Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

The term Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells is a proverbial sign-off-name in the United Kingdom for a letter to a newspaper complaining (often excessively) about an objectionable activity.

The term apparently dates back to the 1950s. Historian and former newspaper editor Frank Chapman attributes it to the staff of the former Tunbridge Wells Advertiser. The paper's editor, alarmed at a lack of letters from readers, insisted his staff pen a few to fill space. One signed his simply "Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells".


The phrase is usually used in a satirical manner to poke fun at those with mean-spirited or pedantic "middle England" values.

The magazine Private Eye regularly spoofs Letters to the Editor of various British newspapers, signed by "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" and others.

Certainly the letters of Henry Root show the same spirit of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

A good example of the "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" archetype in modern literature is the character of R. P. Tyler in the novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:

R. P. Tyler knew the difference between right and wrong; there were no moral greys of any kind in his life. He was not, however, satisfied simply with being vouchsafed the difference between right and wrong. He felt it his bounden duty to tell the world.

Not for R. P. Tyler the soapbox, the polemic verse, the broadsheet. R. P. Tyler's chosen forum was the letter column of the Tadfield Advertiser. If a neighbour's tree was inconsiderate enough to shed leaves into R. P. Tyler's garden, R. P. Tyler would first carefully sweep them all up, place them in boxes, and leave the boxes outside his neighbour's front door, with a stern note. Then he would write a letter to the Tadfield Advertiser. If he sighted teenagers sitting on the village green, their portable cassette players playing, and they were enjoying themselves, he would take it upon himself to point out to them the error of their ways. And after he had fled their jeering, he would write to the Tadfield Advertiser on the Decline of Morality and the Youth of Today.


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