Author Spotlight: P. G. Wodehouse


Photograph of P. G. Wodehouse, 1904

The first P. G. Wodehouse books I ever read did not feature Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves (arguably Wodehouse's most famous characters) but rather denizens of Blandings Castle. This idyllic Shropshire estate is home to the Clarence, the Earl of Emsworth; and his prize pig the Empress of Blandings, winner of multiple silver medals in the Fat Pigs category of the county agricultural show. Blandings also houses an ever-rotating cast of relations including the trouble-making Galahad Threepwood, the tyrannical Lady Constance Keeble, and an endless supply of young people entangled in complicated affairs of the heart.

It didn't take long for me to fall in love with Blandings Castle, and with the madcap adventures that take place within its walls and on its grounds. A typical Blandings novel usually features theft, subterfuge, imposters, pig-napping, and romance in some combination, all of which Wodehouse details in some of the most humorous prose I've ever read. While the cast of characters in each book varies throughout the series, the plots of the Blandings novels have a comforting similarity that makes reading them feel almost like a homecoming.

I was so attached to Blandings Castle and its residents that I was reluctant to read any of Wodehouse's other series, even when I began zipping through the Blandings novels at a pace that threatened to bring me to the last book rather sooner than I would have liked. I debated venturing beyond the yew alleys and rose gardens of Blandings to the London flat of Bertie Wooster or the raucous rooms of the Drones Club on Dover Sreet, but I hesitated due to the nagging fear that I wouldn't feel quite so at home in these places as I did at Blandings Castle. Wodehouse had reached perfection with Blandings, I thought, and nothing else he wrote could possibly be as sublime.

As any true Wodehouse fan knows, I was terribly mistaken in this belief. When my sister gave me a copy of the anthology The Most of P. G. Wodehouse as a present, I finally took the plunge and began exploring Wodehouse's other series. I learned that Jeeves and Wooster could get up to schemes just as madcap as anything that the Blandings crowd got up to, and that the Drones Club's distinguished membership included familiar faces from Shropshire. Even Wodehouse's golf stories were funny, and I don't know the first thing about the kind of golf that doesn't involve windmills and clowns.

While Blandings does still hold a special place in my heart, I know now that it wasn't the yew alleys or the rose garden or the Empress' sty that felt like home. It was the broader world of Wodehouse that was so comforting, that place where spats are always in fashion and the worst problem you'll ever face is an interfering aunt. Knowing this, I now read any Wodehouse book that comes my way with happiness, confident that I'll find myself at home in the Wodehousian universe no matter where the plot takes me.