The good news is that there is an Annotated Wimsey: Stephan Clarke's The Lord Peter Wimsey Companion. This was originally issued in 1985 by the Mysterious Press (ISBN 0892968508) and was an instant rarity after a major publisher bought that operation and promptly shredded its backlist. The most recent copies I've seen on the used-book market were listed around $250, which makes the high price I paid a few years ago look like a bargain.
But the really good news is that it's back in print, and better than ever. The second edition was released at the end of 2002 by The Dorothy L. Sayers Society and is available from the Society and other sources. It is vastly expanded from the first edition, beautifully laid out and printed, well and intelligently illustrated, a steal at under $50 US, and generally indispensable if one really takes an interest in the books.
Alas, it's not quite the Annotated Wimsey in the same sense as Martin Gardner's rendition of Alice. Lewis Carroll's copyright has expired; those of twentieth century authors have not expired, and never will, to the end of time. Hence, an annotated edition of the books would mean paying royalties on a whole new collected edition, which would be just too expensive for this small market. You must read your own copy and look things up in the LPWC. But Clarke had the absolutely ripping idea of providing a second index to the book, listing the entries according to the stories (or chapters) to which they refer. With this, reading the book and looking up annotations is as convenient as reading an annotated volume, pretty much.
In the meantime, what about these notes? They are a less significant project for me than before the book was issued, but they offer a different view of the works, less exacting and perhaps more whimsical. To the extent that I keep them up, they will try to cover things that ought to be covered in more detail than the space allotted in the LPWC allows, and things that I just feel like expanding on, and even maybe some points on which I don't entirely agree with Clarke's interpretations.
One item in the first category is the notes on The Documents in the Case, which is not Peter Wimsey at all. As a venture into current science and philosophy it is a very intriguing work (also a fine epistolary detective novel), and it offers much room for commentary seventy years later. Another item, strictly Wimseyan, is the crossword puzzle in Uncle Meleager's Will. This extravagant puzzle has an official solution, and a brief set of explanations of the solution (presumably by Sayers), and notes in the LPWC; but I'm still not satisfied. Hence my notes explaining the explanations of the solutions.
Dropping that last practice is a no-brainer. The best practice, which I'll attempt to emulate, is probably that of Harold Ross, who founded The New Yorker: Explain everything. As I recall, he said that the only two people you could name without any explanation were Houdini and Sherlock Holmes. So, if you find a note somewhere that makes you gnash your teeth at its explanation of the obvious, please consider that I may have done the same. Though more probably I gnashed my teeth at the obviousness of some other note.
For all that, here is a list of things that are taken for granted in my text.
The notes as published here are based on my postings to the LordPeter mail list, with many changes and additions from the people on the list. I have tried to give credit where credit is due; please let me know where I've slipped up.
Page numbers in the text are mainly from my 1970-ish Avon paperbacks. I've given the page number for the start of each chapter, so that you can relate the numbers I use to those in your favorite edition. This should make finding text much easier till the arrival of that Definitive Edition whose very page numbers I am unworthy to compute. How long, how long, O Lord?
References to the various stories will commonly use the abbreviations that the mailing list uses; these are defined when they first appear.
Finally, is it necessary to say that I welcome any comments and corrections and additions?
If you have any corrections or additions, please send them to Cousin Matthew, the Wimsey family's archivist. I'll assume, absent anything to the contrary, that such material is fair game for addition to this Web site, with due attribution.
Private mail, and material definitely not intended for publication here, can be sent to my personal e-mail address, which is given below. In any case, of course, you can request whatever treatment you want for your material.
For matter that's posted there or sent to Cousin Matthew, here are the general rules on attribution.
Do let me know if you want a different treatment for what is, after
all, your intellectual property.