Tennis, anyone? (1952)

Jan Ivarsson TransEdit jan.ivarsson at TRANSEDIT.ST
Sun Sep 8 19:59:49 UTC 2002

Nigel Rees' Dictionary of Phrase & Allusion (Bloomsbury 1993) has the following on "Anyone for tennis?":
"A phrase expressive of the 'teacup' theatre of the 1920s and 1930s (as also in the forms who's for tennis? and tennis, anyone?). A clear example of its being used has proved elusive, however, although there is any number of near misses. The opening lines of Part II of Strindberg's _Dance of Death_ (1901) are (in translation): 'Why don't you come and play tennis?' A _very_ near miss occurs in the first act of Shaw's _Misalliance_ (1910) in which a character asks: 'Anybody on for a game of tennis?' Teddie in Somerset Maugham's _The Circle_ (1921) always seems on the verge of saying it, but only manages: 'I say, what about this tennis?' One is told that Gladys Cooper definitely said it in the musical _The Dollar Princess_ (1909) but tangible evidence is lacking. Unfortunately, a terrible wild-goose chase was launched by people claiming it had been Humphrey Bogart's sole first line in his first stage appearance, but he denied it."

Jan Ivarsson
jan.ivarsson at

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