Wodehouse Quotations

This part includes in itself forewords to Plum's stories published in the book Vintage Wodehouse and written by Richard Usborn.

 

Boxing Final

What follows is the first chapter of the first book Wodehouse published, a public school novel. He had been a good school boxer at Dulwich.

/The Pothunters/

Mike Meets Psmith

Mike Jackson, the star schoolboy cricketer, has been removed, for not working, from Wrykyn by his father and sent, for his last term at public school, to Sedleigh, which has a reputation for making boys work. A new boy in his last term, he meets another new boy, recently removed from Eton by a father with thoughts similar to Mike's father's.

/Mike/

The Clicking of Cuthbert

e-text

Wodehouse was never much better than a 'goof' golfer. He tried to reach the green in one shot from any distance up to 500 yards.

/The Clicking of Cuthbert/

see also Dedications

Boyhood Memories

Wodehouse and Guy Bollon, needing to work uninterrupted on Oh Kay, a show that would he starring Gertrude Lawrence, settled into a quiet house in quiet Droitwich. One day they drove to the minute hamlet of Stableford, seven miles outside the town of Bridgnorth, where Plum had lived as a young man.

/Bring on The Girls/

Dark Deeds at Blandings Castle

(see Texts in wodehouse.ru)

Baxter is Lord Emsworlh's secretary, suspicious of everybody already, but a more sympathetic character than in later books. He suspects Ashe Marson of intent to steal the scarab. What scarab? Well, Ashe is acting valet to Mr Peters, a dyspeptic American scarab-collector. Lord Emsworth has dreamily pocketed, for his museum, a priceless scarab Mr Peters was showing him, and Ashe is trying to get it back into its rightful owner's hands. Mr Peters is dieting, and Ashe has been reading him to sleep from what are now his favourite books, of cookery recipes. Mr Peters's daughter Aline - also a guest at the Castle -is trying to encourage her father by herself dieting. George Emerson is in love with Aline and hales the thought of her going hungry. He has bought food and wine and is going to leave it, when the Castle is asleep, chastely outside his beloved's bedroom door.

It is log past midnight...

/Something Fresh/

Dedications

Of the English editions of Wodehouse's books, twenty-two have dedications - to his wife ('bless her'), his father, his mother, his brother Dick, Denis Mackail, Edgar Wallace, the Earl of Oxford and Asquith (a great admirer of the books), in Hay, Phillips Oppenheim, Douglas Fairbanks (Sr), George Grossmith and others. 'Old Bill Townend, my friend from boyhood's days' got three dedications, in Love Among the Chickens and Ukridge because Townend in a long letter has described a real-life ne'er-do-well that Wodehouse could refine and build into Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, and in A Prefect's Uncle.

Right Ho, Jeeves is dedicated 'To Raymond Needham. K.C;

with affection and admiration', a toning down from the first draft on the advice of the eminent dedicatee himself. Needham told me the story. Wodehouse in the early 1930s was in the bad books of the Inland Revenue. He enjoyed earning the stuff 'in sackfuls'. But his wife Ethel was supposed to be in charge of the family finances. As a boy Wodehouse had heard his parents quarrelling about money, and he had then determined that when he was married, he would elect his wife as chancellor of the exchequer, to spend, hoard, invest, gamble, pay income tax, pay the hills, buy houses or horses... whatever she fancied, so long as she didn't bother him.

Eventually the Inland Revenue summoned Wodehouse to court for a matter of 25,000 pounds or so that they said he owed them. There was one particular senior Inland Revenue Inspector - call him Smith - who had been in charge of the Wodehouse file for years, and now Smith thought he had got his quarry cornered and cold. Wodehouse's solicitors thought so too, but (said Raymond Needham, K.C., to me modestly) they came to him, the topmost Income Tax K.C., in the hope he might ,get their client a settlement a few thousands less than Smith was claiming. Needham took the brief and found that his old friend Smith (often a client, often an opponent in previous tax litigations) had made a bit of a howler in his presentation of the Inland Revenue case. Needham based his rebuttal on this point and got the case dismissed ... nothing to pay except taxi fares and Needham's own bill.

Smith was furious when he heard the judgment and told Needham he would appeal against it damn quick. Needham said, 'Well, anyway, come, and have lunch with us now.' 'Us? Who else?' said Smith. 'My client, P. G. Wodehouse,' said Needham. 'Savoy Grill at one.' Grinding a tooth or two, as Nerdham's client might have described it. Smith finally and grudgingly accepted and (Needham told me) Smith and , Wodehouse came out from lunch arm in arm and smoking one cigar. It had transpired that they had played rugger against each other for their schools, Wodehouse for Dulwich, Smith for Bedford, in the late 1890s. For whatever reason, the Inland Revenue didn't, in fact, appeal the judgment, and Wodehouse was 25,000 pounds (barring taxi fares and legal costs) better off than he had feared.

When Wodehouse had finished his next book. Right Ho, Jeeves, he asked Needham for permission to dedicate it to him in words (Needham couldn't remember them exactly) something like

To Raymond Needham, K.C., who put the tax-gatherers to flight when they had their feet on my neck and their hands on my wallet.

Needham had said. 'Plum, don't be an ass. If you say that, it will infuriate Smith. He'll open your file again and will give you no peace. He'll get you into court and probably brief me for his side against you.' So the dedication of Right Ho, Jeeves now, and for always, reads discreetly as revised.

Dedications

Ukridge's Accident Syndicate

Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge was always cooking up schemes, generally dishonest, generally disastrous, for making himself enormously rich.

/Ukridge/

Grand Hotel

Barribault's in Mayfair Is a rendezvous in several of the later books.

/Full Moon/

Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit

Bobbie Wickham is one of Wodehouse's best fizzy girls, a danger to everybody. She recurs in several stories and books. So does Sir Roderick Glossop, the loony-doctor.

/Very Good, Jeeves/

Franglais

Wodehouse lived in France, on and off, for years. He took French lessons there, but, though he could read the language, he couldn't, or wouldn't, speak it.

/The Luck of Bodkins/

Anselm Gets His Chance

Wodehouse on the Anglican Church - its ministers, their ladies, their pets (Bottles and Webster) and their sermons - is Wodehouse at his benign best.

/Eggs Beans and Crumpets/

Militant Poet

Ricky, in addition to being a poet and a boxer, was also nephew of a Duke.

/Uncle Fred in Springtime/

Gussie Presents the Prizes

For reasons too complicated to explain here, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Bertie's newt-fancying and ('either through a hereditary taint or because he had promised his mother he wouldn't') teetotal friend, faces the prospect of presenting the prizes at the end-of-term rally at Market Snodsbury Grammar School, of which Bertie's good Aunt Dahlia, Mrs Tom Travers, is a Governor. To add to his misery, Gussie has recently failed in his attempt to propose to Madeline Bassett. Bertie, always keen to solve other people's difficulties, thinks that alcohol, surreptitiously laced into Gussie's orange juice, will make a temporary man of him and help him to win through in both directions. Jeeves isn't so keen on the idea as Bertie is.

/Right Ho, Jeeves/

Debut of Young Barrister

Myrtle was Jeff's fiancee and she was not amused when she read the newspaper reports. But Jeff found a better girl and better career before the end of this book.

/Money in The Bank/

Rodney Has a Relapse

When Wodehouse was in trouble in 1941 his 'old friend' A. A. Milne sprang to his attack. Is there a memory of that in this story?

/Nothing Serious/

The Dreadful Duke

The Duke had once been engaged to Lord Emsworth's sister Constance, but had broken it off when her father wouldn't give her a sufficient (for the Duke) dowry.

/A Pelican at Blandings/

Uncle Fred Flits By

This was the first - but mercifully not the last - appearance of Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton, 5th Earl of Ickenham.

/Young Men in Spats/

Lottie Blossom of Hollywood

Lottie and Ambrose were another of the many Anglo-American couples to whom Anglo-American Wodehouse was godfather in print.

/The Luck of Bodkins/

Some Thoughts on Humorists

The New Yorker did a most appreciative 'Profile' of Wodehouse in 1971, the year their 'burbling pixie' reached the age of 90.

/Over Seventy/

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

Rudyard Kipling said that this was an example of the perfect short story.

/Blandings Castle/

Bertie's Saviour

Dogs were usually friendly to Bertie in his later life. But one recalls Stiffy Byng's Scotch terrier Bartholomew.

/Jeeves in the Offing/

 Honeysuckle Cottage

 Wodehouse was always sympathetic with best-selling sentimental female novelists. Also with male writers of sensational mystery novels. Here B meets A in a fourth dimension.

/Meet Mr Mulliner/

The Case Against Sir Gregory

(see also below)

Matchingham Hall, where Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe lives, is much too close to Blandings Castle for the comfort of Lord Emsworth and Galahad. And now the Queen of Matchingham is competing against the Empress of Blandinigs in the Fat Pigs class.

/Summer Lighting/

The Machinations of Stiffy Byng

Of all the delightful hell-raising heroines in Wodehouse . . Bobbie Wickham. Nobbv Hopwood, Corky Pirbright. Paulin Stocker, Lottie Blossom and others. . . Stiffy Byng, orphan niece and ward of bad- tempered Sir Watkin Basset, is the most unscrupulous. In this story Bertie Wooster has come to Totleigh Towers, Sir Watkyn's place, largely to help his friend Gussie Fink-nottle heave his engagement to Madeline Basseit off the rocks. If those two part brass rags, the danger is that Madeline will reach for Bertie again (they were briefly engaged once, through a misunderstanding).

Gussie, who had made such an ass of himself when presenting

the prices to the schoolboys and got the wind up about speaking at his own wedding, and he had consulted Jeeves about it. Jeeves's advice is for Gussie to note down all the unpleasant facts (how they eat soup . . . that son of thing) about all the people whose derision he fears at the wedding breakfast. Then, Jeeves says, he will learn to despise them and will make his speech to them in complete confidence. So Gussie has been writing it all down . . . about Sir Watkyn Bassett, who will he his own father-in-law by then, about Roderick Spode, the amateur dictator, and others .. . in a small notebook.

Well, Stiffy gets something in her eye, Gtissie gallantly whisks out his handkerchief to remove it, and Madeline, suddenly appearing, doesn't like the look of things. Out of Gussie's pocket, with the handkerchief, comes the notebook, and Stiffy, the eye-operation over, picks it up.

So Bertie, for bis own safety and to help Gussie, must try to get the notebook hack from Stiffy.

/The Code of Woosters/

Uncle and Nephew

You remember, Pongo fell this way about his uncle in Uncle Fred Flits By.

/Uncle Fred in Springtime/

The Amazing Hat Mystery

The tactful mediator, or raisonneur, was a frequent hinge in the Wodehouse plots. It was generally a perilous job to undertake. This time two tactful mediators fail in their jobs and find happiness.

/Young Men in Spats/

Myra Meets an Old Friend

Lord Ickenham, in his commoner days, had been, in America, a cow-puncher, soda-jerker, journalist and prospector. Now he's a belted earl and proud of it.

/Service with a Smile/

Pig-Hoo-o-o-o-ey!

People can get almost anything that they want out of Lord Emsworth if they do a good turn for his beloved pig.

/Blandings Castle/

A Top Hat Goes Flying

At lunch-time on the first day of the Eton and Harrow cricket match London's clubland is full of top hats. Lord Ickenham is at the Drones, a guest of his long-suffering nephew Pongo. By a lucky chance there is a catapult, and a Brazil nut, to Lord Ickenham's hand, and he sits, waiting for a target, at the open window. Opposite the Drones is the more sedate Demosthenes Club.

/Cocktail Time/

Tried in the Furnace

It was a surprise to find the stunning Angelica Briscoe still at the vicarage, still unmarried, in Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, which was published thirty-eight years later than this story.

/Young Men in Spats/

Gaily and Sue

The Hon. Galahad Threepwood had never married. Years and years ago he had wanted to marry Dolly Henderson, the Tivoli girl. But his father had put a stop to that by shipping Gally off to South Africa. And now Ronnie Fish, son of one of Gully's many formidable sisters, has fallen in love with Sue Brown, a chorus girl, daughter of dear, departed Dolly. Galahad is determined that, unworthy though his nephew may seem, his marriage to Sue shall not be prevented.

/Summer Lighting/

Two Good Dinners at Blandings Castle

The opening and close of a Blandings novel. Much happens in the intervening two hundred-odd pages, and Galahad Threepwood, illustrious member of the old Pelican Club, has engineered happy endings for all.

/A Pelican at Blandings/

Valley Fields the Blest

Mr Cornelius, of The Nook, Valley Fields, has just offered to lend Freddie Widgeon the 3.000 pounds he needs to buy a share in a tea plantation in Kenya . . . and to marry Sally Foster. Valley Fields is a garden suburb area of London that features in many of Wodehouse's books. It is undoubtedly the Dulwich of his schooldays. Freddie is not the first Drones Club type to come and live temporarily in Valley Fields, to escape creditors or aunts or other menaces.

/Ice in the Bedroom/

Romance at Droitgate Spa

In the snobbish world of invalids, a mere gout-sufferer suddenly makes the social tirade.

/Eggs, Beans and Crumpets/

Introducing Percy Pilbeam

Percy Pilheam, Oofy Prosser, Ogden Ford, Aubrey Upjohn, the Princess Dwornitschek, the Duke of Dunstable. . . there aren't many real stinkers in all the Wodehouse works. But Pilbeam probably deserves to head the short list, and he turns up in several of the novels. Galahad never did get at him with a horsewhip for what he had written about him in Society Spice ('I may tell you,' Pilbeam said later to Sir Gregory Parsloe, 'that it was foreign to the editorial policy of Society Spice ever to meet visitors who called with horsewhips'). Pity. Ronnie Fish never did get at Pilbeam for making a pass at Sue Brown. Pilbeam ran too fast. Pity.

/Summer Lighting/

Bramley is So Bracing

When, in the happy ending of the 1961 novel Ice in the Bedroom, Freddie Widgeon is on his way to the altar, and Kenya, with Sally Foster, you think how lucky he was to have failed in all his scores of earlier passionate courtships:

especially his courtship of the Hon. Mavis Peasmarch. Of Mavis Peasmarch a Drones character had said

'You needn't let it get about, of course, but that girl, to my certain knowledge, plays the organ in the local church and may often be seen taking soup to the deserving villagers with many a gracious word.'

Bingo Little, whose baby Freddie purloins in this story, had had almost as many rejections as Freddie in his pursuits of girls. But then he met Rosie M. Banks, the best-selling novelist, and they married. Of all the recurrent characters they are among the very few couples who specifically get married between one story and the next, have issue ... to wit the Algernon Aubrey of this story that follows.

/Nothing Serious/

Young Villain

All the important children in W udehuuse's books are splendid monsters of misrule. We love them all, even Edwin the Boy Scout, who gets his behind booted by both Boko Fittleworth and Bertie Wooster (Joy in the Morning).

No, I take that back. Not all the children are lovable. Not Huxley Winkworth, and not Ogden Ford, the fat, chainsmoking 14-year-old American boy (son of a millionaire and thus a ripe target for the kidnappers) who is enrolled at an English preparatory school.

Here Wodehouse tells us how The Little Nugget came to be written, and what he himself thought of Ogden Ford.

/The Little Nugget/

The Plot So Far

Author of nearly a hundred books and with publishers courting him in almost every country in the world, Wodehouse was fairly polite about publishers in his books.

/'Sleepy time' in Plum Pie/

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Quotaions from: Michel | Alla | Masha | "Russian" Quotes Articles: Stephen Fry | Hugh Laurie | Sound Quotations on pgw.ru

Quotes - By books

Index from book Wodehouse on Wodehouse. | Article "About Stories" | Dedications1 | Dedications 2 | Prefaces1 | Prefaces2 | Prefaces3 | Prefaces4 | "Facts from Usborn" (forewords from Vintage Wodehouse)

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