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The Ankh-Morpork Post Office is featured in Going Postal, one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books and the 2007 Discworld Diary, based on previous mentions in Men at Arms and the 1998 diary.

The Post Office, which was once a vibrant, relevant institution complete with gleaming wooden counters and polished brass, staffed by postmen in spiffy blue uniforms, languished and almost died, according to Mr Tolliver Groat (Junior Postman, later Senior Postman and Postal Inspector), when postmen began to leave half a sack of post behind in order to get home on time. The next day they left another half sack, reasoning they could do it on their day off, by which point too much mail had built up and so much was still left behind. However this was only a minor part of the problem.

Early Years: The Downfall[]

Many decades ago, the Post Office was a proud institution where the Postmaster General, Chief Postal Inspector, and everybody working there wanted to provide good service to the citizens. The place bustled with customers and employees. There were branch offices throughout different areas of the city. One day, disaster struck, or rather, was acquired by Postmaster General Cowerby. He was a man devoted to efficiency, so he acquired a Mail-Sorting Engine; it had been designed by Bergholt Stuttley Johnson, aka Bloody Stupid Johnson, who originally intended it to be an organ (musical instrument). The wrong-ness of the Engine went beyond serving a different purpose than originally intended and arose because BS Johnson disapproved of the mathematical concept of pi being an irrational number and had therefore based the engine around a non-Euclidean wheel, on which the radius divided into the circumference exactly three times, thereby creating an area of dimensional instability. This led the Engine to tap through many layers of the space-time continuum, and the Engine spewed out mail that the postal workers hadn't even put into it. There were letters from the future, mail from alternate universes, and notes that people swore they had written and posted but had never, really. For a while, Postmaster Cowerby supported this because he believed it enabled the Post Office to deliver mail before it was posted which seemed the mark of efficiency. However, the mail from the Engine overwhelmed the working capacity of the postal workers. Logically, it made sense to unplug the monster but the wizards at Unseen University said that this would upset the space time continuum and could end the known world. Finally in despair, Chief Postal Inspector Rumbelow beat up the Engine until it stopped spewing mail, but there were already mountains of letters filling every room and every corridor in the five-story building of the main Post Office, a backlong from which the Post Office could never recover. The Post Office ended being closed in all but name. The furniture was stolen. The winged statue and the chandeliers were removed, the latter ending up gracing Unseen University and the Assassin's Guild buildings. Letters were stolen off the sign on the face of the building and ended up at Hugos Hairdressing Salon. The pay to the employees stopped arriving from the Patrician's Palace. Feral pigeons colonized the Post Office building. Postmen retired. The only employees who remained were the geriatric Junior Postman Groat, along with his pin-collecting companion Stanley. By the time of Going Postal the Post Office had long been forgotten, the building daubed with graffiti, the mail coaches appropriated for passenger travel by the coachmen and its services rendered apparently useless by the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company.

The Revival[]

With these mountains of undelivered mail gathered ina pile at the Post Office it was not surprising that they began to clamour to be read - after all that is the purpose of a letter. The words reached out into any mind available in the vicinity, writing themselves across one's inner vision and whispering to one. The letters also created illusions of the good old days – the counters, the chandeliers, the upstairs balconies, the staff, the customers, the postmen, the bustle; the lights, the noises, everything. Because of this the Post Office came to be considered as haunted. A few months before its revival, there were only two men on the staff: Mr. Tolliver Groat (Junior Postman) and a young man named Stanley (Apprentice Postman). There was no pay, and Mr. Groat scraped together what he could, even renting out the pigeon loft on the roof, to feed himself and the apprentice. There were no postal pigeons, although there were many feral pigeons colonizing the building. On the other hand, the mail coaches, which had always taken paying passengers on the international mail runs, had continued to prosper as a coach service, run by former coachmen and now separate from the Post Office administration.

One day, the Patrician, Lord Havelock Vetinari, decided that he wanted the Post Office back in business, as a means of curtailing the power of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company. One after another new Postmasters were assigned, and one by one they died of accidents. The manners of the deaths were such that the Watch had been called in, but no traces of a murderer had been found. It could be that the very old junior postman despised the new postmasters who had not a drop of Post Office ink in their blood, and killed them. It could be that the shady lodgers in the pigeon loft killed the new postmasters, who had been sniffing around and perhaps discovered their secret businesses. But in fact, the new postmasters had died of hallucination while they explored the building, for example, stepping on what was a floor decades ago but was now a stairwell. Four new Postmasters died in five weeks, and one of these new postmasters was likely a fully trained Assassin in whom Lord Vetinari had confidence. If even an Assassin couldn't deal with the secrets of the Post Office, who could live long enough to bring it back to life? Lord Havelock Vetinari, the Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork, needed someone who was clever, a showman and expendable and found such a person in Moist von Lipwig, a former con-man sentenced to death for his role in the near collapse of the Sto Lat Cabbage Bank among other things.

With Lipwig as Postmaster-General, the Post Office was restored to something approaching its former glory. Lipwig invented the postage stamp, giving a new hobby to young men like Stanley who were formerly obsessed with pin collecting. With the craze of variously-priced, flavoured stamps taking off, Lipwig went on to restore mail coach services to the towns of Sto Lat and Genua. As the clacks lines became less reliable, the Post Office became stiff competition for semaphore.

Ultimately, Lipwig succeeded in bringing down Reacher Gilt, chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, by using a well placed lie and thus restored the Post Office's supremacy in delivering Morporkian messages. Lord Vetinari then handed the Grand Trunk company over to Moist, who planned to give it back to the Dearheart family, from whom it was unjustly taken.

Previous Postmaster-Generals[]

  • Mr. Rublelow
  • Mr. CowerbyMr Mutable - Described as a decent chap, fell to his death into the big hall from the fifth floor.
  • Mr Sideburn - Fell down the back stairs and broke his neck at 3 o'clock in the morning.
  • Mr Ignavia - Found dead as a doornail, his face all contorted like he'd seen a ghost. The Watch & their werewolf were forced to conclude it was death by natural causes, and that no one had been near the body.
  • Mr Whobblebury - A Dark Clerk in the service of the Patrician, he was always snooping around. He found and closely inspected the Mail Sorting Engine just before his death. The post office staff were first alerted to this when the cat, Mr Tiddles, came in carrying a bit of him. In the words of Stanley; "His head was all over the wall!!".

Previous Staff[]

These are past and present members of staff who have gone over and beyond the call of duty and whose actions are still cited today as an inspiration to postal staff and as examples to emulate. Any postman actually dying in the course of duty is assured of a place in the Roll of Honour. Really meritorious acts of valour may be rewarded, sometimes posthumously, with the Post Office Medal of Valour. Recipients include:

  • Extremely Senior Postman Anghammarad
  • Postmaster-General Elwes
  • Miss Honoria Maccalariat
  • Temporary Hogswatch Postman Rodney Postlethwaite
  • Senior Postman Granville Roberts
  • Postman Henry Sloop
  • Miss Alexandra Willet
  • Miss Amelie Willet

Current Staff[]

Moist von Lipwig - Postmaster General[]

See main article

Stanley Howler Head of Stamps[]

One of the two remaining employees of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office prior to Moist von Lipwig being made Postmaster. Raised by peas (no further explanation is given), Stanley has a tendency towards obsessive behaviour, coupled with violent incidents when under stress. He used to be one of the more obsessive of Ankh-Morpork's large number of pin collectors (called 'pinheads'), to the point that all the other collectors thought he was "a bit weird about pins". Fortunately his liking for pins can be used to calm him down from his, as called in the books, 'Little Moments'.

However, following the events of Going Postal, in which the destruction of his collection coincided with the invention of the postage stamp, he redirected his obsession to stamp collecting and philately.

Stanley's surname was not revealed in the book, but is given in various peripheral material relating to Discworld stamps. It is a play on Stanley Gibbons.

Tolliver Groat - Postal Inspector & Acting Postmaster[]

One of the two remaining employees of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office prior to Moist von Lipwig being made Postmaster. A very old man in a cheap "prunes", (or "wig", from the Dimwell Arrhythmic Rhyming Slang: "syrup of prunes: wig"), Groat had spent most of his career in the Post Office as a Junior Postman, since until von Lipwig's arrival none of the other Postmasters appointed by Lord Vetinari had survived long enough to promote him. Groat doesn't trust doctors, which is perfectly understandable since there are very few reliable doctors in Ankh-Morpork. He instead treats himself with a variety of apparently dubious "natural" home remedies (later revealed to be, in actuality, extraordinarily effective), including concoctions made with sulfur or arsenic, and a poultice made of bread pudding. He is a habitual speaker of the only known rhyming slang in the universe that does not actually rhyme.

Tolliver also had a very small part in Wintersmith. The wintersmith approaches him to take some sulphur, so that he would become a man. This incident was reported in The Ankh Morpork Times, and a widow approached him, swayed by 'a man who knows his hygiene.' It is now believed that they are enjoying a relationship, as she was seen walking with him.

His trousers and socks are confirmed as being highly explosive, as a result of the gunpowder solution they are treated with. His wig is believed to be sentient, and is certainly self-mobile, having escaped from a cupboard in the hospital.

In Making Money, Groat was promoted to the position of Postmaster General while Moist von Lipwig assumed his de facto position as chairman of the Royal Bank of Ankh Morpork. Presumably he remained in that position after the novel ended.

  • Miss Iodine Maccalariat, Leader of counter staff
  • George Aggy, Senior Postman
  • Bates, Senior Postman
  • Bill Thompson, Senior Postman
  • Jimmy Tropes, Senior Postman
  • Harry "Slugger" Upwright and Little Jim "Leadpipe" Upwright, leaders of the coachmen
  • Glenda, Counter Staff
  • Gladys
  • Frank and Dave in the Dead Letter Office
  • Mr Tiddles, Official Post Office Cat

...and new counter staff and new postmen, including daughters and sons of retired postal workers, and members of any nationality and species who care to apply for a job and can read and/or write, and get money from the postal customers, watch over the inkwells, or deliver a letter. The ethnic diversity is such that, currently, the Post Office hires more golems than the Watch does. Whereas the Watch had initially hired members of ethnic minorities because Lord Vetinari forced it to, from the get-go Lipwig himself insisted on hiring anyone who could do the job.


The motto of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office is "Neither rain nor snow nor gl om of ni t can stay these mes engers abo t their duty." Fortunately, the missing letters were recovered, by threats of violence and charges of theft, and by the use of a large crowbar, from the hairdresser's 'HUGOS', allowing the motto to be restored to its correct spelling.

By a strange coincidence, the motto is very similar to the motto of another Post Office in the Multiverse.

During the Post Office's decline, a list of things that would, in fact, stay these messengers, was added to the sign. The most notable is Mrs. Cake, listed twice. Mrs. Cake is not to be asked about.

External links[]


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