrician" by his political opponent Courtier

- brilliant portrayal of the Victorian upper class and its concerns

- realistic setting in the English countryside and London, includes also depictions of actual political and social events

- detailed depiction of the characters' inner struggles

- the conclusion refuses bids for happiness of rebelling individuals in favour of the well-being of society and so affirms the values of the Victorian England 


  • Author

    Galsworthy, John. (1867 - 1933).
  • Full Title

    The Patrician.
  • First Published

    London: William Heinemann, 1911.
  • Form


Works Cited

Galsworthy, John. The Patrician. (1911). London: Penguin, 1943.


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