This is part of an ongoing effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc. in the works of P. G. Wodehouse.

Carry On, Jeeves! was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). The notes have been reformatted and somewhat edited and extended, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation. Newly added notes are marked with * instead of the page reference to the Penguin 1999 edition.

Carry On, Jeeves! was published in the UK in 1925, and in the US in 1927. Some of the stories (marked * in the list below) were reworked from the collection My Man Jeeves, published in the UK in 1919, one featuring a young man called Reggie Pepper, a prototype of Bertie, as well as stories about Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. Parenthesized dates are initial magazine appearances.


Jeeves Takes Charge (pp. 1–26)

This story was originally published in 1916, and is in the fictional chronology the earliest of the Jeeves stories. It was published in amended form in Carry On, Jeeves! (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the 1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 1–26.

Easeby   (p. 1)

Fictitious, but does occur as an occasional variant spelling of Easby, a village near Richmond, North Yorks. Many of Wodehouse’s country houses are placed in Shropshire. Placenames ending in ‘-by’ are normally of Danish origin, and would be very unusual in Shropshire, though common in Northeast England.


hand ... the mitten   (p. 1)

To dismiss someone, or jilt a lover. Colloquial expression, probably from Latin mitto (I send).


registry office   (p. 1)

Employment agency for domestic servants.


Types of Ethical Theory   (p. 2)

MARTINEAU, James. Types of Ethical Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1885 (2 vols). Not to be confused with Broad, C. D. FIVE TYPES OF ETHICAL THEORY, which was only published in 1934, but is still in print.

The first quotation can be seen in context at Google Books. “Idiopsychological Ethics” is the title of Book I of Volume II. The later quotation, near the end of this story, can be seen here.


healing zephyr   (p. 2)

The zephyr is a west wind, or gentle breeze.


Worcester Sauce  (p. 3)

A proprietary condiment, made commercially in the UK since 1838 by Lea and Perrins to a recipe brought back from Bengal by Lord Marcus Sandys. [Note that the original appearances of this story in both British and American magazines referred simply to “dark meat-sauce” here.  —KS/NM March 2016]


Lord Worplesdon (p. 3)

Worplesdon is a village about 5 miles north of Guildford, Surrey (where PGW was born). Lord Worplesdon is clearly an hereditary peer, as his daughter is referred to as Lady Florence. However, when he recovers from his breakdown to reappear in Joy in the Morning, he seems to have become a shipping tycoon.


Iron hand (or fist) in the velvet glove (p. 5)

ruthlessness, tyranny, masked by a polite and courteous manner.


give them a what’s-its-name, they take a thingummy (p. 5)

Give an inch, they take a mile – i.e. allow any liberty and they will take advantage of it.  “What’s-its-name” and “thingummy” are two of the many colloquialisms Bertie employs when unable to recall the correct words.


wild oats (p. 7)

avena fatua, a weed found in cornfields. Used metaphorically, sowing one’s wild oats is to indulge youthful folly, knowing that it will later be overwhelmed by the genuine corn. In Danish, “Loki’s wild oats” are spring mists which appear just before the crops start to sprout. (Brewer)


rounder (p. 7)

A dissolute person, someone who does the rounds of bars, etc. The OED lists this as 19th century American slang – presumably Bertie picked up the expression in New York.

(In at least some editions the more common term “bounder” is used here)


Oakshott (p. 7)

Oakshott is another Hampshire place name, a village just north of Petersfield.


bantam weight *

A weight class of boxers recognized since 1894; current upper limit is 118 pounds, lighter than lightweights and featherweights. These smaller boxers would be agile, hence the comparison here to Florence’s side-stepping.

dependent on Uncle Willoughby *

The inference is that Bertie’s uncle is trustee of his inheritance until he reaches a specified age, most likely 25. Internal evidence of the cigar reminicence suggests that he is 24 at the time of this story.

tabasco (p. 8)

A proprietary hot sauce made with chili peppers. Tabasco® brand products are produced by McIlhenny Company, founded in 1868 at Avery Island, Louisiana. Bertie is implying that Uncle Willoughby was hot stuff in his younger days.


a quart and a half (p. 8)

Assuming that this is a British imperial quart, approximately 1.7 litres.


Lord Emsworth (p. 8)

Our Lord Emsworth, Clarence, the ninth Earl, first appeared in Something New/Something Fresh (1915). A previous holder of the title was mentioned in “The Matrimonial Sweepstakes” (1910). Emsworth’s brother, Gally, seems to share many of Uncle Willoughby’s attributes, and his equally lively memoirs provide the plot for Summer Lightning (1929) and Heavy Weather (1933)


Rosherville Gardens (p. 8)

Victorian pleasure gardens at Gravesend on the Thames Estuary. The site is now partly occupied by a GEC factory.


Lady Carnaby’s Memories of Eighty Interesting Years (p. 9)

Carnaby is a village in the East Riding of Yorkshire (now Humberside), near Bridlington.

Compare Lady Bablockhythe’s Frank Recollections of a Long Life (“Clustering Round Young Bingo”) and Lady Wensleydale’s memoirs (referred to by Lord Tilbury in Chapter 1 of Heavy Weather as Sixty Years Near the Knuckle in Mayfair).

Norman Murphy suggests in The Reminiscences of Galahad Threepwood that the original for Lady Carnaby/Wensleydale/Bablockhythe is Adeline de Horsey, countess of Cardigan and Lancastre. She was for many years the mistress of Lord Cardigan of the Charge of the Light Brigade, marrying him after the death of his first wife. After his death, she married the Portugese Comte de Lancastre. Her book My Recollections appeared in 1909.


spineless invertebrate (p. 10)

As a budding novelist, one might have expected Florence to avoid such tautologies, even if she is quoting Aunt Agatha.


in the night watches  (p. 12)

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
  Psalm 63:6
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
  Psalm 119:148

By analogy to nautical terminology, the King James Bible uses the word “watches” to represent what for the psalmists were simply measures of time – they considered the night as subdivided into four parts.


eftsoons or right speedily (p13)

eftsoons (obsolete) soon afterwards, forthwith. Commonly used to give an archaic effect, even a century before Wodehouse:

He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.
“Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

[Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798)]


Eugene Aram (p. 14)

The English philologist Eugene Aram (1704–59) was a self-taught expert on the Celtic languages. Before he could complete his Anglo-Celtic dictionary, he was tried and executed for the murder of his friend Daniel Clarke. As well as Thomas Hood’s poem, which Bertie attempts to quote, there is a novel by Bulwer Lytton on the subject. Hood’s poem was effectively sabotaged by Lewis Carroll’s parody “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”

Bertie has got the metre and the storyline right, but there is no line in the poem that starts “I slew him....” Elsewhere, Bertie often quotes the final stanza:

That very night while gentle sleep
The urchin’s eyelids kissed,
Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,
Through the cold and heavy mist;
And Eugene Aram walked between,
With gyves upon his wrist.

[Thomas Hood “The Dream of Eugene Aram” (1829)]


falling dew (p. 17)

A frequent idea in poetry, so Bertie may not have a specific quotation in mind (among other places, the phrase also occurs in Wilde’s Endymion and at least two poems by “A.E.”):

Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou persue
Thy solitary way?

[“To a Waterfowl” by William Cullen Bryant (1815)]


Raffles (p. 19)

The gentleman burglar, created by Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law E. W. Hornung, first appeared in 1899.


two-year-old *

The age when a thoroughbred racehorse usually begins training and sometimes participating in races against other young horses; a time of great liveliness and vigor.


Walkinshaw’s Supreme Ointment (p. 23)

In Something Fresh, Ch 5 pt 5 (1915), James the footman is criticised for getting Above Himself after appearing in an advertisement for this same ointment.


Nietzsche (p. 24)

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), German philosopher of a realist persuasion, often considered one of the first of the existentialists. He had a considerable influence on artists, writers and thinkers in Continental Europe but was less influential in English-speaking countries, as reflected in Jeeves’ judgement on him.


frost *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


The artistic career of Corky (pp. 27–45)

This story was originally published as “Leave it to Jeeves” in 1916, and appeared under this title in My man Jeeves (1919). It was published in amended form in Carry on Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 27–45.

jute (p. 35)

Jute is a natural fibre, extensively grown in India, and most commonly used to make sacks. Dundee used to be a major centre of the British jute industry. There are a few other jute millionaires in Wodehouse.


milk of human kindness (p. 35)

Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness.

[Shakespeare, Macbeth. Act i. Sc. 5.]


miss-in-baulk (p. 37)

In billiards, it is not permitted to hit a ball in the baulk area of the table in certain circumstances.


Sargent (p. 41)

John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). American painter, closely associated with the French impressionists, and chiefly famous for his portraits.


Baby Blobbs (p. 44)

There are a number of other stories in which portraits find unexpected uses. Brancepeth Mulliner in “Buried Treasure” (Lord Emsworth and others) gets the idea for a comic fish while painting Lord Bromborough’s portrait; In Quick Service, Mrs Chavender’s portrait is used to advertise Duff and Trotter hams.


Jeeves and the unbidden guest (pp. 46–68)

This story was originally published in 1916, and appeared in book form in My Man Jeeves (1919).

It was published in amended form in Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry on Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 46–68.

Shakespeare (p. 46)

This reference is so vague it’s probably impossible to pin down an exact source. Bertie seems to be talking about the concept of Nemesis, which is one of the leading elements of Greek tragedy.


President Coolidge (p. 47)

Vice-President Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) became 30th President of the United States in 1923 on the death of Warren Harding. Clearly, this was a detail added in the revision of the story for publication in Carry On, Jeeves. Coolidge was famous for his taciturnity and his capacity for “effectively doing nothing,” which made him very popular.


What ho! without there? (p. 47)

Seems to have become a cliché of historical fiction, cf. for examples Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia Limited, Edgar Rice Burroughs The Outlaw of Torn and Scott’s Kenilworth. The earliest I found was a play by George Lillo (1693–1739), The London merchant (1731), but it certainly must go back further.


Lady Malvern ... Lord Pershore (p. 47)

Both titles are taken from Worcestershire placenames. Lord Pershore’s is presumably a courtesy title as eldest son, so Lady Malvern’s husband must still be alive.


Durbar (p. 48)

(Urdu) A public reception or levee, usually held with much pomp and ceremony to mark the accession of a ruler to power. The term was adopted by the British when Queen Victoria had herself proclaimed Empress of India at the Delhi Durbar of 1877. Lord Curzon, as Viceroy, stage-managed an even more spectacular Durbar in 1903 to mark the accession of Edward VII, and the last was held for George V in December 1911. It is presumably this one which Lady Malvern attended.


OP to Prompt Side (p. 49)

Right to left – In a theatre, the prompter usually sits to the actor’s left. Thus Prompt Side is left and Off Prompt right as seen by the performers.


on the Halls (p. 49)

Music halls or Vaudevilles were theatres specialising in variety entertainment, and usually also serving food and drink to a mainly lower-class public. They were thus a considerable step down in respectability even from the “legitimate theatre,” and Aunt Agatha would not have been at all pleased.


the rest of my natural (p. 50)

“...for the rest of his natural life” – Conventional phrase used to pronounce a sentence of life imprisonment.


Sing-Sing (p. 51)

The state penitentiary at Ossining, New York. Mentioned frequently in Wodehouse.


stuffed eelskin (pp. 52–3)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


Where is my wandering boy tonight (p. 54)

Where is my wandering boy tonight
The boy of my tenderest care
The boy that was once my joy and light
The child of my love and prayer

    Where is my boy tonight
    Where is my boy tonight
    My heart o’erflows, for I love him, he knows
    O where is my boy tonight

Once he was pure as morning dew
As he knelt at his mother’s knee
No face was so bright, no heart more true
And none was so sweet as he

O chould I see you now my boy
As fair as in olden time
When prattle and smile made home a joy
And life was a merry chime

Go for my wand’ring boy tonight
Go search for him where you will
But bring him to me with all his blight
And tell him I love him still

Popular ballad, words and music by the Reverend Robert Lowry, 1877.

Also the title of a 1922 film starring Cullen Landis as a young man who leaves home and sweetheart and becomes involved with a cynical chorus girl.


Young man, rejoice in thy youth (p. 56)

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment

[(Ecclesiastes 11:9).]

Motty seems to have forgotten the second part!


Much Middleford (p. 56)

Fictitious town, cf. the real placename Much Wenlock. Motty would have been a neighbour of Ashe Marson, hero of Something Fresh/Something New (1915).


The Old Oaken Bucket (p. 59)

How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood
When fond recollection presents them to view
The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,
And ev’ry loved spot which my infancy knew
The wide spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell;
The cot of my father, the dairy house nigh it,
And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well.
The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,
The moss covered bucket that hung in the well.

The moss covered bucket I hailed as a treasure,
For often at noon, when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell
Then soon, with the emblem of turth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well.
The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,
The moss covered bucket that hung in the well.

[Song, words by Samuel Woodworth (1818), usually sung to a tune by George Kiallmark (1870)]


Daniel and the lions’ den (p. 59)

See Daniel, Chapter 6.

16  Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17  And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18  Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19  Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20  And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21  Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22  My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23  Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24  And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.


Rocky Todd (p. 60)

See The Aunt and the Sluggard


Long Island (p. 60)

Wodehouse had rented a house in Bellport, Long Island in 1914.


Blackwell’s Island (p. 64)

A prison was established by New York City on this island in the East River in 1832, soon joined by a workhouse, lunatic asylum and hospital. The prison closed in 1930 and inmates were moved to Rikers Island.


Jeeves and the hard-boiled egg (pp. 69–90)

This story was originally published in Strand Magazine and in The Saturday Evening Post in August and March respectively in 1917. The story first appeared in book format in 1919 when it appeared in a small book entitled My Man Jeeves . It was published in amended form in Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 69–90.

moustache (p. 70)

Wodehouse is so consistently against facial hair in his fiction, that we must assume this to be a personal prejudice of his. Bertie also grows a moustache in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954), where it proves to have the disadvantage of making him irresistible to Florence Craye. The most famous moustache story is of course “Buried Treasure” in Lord Emsworth and others.


Grant’s Tomb (p. 70)

Ulysses S. Grant (1822—85), commander in chief of the Union army in the Civil War and 18th President (1869—77) of the United States. The remains of Grant and his wife lie in an elegant classical building in New York City which used to attract more visitors than the Statue of Liberty. The building is owned by the US National Park Service.


Lord Bridgnorth (p. 78)

Bridgnorth is a town in Shropshire.


chicken farm (p. 78)

Wodehouse’s first successful “adult” novel was Love Among the Chickens (1906), based on the experiences of Carrington Craxton, an acquaintance of Bill Townend who attempted to run a chicken farm.


doubloons and pieces of eight (p. 79)

Two types of archaic Spanish coins, often mentioned in connection with Caribbean pirates – remember Captain Flint’s parrot in Stevenson’s Treasure Island saying “Pieces of eight, pieces of eight.” Doubloon comes from Spanish doblón, and the piece of eight was worth eight reals.


Boost for Birdsburg (p. 82)

A similar deputation of boosting businessmen appears in Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt (1922). There does not appear to be a real place of this name in the USA, although there is one in South Africa. Apparently Beattystown, New Jersey narrowly missed being called Birdsburg. The phrase “Boost for Birdsburg” has taken on a life of its own as an expression of American provincialism.


quid ... o’goblins (pp. 88,89)

Slang expressions for English pounds sterling. “Quid” is still current, and its origins are obscure; the obsolete “o’goblin” is a short variant of “Jimmy O’Goblin,” rhyming slang for “sovereign” (also obsolete).


The aunt and the sluggard (pp. 91–120)

This story was originally published in 1916. The story first appeared in book format in 1919 when it appeared in a small book entitled My Man Jeeves. It was published in amended form in Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 91–120.

The Aunt and the Sluggard (p. 91)

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

[Proverbs, 6, 6–8]


the strenuous life (p. 92)

[Added 2015-12-08 NM:] “The Strenuous Life” is the title of an 1899 speech by Theodore Roosevelt, and of a 1900 book containing it along with other essays. The speech opens: “I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife. . . .”


Be! (p. 92)

Wodehouse loved to parody modern verse, but here he is presumably having a go at Walt Whitman (1819–92) and his imitators. The “fairly nude chappie with bulging muscles” would seem to confirm this idea. [The image below is from Cosmopolitan, July 1920, illustrating Edgar A. Guest’s poem “Youth”; this is later than the original appearance of this story, so cannot be the specific picture Wodehouse had in mind, but it is close enough in spirit that I cannot refrain from including it here. —NM]

[Added 2015-12-08:] Dirk Laurie suggests that a more specific source is Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life (see annotations to The Girl on the Boat, p. 134, for the poem in full). The poem contains these lines, contiguously:

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
 Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
 Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act—act in the living Present!

Compare with the first few lines of the parody:

Be!
Be!
  The past is dead.
  To-morrow is not born.
   Be to-day!
To-day!


 


My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here (p. 95)

FAREWELL to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Chorus.—My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here, 5
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover’d with snow,
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below; 10
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart’s in the Highlands, &c.

[Robert Burns (1759–96) “Farewell to the Highlands” (1790)]


Jimmy Mundy (p. 96)

Probably based on Billy Sunday (1862–1935). Sunday was a successful baseball player with the Chicago White Stockings and the Pittsburgh Pirates before becoming a full-time evangelist in 1897. In 1917 he held his famous 10 week Campaign for New York in which over 98000 people were reported to have been converted. Wodehouse mentions Sunday in a review he wrote for Vanity Fair in March 1915 under the heading “Page Mr Comstock” (see Phelps, chapter 9).


Madison Square Garden (p. 96)

The first Madison Square Garden arena was built by Phineas T Barnum on the site of a former railway yard in 1874. In 1890, this was replaced by a vast building in the Moorish style, which could hold as many as 17000 people, and survived until 1924.


Gehenna (p. 96)

New Testament name for hell, deriving from the Vale of Hinnom, a valley south of Jerusalem. Occurs eight times in the NT (Matt. v. 22, 29, x. 28, xiii. 15, xviii. 9, xxiii. 15, 33; James iii. 6); the word Hades (which Rocky uses on p 110) is slightly more popular, appearing nine times. (source: Brewer)


Georgie Cohan (p. 101)

George M Cohan (1878–1942), American actor, singer, songwriter, playwright and producer. His most famous composition was the song “Over There” (1919). There is an anecdote about him in Bring On the Girls.


Willie Collier (p. 101)

Broadway comic actor and producer.


Fred Stone (p. 101)

Broadway actor, later moved to Hollywood. Famously played the role of the Tin Man in a 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz.


Doug. Fairbanks (p. 101)

Douglas Fairbanks Sr., American actor, became one of the first big stars of Hollywood after he moved there in 1915. Starred in many famous swashbuckling adventure films of the silent era. Married to Mary Pickford. In a letter in Performing Flea dated 1931, Wodehouse mentions dining with them.


Ed Wynn (p. 101)

Vaudeville comedian, worked with the Ziegfeld Follies from 1914, but was blacklisted for a while after organising an actors’ strike in 1919. Later worked in film, radio and television.


Laurette Taylor (p. 101)

Broadway star, appeared in the film "Peg o’ My Heart” (1922).


St. Aurea (p. 107)

An 8th century abbess of Rouen (feastday 6 October). There doesn’t appear to be a hotel of that name in New York at present.


David Belasco (p. 114)

(1859–1931) Playwright, producer and manager. Known as “the Bishop of Broadway.” Well-known works include: The Girl I Left Behind Me (1893), Heart of Maryland (1895), Zaza (1899), and Madame Butterfly (1900).


Jim Corbett (p. 114)

“Gentleman Jim”: Boxer, heavyweight champion around 1900.


The rummy affair of old Biffy (pp. 121–147)

This story was originally published in 1925. The story first appeared in book format in Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 121–147.

espièglerie (p. 121)

(French) mischievousness, impishness, roguishness. A favourite word of Bertie’s. Cf. the legendary German prankster Till Eulenspiegel.


joie de vivre (p. 121)

(French) exuberance, healthy enjoyment of life.


Bohemian revels (p. 121)

The association of the word “Bohemian” with impecunious young Parisian writers and artists was popularised by Henri Murger’s novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème (1847–9) and Puccini’s opera based on it (1896).


the other side of the river (p. 121)

The implication is that Bertie’s hotel is on the respectable right bank of the Seine. Artists would – of course – live on the left bank.


the quiet evenfall (p. 121)

Alas for her that met me,
That heard me softly call,
Came glimmering thro’s the laurels
At the quiet evenfall,
In the garden by the turrets
Of the old manorial hall..

[Tennyson, Maud,  II 215–220  (1855) ]


Hotel Avenida, Rue du Colisée (p. 122)

The Rue du Colisée is a side street of the Ave. des Champs Elysées in central Paris. There is currently no Hotel Avenida listed in Paris.


mes gants... (p. 122)

(French) “My gloves, my hat, sir’s walking stick.”
whangee is not a French word, of course, but an English term, current in the late 18th century, deriving from huang, the Chinese word for the type of bamboo used for making walking sticks.


Sorbonne (p. 122)

University, on the left bank, quite some way from Biffy’s hotel.


Clapham  ... Cricklewood (p. 124)

Cricklewood is in north London, Clapham is south of the river, about ten miles away. The implication is that only someone as absent-minded as Biffy could get the two mixed up.


Honoria Glossop (p. 126 ff)

Bertie’s first engagement to Honoria and Jeeves’s strategy for getting him out of it are recounted in The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), which thus falls chronologically somewhere between “Jeeves Takes Charge” and the present story. Presumably the first five stories adapted from My Man Jeeves are to be seen as coming before  The Inimitable Jeeves and the remainder after it.


forbid the banns (p. 130)

To object to a proposed marriage. From the custom of “reading the banns,” i.e. announcing the forthcoming marriage on three consecutive Sundays before the wedding, in the church of the parish where the couple live. This custom still exists in the Church of England.


British Empire Exhibition (p. 136)

The British Empire Exhibition at Wembley opened in 1924. Due to its success it was extended into 1925. One would be lucky to cover the distance from central London to Wembley in 20 minutes today.


Act of God (p. 139)

A legal phrase used to refer to natural disasters for which no person can be held liable.


Palace of Industry (p. 140)

Most of the exhibits Bertie mentions are recorded as being part of the exhibition. It’s not certain whether there was a Planters’ Bar or a Palace of Beauty, but there was a “Women’s Pavillion” One of the most notable items, displayed in the Canadian Pavillion, was a life size equestrian statue of the Prince of Wales made out of butter .


Jiggle-Joggle (p. 142)

Uncertain. Possibly another name for a cakewalk?


Skee Ball (p. 142)

Arcade game, patented in 1909 by J.D. Estes of Philadelphia, and very popular in the 20s and 30s. It involved getting a wooden ball through one of a series of hoops at the end of a lane like a skittle alley.


Queen Elizabeth or Boadicea or someone of that period (p. 144)

Boadicea or Boudica, queen of the Iceni, a British tribe living in East Anglia, killed fighting against the Romans in 61 CE.

‘Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.’

[William Cowper, Boadicea, an Ode]

Elizabeth I (1533–1603), queen of England 1558–1603. The ruff suggests her as the more likely of the two.


knobkerrie (p. 145)

(Afrikaans) A short weighted club or throwing stick.


Chiswick 60873 (p. 145)

Continuing the running joke about London suburbs, it turns out that the young lady lives in Chiswick (or at least in the district covered by the Chiswick telephone exchange), which is in west London, not far from Wembley, but nowhere near either Clapham or Cricklewood.

It is a little surprising that she has a telephone: telephones remained an expensive luxury item out of the reach of most ordinary people in Britain until at least the 1960s, and were far more common in the USA.Wodehouse may have forgotten about this difference, having lived in the USA for the previous ten years. For the same reason, the five-digit phone number seems unlikely.


parted brass rags (p. 146)

Naval expression: ratings used to share a bag of polishing rags with a colleague (a “raggie”), so parting brass rags was a consequence of separating after a disagreement. Apparently.


Without the Option (pp. 148–175)

This story was originally published in 1925. It was published in book form in Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves , in which the story runs from pp. 148–175.

beak (p. 148)

Slang expression for a magistrate or a schoolmaster. The OED is unable to give a derivation, but there may be a link with the archaic thieves’ cant expression “harman beck” (beadle or constable).


pince-nez ... nose dive (p. 148)

Spectacles without earpieces attached to the nose (French: nose-pincher). “Nose dive” normally means to dive nose-first – Wodehouse, as usual doing something unexpected with a cliché, uses it here to mean “dive from the nose”


Bosher Street Police Court (p. 149)

Appears to be fictitious: there is currently no street of this name in London. Cf. the real Bow Street.

Magistrates’ Courts (formerly sometimes known as Police Courts) deal with minor offences, and remand prisoners accused of more serious crimes for jury trial in the Crown Court. The magistrate in this case was probably a stipendiary, i.e. a professional lawyer sitting as a paid part-timer. Outside London, most Justices are lay people, i.e. non-lawyers.


Leon Trotzky (p. 149)

Lev Davidovich Bronstein (1879–1940). Member of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party during the Russian revolution, Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs and founder of the Red Army. His ideas for spreading the revolution beyond Russia’s borders were opposed by Stalin, and he found himself squeezed out of power after 1922, eventually being forced into exile in 1927 and murdered in 1940. The magistrate would certainly have seen plenty of pictures of Trotsky in the papers.


aquatic contest (p. 149)

The Oxford and Cambridge boat race takes place on a four and a half mile course on the Thames (between Mortlake and Putney), on a Saturday during the Easter vacation. It was first held in 1829.


intoning the responses (p. 152)

Intoning is a way of chanting on a single note practiced particularly in the Church of England. In the Anglican liturgy, Responses are the parts of the service which take the form of a scripted dialogue, usually between priest and clerk or between priest and congregation.


Beckley-on-the-Moor, in Yorkshire (p. 152)

Beckley is a common English placename, appearing in Durham, Hampshire, Kent, East Sussex and Oxfordshire. There is no Beckley in Yorkshire.


banana oil (p. 155)

Isopentyl acetate (an ester used as a banana flavouring). Obsolete slang expression meaning nonsense, or insincere flattery.


Mrs Spenser (p. 155)

In The Inimitable Jeeves, Aunt Agatha is called Mrs Gregson and her butler is called Spenser (see “Sir Roderick comes to lunch”). Elsewhere she is called Mrs Spenser Gregson.


Trumpington Road (p. 156)

Main road heading south out of Cambridge – the continuation of Kings Parade and Trumpington Street.


black cap (p. 158)

Judges would put on a black cap before pronouncing a sentence of death.


colleges ... fifty-seven (p. 161)

In the 1920s, Cambridge University had only eighteen constituent colleges, plus two women’s colleges which were not then full members of the University. Bertie (who is elsewhere said to have been at Magdalen College, Oxford) is perhaps thinking of the famous “57 varieties” slogan of H.J. Heinz, which first appeared in the 1870s.


Girton (p. 163)

Women’s college. Founded at Hitchin in 1869, moved to a site two miles north of Cambridge in 1873.


Sticketh-Closer-Than-a-Brother (p. 163)

A man that hath friends must show himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

[Proverbs 18:24


The Trail of Blood (p. 165)

Oddly enough, the earliest book of this title I could find (by Charles Rushton) was published by Wodehouse’s own publishers, Herbert Jenkins, in 1929. Evidently the title stuck in someone’s mind.

The book of the same title by J.M. Carroll published in the US in 1931 turns out to be a history of the Baptist Church. Bertie would have enjoyed that!


St Luke’s (p. 168)

There is a Catholic church of St Luke in Cambridge, but it is not especially likely that Sir Roderick would be lecturing there. More likely is that Bertie or the author has misheard “Addenbrookes,” the name of the main Cambridge hospital.


Hell’s foundations are quivering (p170)

Hell’s foundations quiver
At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise!

[Sabine Baring-Gould, Onward, Christian Soldiers (Hymn)]


one hundred and fifty miles (p. 171)

(ca. 240km) This distance from Cambridge suggests that Miss Sipperley lives somewhere in the North Riding.


a couple of parasangs (p. 171)

The parasang is a Persian unit of measure, approximately equal to three miles (5km). (Interestingly, the example in the Shorter OED for the figurative sense of parasang is taken from another Wodehouse story.)


bastille (p. 173)

Fortress in Paris, used as a prison in the 17th and 18th centuries. The storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789 was one of the great symbolic events of the French Revolution, although there were few if any political prisoners there at the time.


move in a mysterious way (p. 173)

God moves in a mysterious way
his wonders to perform:
he plants his footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines,
with never-failing skill,
he treasures up his bright designs,
and works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence
he hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour:
the bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.

[Hymn; Words: William Cowper, 1774]


Fixing it for Freddie (pp. 176–197)

This story was originally published in the Strand Magazine in 1911 as the Reggie Pepper story “Helping Freddie” The story first appeared in book format in 1919 when it appeared in a small book entitled My Man Jeeves. It was published in amended form as a Jeeves & Wooster story in Carry on Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). The first serial publication in this form is recorded as the Canadian Ladies Home Journal, 1928. Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 176–197.

packing ... old kitbag (p. 176)

Pack up your troubles in your old kitbag
And smile, smile, smile
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag
Smile, boys, that’s the style
What’s the use of worrying
It never was worth while
So: pack up your troubles in your old kitbag
And smile, smile, smile

[Popular song of the First World War, written by George Asaf and Felix Powell, (1915)]


last rose of summer (p. 176)

’Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep thou with them;
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow
When friendships decay,
And from love’s shining circle
The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

[Irish song, by Sir John Stevenson (1761–1833)]


Morning Post   (p. 176)

The Morning Post was founded in 1772.   It ceased publication in 1937, when it was amalgamated into another national daily.


Marvis Bay (p. 177)

Marvis is a relatively frequent family name, but does not appear to occur in any British placename. There are a number of small seaside places in Dorset which would meet Bertie’s description.


“The Rosary” (p. 178)

The hours I spent with thee, dear heart,
Are as a string of pearls to me;
I count them over, every one apart,
My Rosary, my Rosary.

Each hour a pearl, each pearl a prayer,
To still a heart in absence wrung;
I tell each bead unto the end,
And there a cross is hung.

O memories that bless and burn!
O barren pain and bitter loss!
I kiss each bead, and strive at last to learn
To kiss the cross;
Sweetheart!- to kiss the cross.

[Song (1898), music by Ethelbert Woodbridge Nevin (1862–1901).]

With a name Wodehouse would have been proud to invent, he was one of the most famous American composers of his day but now largely forgotten; the words are by the justly obscure Robert Cameron Rogers. The song was a huge success at the time – the extreme banality of the melody is probably the reason it is the only tune Freddie can play.


married a man named Spenser (p. 185)

In The Inimitable Jeeves, Aunt Agatha is called Mrs Gregson and her butler is called Spenser (see “Sir Roderick comes to lunch”). Elsewhere she is called Mrs Spenser Gregson.


Bailey’s Granulated Breakfast Chips (p. 186)

The fashion for breakfast cereals started with Cornflakes, invented in 1896 by the American physician and dietary reformer Dr John Harvey Kellogg at Battle Creek, Michigan and commercialised by his brother Will. The rapid success of the product led to many imitations being brought on the market – there is an entertaining fictionalised account in T Corraghessan Boyle’s novel The Road to Wellville (1993). Bailey’s Granulated Breakfast Chips appears to be an invented name.


Colney Hatch (p. 187)

The Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum, later Friern Hospital, opened in 1851 in the hamlet of Friern Barnet, in what is now the north London district of New Southgate.


“Hearts and flowers” (p. 191)

Out amongst the flowers sweet,
Lingers pretty Marguerite,
Sowing with her hands so white,
Future blossoms, fair and bright.

And the sunbeams lovingly
Kiss sweet Marguerite for me
Kiss my little lady sweet,
Blue eyed gentle Marguerite!

When I say, “Oh Marguerite,
All my heart is at your feet,
Turn it to a garden fair,
See it blossom ’neath your care.

“Till it yields for you alone
Wond’rous fragrance all your own.
And its sweetest flowers shall grow,
For my Marguerite I know!”

Blushes deepen in her cheek,
Ere the shy red lips can speak,
“Ah! but what if weeds should grow,
Mongst the flowers you bid me sow?”

“Love will pluck them out,” I cry,
“Trust me, Marguerite so shy,
Let my heart your garden be,
Give the seeds of love to me.”

[Music by Theodore Moses-Tobani (1893) Words (added in 1899) by Mary D. Brine.]

A standard of the cinema pianist’s repertoire for the romantic moments in silent films.


animal-trainer blokes (p. 193)

Possibly a reference to the work of Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) on the conditioned reflex, published in 1903. Pavlov trained dogs to associate the ringing of a bell with feeding, and found that the dogs began to salivate when the bell was later rung in the absence of food.


about the size of the Albert Memorial (p. 195)

The 53m high monument to Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in London’s Hyde Park was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and included figures by several leading Victorian sculptors. The seated statue of Albert himself is by J.H. Foley and Thomas Brock. The monument took twelve years to build, being completed fourteen years after Albert’s death, in 1875. It has recently undergone a major restoration. The monument is regarded as one of the most important works of gothic revival architecture.


French windows (p. 195)

Glazed double doors opening from a room onto a patio or veranda.

From Bertie’s comment (don’t forget the flurry of theatrical language earlier when Bertie is rehearsing Tootles) it is clear that the young hero entering through the French windows was already a dramatic cliché, even then.


dresses long enough to be trodden on (p. 195)

When this story first appeared in 1919, hemlines were still down at the ankle; by 1925 they had reached the knee.


six children, a nurse, two loafers, ... (p. 196)

This sort of catalogue is a favourite comic device of Wodehouse’s: Compare the list of spectators of Ashe Marson’s exercises in Something Fresh, Chapter 1.


Clustering around Young Bingo (pp. 198–227)

This story was originally published in the Saturday Evening Post, February 21, 1925, and in the April 1925 Strand magazine, then collected in Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 198–227.

knee-length underclothing (p. 198)

Compare the reference at the end of Chapter 1 of Right Ho, Jeeves to “the knee-length”


Milady’s Boudoir (p. 198)

Aunt Dahlia’s struggling magazine and Bertie’s sole literary effort are frequently mentioned in later stories. Wodehouse regularly contributed stories to a number of women’s magazines, including Cosmopolitan and the Canadian Ladies Home Journal.


Peabody and Simms (p. 199)

Apparently fictitious. Just possibly, the names might have been suggested by two nineteenth century American intellectuals, from opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804–1894), writer and educationalist, disciple of Froebel, and sister-in-law to Hawthorne; and William Gilmore Simms (1806–1870), novelist and biographer, best known as author of historical fiction set in his native South.


... author blokes have bald heads (p. 199)

Wodehouse is making a joke against himself: he had lost most of his hair by this time. Photographs from the twenties almost always show him wearing a hat or cap.


diametrically in the centre of the eyeball (p. 199)

As a diameter is – by definition – a line through the centre of a sphere or circle, this is tautologous. Bertie is saying the same thing twice, for comic emphasis.


Prince of Wales (p. 200)

Courtesy title of the British crown prince (heir to the throne). The future Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor (1894–1972) received the title in 1910. He was very popular as Prince of Wales, and had a powerful impact on men’s fashions, starting the move towards a less formal look (soft collars and Windsor-knotted ties, sports jackets, V-neck sweaters, etc.). It is not surprising that Jeeves, as a sartorial conservative, would have disapproved.


Le Touquet (p. 200)

Le Touquet-Paris Plage is a seaside resort in northern France, about 15km south of Boulogne. Still very fashionable in the twenties, although it declined in popularity with the upper classes when they started going to the Riviera in summer as well as winter.


typhoon, simoom, or sirocco(p. 200)

Typhoon: violent storm occurring in South Asia, especially from July to October.

Simoom: sand-wind which sweeps across the African and Asian deserts in the spring and summer

Sirocco: oppressively hot wind, blowing from the north coast of Africa over the Mediterranean


Covent Garden ... cabbages and tomatoes (p. 201)

Covent Garden was the site of London’s fruit and vegetable market from 1671 until 1974, when it moved to a new site south of the river. It remains an area favoured by publishers and the like.


Mrs Little (p. 201)

Bingo Little and his future wife first appeared in The Inimitable Jeeves. They also appear without Jeeves and Wooster in some stories in the collection Eggs, Beans and Crumpets.


east of Leicester Square (p. 201)

Leicester Square is at the eastern end of London’s aristocratic district, Mayfair, a few streets west of Covent Garden.


pie (p. 201)

Trivial (contraction of ‘easy as pie’).

Coming of Bill (1920) i. v. 54 This Kid Mitchell was looked on as a coming champ in those days. I guess I looked pie to him.

Sam the Sudden (1925) xix. 156 ‘How do you propose to make your entry?’ ‘Easy as pie. Odd-job man. They always want odd-job men.’

Pearls, Girls & Monty Bodkin (1972) iv. 53 Interesting Llewellyn in Silver River would be pie, but I’d also have to interest her, and she’s not the right woman for that.


hummers (p. 201)

Originally a hummer was someone or something that showed great activity, but by the early 20th century it had also colloquially come to mean someone or something of particular excellence.

Damsel in Distress (1920) xx. 235 Well, you can’t get there quicker than in my car. She’s a hummer.


a wicked ragout (p. 202)

“Wicked” in the slang sense of excellent seems to have come in early in the 20th century. A ragout is a kind of stew or goulash made with meat and vegetables.


the year Bluebottle won the Cambridgeshire (p. 202)

The Cambridgeshire Handicap, run at Newmarket in October, is one of the main races of the horseracing calendar. The horse Bluebottle appears to be fictitious. Wodehouse often avoids committing himself to a date by referring to a horserace.


got in amongst (p. 202)

Annoyed, upset. This sense seems to be peculiar to Wodehouse, and is not recorded in the OED.

Possibly it is a playful variant of “to get [in] amongst the enemy/the opposing team,” an expression Wodehouse might have picked up from reports of rugby matches in his schooldays.


ris de veau à la financière (p. 203)

Veal sweetbreads in a sauce of sherry or madeira.


Schopenhauer ... Pollyanna (p. 204)

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), philosopher, author of The World as Will and Representation, was noted for his pessimism and misogyny.

The eponymous heroine of the children’s story Pollyanna, by Eleanor Hodgman Porter (1868—1920), was noted for her naïve optimism. Mary Pickford starred in the film version released in 1919.


St John’s Wood (p. 204)

Leafy area of Victorian villas near Lords cricket ground in north-west London, much favoured by the more respectable 19th century artists.


dining with the Borgias ... cyanide in the consommé (p. 204–205)

Lucrezia Borgia (1480–1519), daughter of Pope Alexander VI, was notorious for participation in her family’s aristocratic intrigues, including a number of poison plots. Nothing has ever been proved against her, apparently, but it makes for great stories, as Victor Hugo and Donizetti found.

Potassium cyanide is a poison. Consommé is a clear soup – one of the many, many soup synonyms in Bertie’s vocabulary. Elsewhere, Wodehouse used “Strychnine in the Soup” (1932) as the title of a short story.


consommé pâté d’Italie ... (p. 205)

consommé pâté d’Italie – clear soup made with Italian pâté (?) – could this be a misprint for pâtes, i.e. pasta?

paupiettes de sole à la princesse - Paupiettes are strips of sole fillets rolled up into little cylinders. According to A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, A E & D A Bender (OUP, 1995), à la princesse refers to a dish garnished with asparagus tips and truffles or noisette potatoes.

caneton aylesbury à la broche – Aylesbury duckling (a type of white, domestic duck) roasted on a spit


Mr George Travers (p. 206)

Jeeves could be mistaken here. If Uncle George is related to Tom Travers, it is unlikely that he would be Bertie’s uncle (Tom is only an uncle by marriage), and it would be rather an odd coincidence for him to share the surname if they are not related. In any case, evidence elsewhere suggests that Uncle George must be a Wooster.

Adrian Mulliner (a.k.a. David Rosenbaum) summarises the evidence in the Great Aunt/Uncle Mystery thus:

1. In Right Ho, Jeeves (Penguin, 1983 — page 227), we read: “The years rolled away from her, and she was once more the Dahlia Wooster of the old yoicks-and-tantivy days."

Dahlia’s maiden name was Wooster — thus she is Bertie’s father’s sister. Of course, one could claim that not all Woosters are related.

2. In Very Good, Jeeves (Penguin — page 162 – The Love that Purifies), we read: “I now perceived that it belonged to a rather moth-eaten septuagenarian of the name of Anstruther, an old friend of Aunt Dahlia’s late father."

If Aunt Dahlia is Bertie’s father’s sister, her “late father” is also Bertie’s grandfather! Would he not refer to Anstruther as a friend of his own grandfather? Still, this is not conclusive.

3. Also in Very Good, Jeeves (Penguin — page 229 – The Ordeal of Young Tuppy), we read: “In coming to the decision to give this Witherspoon my custom, I had been actuated by several reasons, not counting the fact that having married Aunt Dahlia’s husband’s younger sister, Katherine, he is by way of being a sort of uncle of mine.”

If Tom is the blood relative, Katherine is also, and then Witherspoon is much more than “a sort of uncle”

4. In Jeeves in the Offing (Penguin, 1982 — page 73), we read:

“I could not forget that when I was at Malvern House, Bramley-on-Sea, this relative by marriage had often sent me postal orders sometimes for as much as ten bob.”

I take that “by marriage” settles the whole issue in a most satisfactory manner. In fact, we see now that Bertie was actually quite young — a stripling — when Tom and Dahlia married.

Regarding source 2, we are forced to say that since Bertie needs to explain why Anstruther was at Dahlia’s, he refers to Anstruther’s connection to Dahlia, leaving himself out of the picture, so as not to confuse things.

Just to round off the discussion, it is true that in Carry on, Jeeves in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” there is reference to Mr. George Travers, Bertie’s uncle, who “sorely oppressed him (Bertie) in his youth” This Uncle George also knows Tom, and this would seem to indicate that it is the Traverses to whom Bertie is related. However, I think that in light of the above proofs, we can safely conclude that George and Tom are not related, and George knows Tom solely through the Bertie connection. Finally, I would like to note that Bertie clearly has two “Uncles George”— in Very Good, Jeeves (Penguin — page 223 – Indian Summer of an Uncle), Bertie has to "save” Lord Yaxley — his uncle George Wooster — from a marriage which Aunt Agatha opposes (of course).


Harrogate ... Buxton (p. 206)

Harrogate is a spa town in Yorkshire; Buxton is a spa in the Derbyshire Peak District.


the sword of what’s-his-name (p. 206)

Damocles. In classical mythology he was a courtier of Dionysius the first. At a dinner, Dionysius had a sword suspended over Damocles’s head by a single hair to show him the precarious nature of rank and power.


“half god, half prattling, mischievous child” (p. 209)

Possibly an echo of Pope’s Essay on Man, where this construction appears a number of times, e.g. “Created half to rise, and half to fall” and  “Taught half by reason, half by mere decay”

Another possibility is Browning, The Ring and the Book: “O lyric Love, half angel and half bird,
And all a wonder and a wild desire.”


ask of me what you will even unto half my kingdom (p. 209)

21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
22 and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
23  And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.
24  And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

[Mark 6:21–24 (a similar expression occurs in Esther 5:3 and 7:2)]


eating our bread and salt (p. 210)

Bread and salt are traditional symbols of hospitality, used to welcome guests in many cultures, including ancient Greece. The tradition still survives in countries like Russia and Ukraine. Someone who has eaten your bread and salt is a guest, and is thus under certain obligations to you as host.


parlourmaid ... greengrocer (p. 211)

The Littles’ household is too small to have a full-time manservant, so they normally employ a parlourmaid to answer the door and wait at table. According to Mrs Beeton (1888), a manservant would be paid roughly twice as much as a maid.

It was common for local shopkeepers (who would be free in the evenings and might well have been in full-time service in their youth) to hire themselves out as extra servants.

Suppose you get in cheap-made dishes from the pastrycook’s, and hire a couple of greengrocers, or carpet beaters, to figure as footmen, dismissing honest Molly, who waits on ordinary days. [...] Suppose you pretend to be richer and grander than you ought to be – you are a Dinner-giving Snob.

[W.M. Thackeray, The Book of Snobs, (1846–7) Ch. XIX]


your uncle’s Memoirs (p. 213)

See Jeeves takes charge


matinee (p. 213)

A theatrical performance given in the afternoon. (French: ‘morning’ – actors get up later than the rest of us.)


cylinder ... stenographer (p. 213)

Rosie has dictated the article onto a dictaphone, which records sound on a wax cylinder. Edison’s ‘Ediphone’ and the Columbia ‘Dictiphone’ first appeared in the late 1880s, and the system remained in use until after the second world war, when magnetic tape recorders became available.

A stenographer is a person who transcribes speech into shorthand. Shorthand (the Pittman system was introduced in 1837 and the Gregg system in 1888, although other systems have been in existence since ancient times) is a difficult skill to master; the point of the dictaphone was to allow the expensive stenographer to be replaced by a less-skilled person who could type directly from the recording (what we would now call an audio-typist). Thus Wodehouse is using the term in a less precise sense than the usual one.

Wodehouse describes his own unsuccessful attempt to write by dictating to a stenographer in the preface to Thank you, Jeeves, and in Over Seventy.


police whistles (p. 214)

Before the advent of two-way radio, police officers were provided with a whistle of distinctive tone for summoning assistance.


pekingese dog (p. 215)

Wodehouse owned many pekes over the years: his interest in this breed of dogs seems to have started with his marriage in 1914. Rosie’s pekes also feature in some of the stories in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets.


a policeman and a parlourmaid ... “What’s all this?” (p. 216)

Domestics who dally with the local policeman feature in the plots of several other books. See for example Hot Water and The Mating Season

Policemen in Wodehouse always say “What’s all this?” and “Ho!” This is a running joke throughout the canon, presumably sending up the way the walk-on policemen in plays of the time talk.


the sixteenth instant (p. 217)

The 16th of the present month. A formula often used in official reports and business correspondence, it sounds comically pompous if used in speech.


not a parlourmaid’s place (p. 218)

See p 211 above. Cleaning and dusting would be the job of a housemaid.


immortal rind ... dogs (p. 221)

“Immortal rind” is slang for impudence or cheek. Wodehouse also uses “crust” elsewhere to mean the same thing. The OED records A.M. "Pitcher" Binstead, one of the illustrious members of the Pelican Club, as being the first to use "immortal rind" in print in 1903.

“Dogs” are feet – from rhyming slang “dogs’-meat” Cf. Leave it to Psmith x. 211 You’ll pick up your dogs and run round as quick as you can make it.


Lady Bablockhythe’s Frank recollections of a long life (p. 223)

Bablockhythe is a hamlet on the Thames near Oxford. The pub there has (or had) its own ferry over the river.

Compare Lady Carnaby’s Memories of eighty interesting years (“Jeeves takes charge”) and Lady Wensleydale’s memoirs (referred to by Lord Tilbury in Chapter 1 of Heavy Weather as Sixty years near the knuckle in Mayfair).

Norman Murphy suggests in The Reminiscences of Galahad Threepwood that the original for Lady Carnaby/Wensleydale/Bablockhythe is Adeline de Horsey, countess of Cardigan and Lancastre. She was for many years the mistress of Lord Cardigan of the Charge of the Light Brigade, marrying him after the death of his first wife. After his death, she married the Portugese Comte de Lancastre. Her book My Recollections appeared in 1909.


smelled like a leak in the gas pipe (p. 223)

Before the advent of “natural gas” from the North Sea in the 1960s, piped gas in Britain was produced from coal and had a significant sulphur content, like the Harrogate spa water.


Hurst Park (p. 225)

Racecourse near the Thames in Surrey, also the scene of duels and prizefights in the 18th and 19th centuries, and motorcycle races in the early years of the 20th. Now a housing development. The former grandstand was moved to Mansfield Town’s football ground in the 1960s.


Bertie changes his mind (pp. 228–245)

This story was originally published in 1922. It was published in book form in  Carry On, Jeeves (1925 in UK, 1927 in US). It is the only Jeeves story to be narrated by Jeeves himself (Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves (1953/1954), in which Bertie does not appear, has a third-person narrator).

Page references are to the  1999 Penguin edition of Carry On, Jeeves, in which the story runs from pp. 228–245.


influenza (p. 228)

This story appeared two years after the end of the “Spanish influenza” pandemic of 1918–1920, which is believed to have killed between twenty and fifty million people around the world. (By comparison, World War I claimed nine million lives.)


Emerson (p. 229)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1820–1905), American essayist. The quotation is from his essay on Friendship. Wodehouse may well have plucked this one straight out of Bartlett - he wouldn’t have been likely to read Emerson at school, and it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing he would read for pleasure.


I wish I had a daughter ... My sister will be back from India (p. 230)

This story seems to be Bertie’s only reference to his sister, who is named on p 245 as Mrs Scholfield. Wodehouse himself acquired a ready-made (step-)daughter, Leonora, on his marriage in 1914. 


sang-froid (p. 230)

Poise, equanimity (literally: cold blood).


purple socks (p. 231)

See “A Letter of Introduction” and “Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant” in The Inimitable Jeeves.


spare seats ... Sunbeam ... Wolseley (p. 232)

Apparently this is not Bertie’s usual two-seater (referred to elsewhere as a “Widgeon Seven”), but a larger saloon car or tourer. As today’s black cabs still are, some such cars were provided with backward-facing folding seats against the partition between the front and back seats. The back seat would have been too far away for Peggy conveniently to talk to Jeeves and Wooster if they were both sitting in the front, particularly if it was an open tourer.

The Sunbeam Motor Company was founded by John Marston in Wolverhampton in 1899. In 1920 they merged with Talbot and Darracq, but Sunbeam kept its separate identity, specialising in high-performance cars, until being taken over by Rootes in 1935.

Wolseley cars were made in Birmingham from 1895 to 1975, although the company was taken over by Morris (Lord Nuffield’s group, later to be British Leyland) in 1927. The famous illuminated radiator badge only appeared in the 1930s.


“The Mr Wooster?” “Bertram Wooster” (p. 234)

If you put the stress on the first name, the name “Bertram Wooster” sounds rather like that of the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), some of whose major works on analytical philosophy appeared in the early 1920s. He would have been a plausible friend for Professor Mainwaring although, as someone who had been imprisoned for his pacifist activities during the war and had just been divorced, he might not have been considered a suitable person to address a girls’ school.


extempore (p. 235)

improvised, off-the-cuff.


page boy in a school for young ladies (p. 236)

C. Northcote Parkinson makes much of this rare reference to Jeeves’ youth in his “ghosted autobiography” Jeeves: A Gentleman’s Personal Gentleman (1979).


maids ... parlourmaid (p. 237)

Jeeves is well-aware of the social gulf between mere maids and parlourmaids, of course. In a household without a manservant, a parlourmaid would be employed to answer the door and wait at table (cf “Clustering Round Young Bingo”).


such a lark (p. 237)

We tend to associate “lark” in this sense with Joe Gargery in Great Expectations (“Such larks, Pip...”), but it seems to have been current at least as a slang expression since the beginning of the 19th century. The OED quotes Byron using it in a letter.


Many greetings to you (p. 241)

The song on which this is apparently based was first published in 1893, to a tune by Mildred J. Hill, a schoolteacher, the lyrics written by her sister, Patty Smith Hill, originally being ‘Good morning dear teacher, good morning to you’. This version was used in schools throughout America. Wodehouse has modified the form slightly, presumably to avoid any accusation of plagiarism.

[Patty Smith Hill subsequently republished the song with the new lyrics “Happy Birthday to You” in 1935. In this guise it became a huge hit in the Broadway show As thousands cheer. It remains in copyright, and is believed to bring in a fortune for the present copyright owners, the Warner group.]


Romano’s in the Strand (p. 242)

Romano’s Restaurant at 399 Strand was a favourite resort of the members of the Pelican club in the 1890s. It was opened in the 1840s by Alfonso Nicolino Romano (“the Roman,” d.1901) and survived until the second world war. The building was demolished in 1956 and replaced by an office block (see Chapter 2 of Norman Murphy’s Reminiscences of Galahad Threepwood ).

The Strand is one of London’s main East-West thoroughfares, and in the nineties was still the site of most of the fashionable theatres, restaurants and nightclubs (Shaftesbury Avenue later took over much of this role).

The Law Courts are at the eastern end of the Strand (where it becomes Fleet St), on the northern side. There is a slight southward curve in the Strand, which makes Bertie’s statement at least plausible. According to Murphy, the original bet was made by Shifter Goldberg against the Roman.

The two churches on “islands” in the middle of the road are St Mary-le-Strand (opposite Bush House) and St Clement Danes (near the Law Courts).

A similar piece of inappropriate advice is Monty Bodkin’s handy tip to the young readers of Tiny Tots concerning the amount of water that a whisky bottle can hold (Heavy Weather, Ch. 2).


the one about the stockbroker and the chorus girl (p. 243)

One of the many improper stories that Wodehouse fails to tell us...


tonneau (p. 244)

The rear (passenger) compartment of a car, especially an open car (cf. note to p 232).


"Very good, sir” (p. 245)

As usual, Jeeves has the last word.