Crome Yellow is a novel by Aldous Huxley. First published in England in November 1921, it is Huxley’s first novel. Primarily episodic in nature, it follows the exploits of Denis Stone, a young poet, during his stay at Crome, a country house in England.1 Perhaps most notably it includes a discussion of a future society which appears to be an early version of the societal structure Huxley would use in his most famous work, Brave New World.2
For a detailed breakdown of the action in each chapter, click here.
Denis Stone, a 23-year-old poet, makes his way to a summer vacation at Crome. He is most excited to see Anne Wimbush, niece of Henry and Priscilla Wimbush, who own Crome. Slightly older than Denis, Anne is a thoroughly modern woman, but he is convinced his desires for her will be returned. Soon after arriving his excitement is dampened by her lack of interest, as well as for not becoming the center of attention, despite having published a book of his poems.
As the rest of the characters at Crome are introduced, Denis finds himself falling ever more into the background. Among these stealing the spotlight is Gombauld, a painter, who he sees as a rival for Anne’s affection. While the relationship and interactions between the three are developed, Denis finds himself drawn into a series of philosophical conversations with Mr. Barbecue-Smith, an author of inspirational books, and Mr. Scogan, a cynical friend of Henry’s.
When Ivor Lombard, a young man-about-town, arrives at Crome, Denis becomes more upset, as Ivor romances both Anne and Mary Bracegirdle, a naive young woman. Meanwhile, Priscilla delves into her obsession with astrology and spirituality, while Henry goes into long stories about the history of Crome and its inhabitants. Mary makes unsuccessful plays for Gombauld as well as Denis, before setting her sights on Ivor. Deaf Jenny Mullion spends most of her time writing and drawing in a journal, which Denis discovers to be full of unflattering portraits of himself and the other visitors.
Resigned to failure over Anne, Denis sends himself a fake telegram calling him back to London on urgent business. It is the first time that he takes definitive, determined action, and he greatly regrets it, leaving the house feeling as if it were his funeral.
The book is made up of 30 chapters. For a detailed breakdown of the action in each chapter see Crome Yellow Summary.
The novel mainly takes place solely in and around Crome, a fictional country house in England that is said to be based on Garsington Manor, near Oxford.3
List of characters
The following characters are featured in the novel.
- Denis Stone – 23 years old, “enamored with the beauty of words”
- Anne – Henry Wimbush’s niece, 27 years old, “her face had a pretty regularity that was almost doll-like.”
- Priscilla Wimbush – Denis’ hostess at Crome Yellow. Dresses much like a dowager, used to be addicted to gambling and now is obsessed with horoscopes. She previously lost thousands gambling in the past.
- Henry Wimbush – Priscilla’s husband, “one of those ageless, unchanging men on the farther side of fifty, who might be thirty, who might be anything.”
- Jenny Mullion – “Perhaps thirty, had a tilted nose and a pink-and-white complexion, and wore her brown hair plaited and coiled in two lateral buns over her ears.” Deaf.
- Mary Bracegirdle – “Nearly twenty-three but one wouldn’t have guessed it,” “serious, moonlike innocence”
- Mr. Scogan – School fellow of Henry Wimbush, “a small gaunt man.”
- Gombauld – Painter, liked by Anne, “a black-haired young corsair of thirty, with flashing teeth and luminous large dark eyes.”
- Rowley – Farmhand, “most venerable of the laborers”
- Mr. Barbecue-Smith – Author of inspirational/comforting books, “ a teacher now, a kind of prophet.”
- Mr. Bodiham – Preacher who believes in a very vengeful God and believes the Armageddon is near. A harsh man who is described as “the man in the Iron Mask” due to his iron-like features.
- Ivor Lombard – 26 years old, independent and multi-talented, makes a game of playing with women. During his short stay at Crome he attempts to romance both Mary and Anne.
For quotes from this book see Crome Yellow quotes
- The musical play, Virginity, was based on Crome Yellow. It is described as follows: “A shy young poet goes to a house party at Crome hellbent on wooing his hosts’ niece, only to find that a dashing, if jaded, painter has arrived first. Spurned by the woman he ardently pursues, Denis grapples with the fickleness of desire and discovers that one’s true soulmate may be hiding in clear view.”4
- A 60-minute BBC radio play, “The Dwarves,” was based on an episode from Chapter 13 of Crome Yellow. Narrated by Garard Green, it is described as follows: “Sir Hercules and his wife, Filomena, are dwarves who have turned their country estate into a haven for others like themselves.”5
- Crome Yellow on Goodreads
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- Full text on Project Gutenberg
- Full text on Open Library
- Audiobook on Archive.org
- Huxley, Aldous. Crome Yellow. Bantam Books, 1962.
- Arbeiter, M. “15 Things You Might Not Know About Brave New World.” Mental Floss, May 20, 2015.
- “Garsington Manor.” Historic England. Accessed January 24, 2021.
- “VIRGINITY (adapted from Aldous Huxley’s 1921 novel, Crome Yellow) by Germaine Shames.” New Play Exchange. Accessed January 24, 2021.
- “Aldous Huxley – The Dwarves.” BBC. Accessed January 24, 2021.