The History of Mr. Polly (1949) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Quiet and somewhat direction-less, Alfred Polly uses the money he inherits from his father to marry and to set up shop in a small town. His heart is in neither of these enterprises and he eventually resorts to desperate measures to break free. His random wanderings in the countryside lead him to a new opportunity that just might be what he's been looking for all along.

  • Alfred Polly is a junior clerk at a gents' outfitters. He's addicted to reading and to indulging his imagination generally, and this doesn't endear him to his employers. Following a mishap, he is dismissed. His receives the news that his father has passed away, and at his funeral he meets a relative, Mrs Larkins, and her three daughters. He muses on the shortness and fleetingness of life, but soon settles down to a life of leisure, which he characterises as an attempt to find a small shop to invest his savings into. His meanderings by bicycle lead him back into contact with the Larkins and in his loneliness he finds himself attracted to them. After a walk in the park, he finds that he has got himself engaged to Miriam Larkins, almost without meaning to, and the happy couple depart by train to a new life in the outfitting trade in the seaside town of Fishbourne. Years pass, and Mr Polly's relationship with both his wife and his neighbours deteriorates badly, and he realises he is heartily sick of his financial struggles and of his battles with his neighbours. He resolves to escape by starting a fire and cutting his throat, but circumstances combine to prevent this. He therefore escapes by simply disappearing, leaving Miriam and tramping the countryside in search of adventure and chance encounters. He soon befriends an innkeeper and her niece, but trouble looms, in the shape of Uncle Jim, and Mr Polly has to stand up and fight to protect his new way of life.


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