The disastrous extinction of mankind is the issue before us. It it no small affair of parlour politics we have to consider.

-The new world order by H.G. Wells

According to Cambridge Dictionary the word 'parlour' has two meanings.

  1. a business that provides a stated type of personal service or sells a stated product:
  2. (especially in the past) a room in a private house used for relaxing, especially one that was kept tidy for entertaining guests

I am going with the second option.

I think the author means that this not a small politic affair which we can discuss at parlour in our home.

But why the author used the word "have to"? Does anyone have to consider a politic affair at parlour?

  • The American spelling is parlor politics. I would have said it's a "dated" usage more appropriate to a century ago when HG Wells was writing, but according to that chart the usage has shot to prominence just this century! Which is odd, since regardless of spelling, hardly anyone uses the word "parlour" literally for any kind of room today. Commented May 17, 2021 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


I agree about the interpretation of parlour politics - it's not something for casual discussion.
The phrase have to doesn't refer to the parlor discussion, but to discussion of the prospect of the "disastrous extinction of mankind".

It might be clearer like this:

What we have to consider is no small affair of parlour politics.

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