The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

  Steve's Logo

Origins of the term "Peeping Tom"
By Nicky Smith

I was asked about this at work recently and have realised that some PnPers may not know the origins of the term 'Peeping Tom'. So here goes -


Lady Godiva was a noblewoman who lived in Coventry, England in the eleventh century. Together with her husband, Leofric III, Earl of Mercia, Lady Godiva founded the monastery at Coventry in 1043.

Leofric quickly became active in public affairs, handling financial matters that arose as the town of Coventry grew around the monastery. The tax burden on the peasant populace also grew, as mandated by Leofric, and soon, Lady Godiva began her campaigning for a tax reduction.

As the story goes, Leofric agreed to the reduction on one condition. He would reduce the local taxes when his wife would ride naked through the market square of Coventry. Once Lady Godiva ensured that she truly had his permission to ride naked through the town, she announced she would do it.

Legend has it that Godiva sent advance word to the townspeople of Coventry, asking them to avert their eyes as she rode naked through the market. Out of respect for Godiva, all complied with her wishes. All except one tailor named Tom, who could not help but sneak a peek as she rode by. Immediately after viewing her, Tom was struck blind. From this story comes the phrase "Peeping Tom". Historians generally agree that this portion of the story was added on as an embellishment much later in the history than the actual event. There is historical evidence for details of the Lady Godiva story, including land and tax records of the time. Women have used the symbol of Lady Godiva to inspire their own demonstrations in modern times.

Back to index