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. These notes are by Neil Midkiff, with contributions from others as credited below.

Piccadilly Jim was first published on February 24, 1917, by Dodd, Mead and Company, New York (left image), and in May 1918 by Herbert Jenkins, London (right). It was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post prior to book publication; see this page for details of serial appearances. The serial is transcribed, with its original illustrations, on our site; here is a link to the first episode.

These annotations and their page numbers relate to the Dodd, Mead US first edition, in which the text covers pp. 1–363. (A. L. Burt reprint of US first edition at Google Books.) The chapter titles appear only in the US book, not in the serial nor the UK book.

These notes cover many of the variants between the three original editions in a manner that is intended to be suggestive rather than comprehensive; a complete list of the minor differences in spelling, punctuation, and so forth would be tedious. What is noted here should give a sense of the extent of editorial intervention at each publishing house.

The Dodd, Mead first edition is dedicated “To my step-daughter LENORA conservatively speaking the most wonderful child on earth”: a surprising misspelling of Leonora’s name. The Burt reprint and the UK edition have no dedication.



Chapter 1
A Red-Haired Girl

Mr. Peter Pett, the well-known financier (p. 1)

Mr. Peter Pett is one of the few financiers whom Wodehouse depicted favorably. One respectable colleague is James Schoonmaker (Service with a Smile). But in general the group is described in unflattering terms.

Some financiers are noted for their physical characteristics, especially for being unattractive candidates for marriage to a young lady:

In “The Smile That Wins” (Mulliner Nights) Adrian Mulliner disapproves of Sir Jasper Addleton’s proposed marriage to his Millicent:

In the first place, there was enough of the financier to make two financiers. It was as if Nature, planning a financier, had said to itself: “We will do this thing well. We will not skimp,” with the result that, becoming too enthusiastic, it had overdone it. And then, in addition to being fat, he was also bald and goggle-eyed. And, if you overlooked his baldness and the goggly protuberance of his eyes, you could not get away from the fact that he was well advanced in years.

Terry Cobbold sits “at a table near two financiers with four chins” in Spring Fever, ch. 7.

Mr. Benjamin Scobell, financier and developer of the gambling casino at Mervo in The Prince and Betty, ch. 2, “was a nasty little man to hold despotic sway over such a Paradise; a goblin in Fairyland. Somewhat below the middle height, he was lean of body and vulturine of face. He had a greedy mouth, a hooked nose, liquid green eyes, and a sallow complexion.”

Most of the financiers in Wodehouse, however, are described or shown to be untrustworthy or venal:

Cynthia Drassilis calls Elmer Ford “just an unscrupulous financier, without a thought above money” in The Little Nugget, ch. 1.2.

Geoffrey Windlebird (also known as Dermot Windleband) is a Napoleon of Finance, a “juggler with other people’s money” in A Man of Means who sells shares in empty gold mines, in “The Episode of the Financial Napoleon” (also called “The Bolt from the Blue”)

Mr. Breitstein in Uneasy Money, ch. 1, “had on two occasions only just escaped imprisonment for fraud.”

Bailey Bannister, a young and “frenzied financier” after inheriting his father’s business in The White Hope/The Coming of Bill, ch. 12, seems easy prey for more experienced financiers such as Pinkey, “that sinister buccaneer.”

Jeeves describes Mr. Digby Thistleton, a former employer, as a financier who had no compunction about marketing a failed depilatory as a hair restorer (“Leave It to Jeeves”/“The Artistic Career of Corky”) and used his wealth to buy a peerage, so is now known as Lord Bridgnorth. Another former employer, Mr. Montague-Todd, the well-known financier, is now in the second year of his sentence. (“Bertie Changes His Mind”; both stories are in Carry On, Jeeves.)

Soapy Molloy pretends to be a wealthy financier rather than an oil-stock swindler in Money for Nothing, ch. 10.2, and in Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 19.

Sir Leopold Jellaby, O.B.E., retired financier and stamp collector, gives a low appraisal to Anselm Mulliner’s inherited stamp album in “Anselm Gets His Chance” (Eggs, Beans and Crumpets). His niece Myrtle Jellaby shocks Anselm by suggesting an insurance fraud, but he reminds himself that as “the niece of a prominent financier, she was perhaps entitled to be somewhat eccentric in her views. No doubt, her earliest childhood memories were of coming down to dessert and hearing her elders discuss over the nuts and wine some burgeoning scheme for trimming the investors.”

A financier comes to a bad end in Ring for Jeeves, ch. 11:
   ‘How about that financier fellow, who lives out Ditchingham way—Sir Somebody Something?’
   ‘Sir Oscar Wopple, m’lord? He shot himself last Friday.’

Sir Jasper Todd, retired financier in “Big Business” (A Few Quick Ones) “sits down to ponder on schemes for getting the stuff away from” the young heir of fifty thousand pounds to whom his niece and ward is engaged.

L. P. Runkle cheated Tuppy Glossop’s father of the proceeds of an invention (Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 12) and Jeeves remarks that “the financier is apt to prosper at the expense of the inventor.”

And a few other characters with less than respectable attitudes toward money are tagged with the epithet of “financier” even though that is not their main line of business:

Monk, in A Prefect’s Uncle, ch. 5, charges one hundred percent interest on a loan to Farnie, who thinks that “there were the makings of no ordinary financier in him.”

“There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe.”

Mike (serialized as “The Lost Lambs”)

“A remarkable financier, Ukridge. I sometimes think that he would have done well in the city.”

Love Among the Chickens (1906–09 book editions)

Riverside Drive (p. 1)

A thoroughfare on the upper west side of Manhattan, New York City. Wodehouse uses it as a marker for wealth in The Adventures of Sally (1921/22), in which Fillmore Nicholas takes an apartment there upon inheriting money. Jimmy Pitt looks there for Molly, his as-yet-unknown love-at-first-sight shipmate, in The Intrusion of Jimmy/A Gentleman of Leisure (1910).

leading eyesores (p. 1)

Karen Shotting suggests that the Pett mansion may be an echo of the Charles M. Schwab mansion, built 1902–06 between 73rd and 74th Streets on Riverside Drive. It has been described as “formerly the grandest and most ambitious house ever built on Manhattan Island” and in the Wikipedia article on it as “an eclectic Beaux-Arts mixture of pink granite features.”

We learn in Chapter 21 (p. 312) that Mr. Pett’s house is located north of 100th Street, so Wodehouse was not making a direct reference to the Schwab home, possibly on purpose.

lions … which guard New York’s Public Library (p. 1)

Edward Clark Potter designed the lions, carved of pink Tennessee marble, which have guarded the library since 1911. Initially dubbed Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after the two founders of the library, they were re-christened Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1930s. Wodehouse’s opinion of them as “repulsive” is not widely shared; architecture critic Paul Goldberger called them “New York’s most lovable public sculpture.”

wandering like a lost spirit (p. 1)


It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he [Shoeblossom] took out from the school library a copy of “The Iron Pirate,” and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it.

Mike, ch. 17 (1909)

He wanders around the place like a lost spirit, with a strange, fixed look on his pan, like he was seeing visions or sump’n.

Money in the Bank, ch. 2.1 (1942)

Sabbath calm (p. 2)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

godless (p. 2)

This is the only usage of this adjective so far found in Wodehouse.

little here below (p. 2)

See Love Among the Chickens.

aimed at maintaining a salon (p. 2)

Wodehouse (or his editors) considered this still a foreign word here, although it appears without italics in many other works. Some other women in Wodehouse whose artistic endeavors (or pretensions) lead them to lionize creative types and to host salons and similar gatherings include Mrs. Tom Keith (“The Good Angel,” 1910), Mrs. Waddesleigh Peagrim (The Little Warrior, 1920), Mrs. Willoughby Smethurst (“The Clicking of Cuthbert,” 1921), Lady Constance Keeble (Leave It to Psmith, 1923), Jane Bates (“Jane Gets Off the Fairway,” 1924), Mrs. Carberry-Pirbright (“The Story of Webster,” 1932), Lady Adela Topping (Spring Fever, 1948) and Georgina, Lady Witherspoon (Cocktail Time, 1958). This is not intended to be a comprehensive list.

like the dove in Genesis, no rest (p. 3)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Elmer Ford (p. 3)

First met in The Eighteen-Carat Kid / The Little Nugget (1913).

apoplectic seizure (p. 3)

In modern medical terms, a stroke.

Ogden (p. 3)

Title character of The Eighteen-Carat Kid / The Little Nugget (1913).

the essential Christianity of the poet Shelley (p. 3)

Percy Shelley (1792–1822) is often thought of as an atheist; indeed he was expelled from Oxford in 1811 as the author of a pamphlet on “The Necessity of Atheism.” An interesting online article argues that he was merely advocating the decriminalization of atheism, and that he was if anything a Deist at the time. The article also reprints Shelley’s Essay on Christianity in which he attacks organized religion as not reflecting the original teachings of Jesus, as he understood them.

that ecstatic thrill which only comes to elderly gentlemen of solitary habit who in a house full of their juniors find themselves alone at last (p. 4)

See Bill the Conqueror for other characters with similar attitudes.

plethoric … sallow (p. 5)

Originally, in the ancient medical doctrine of humours, plethoric meant suffering from an excess of blood; more recently, having a ruddy complexion and a full, fleshy body; in modern figurative usage, as here, bulging or swollen. There is a slight conflict with the description of his complexion as sallow, meaning of a sickly yellow or brownish-yellow color.

the shot silenced the enemy’s battery (p. 5)

Figurative usage of military jargon, in which battery means an aggregation of cannon or similar guns.

coffin-nails (p. 6)

Slang for cigarettes; the OED finds it earliest in America, with a Texas citation from 1888, and gives a Wodehouse citation from Money for Nothing (1928), missing this earlier usage, which I have just submitted to them.

goggle-eyed (p. 6)

Having prominent eyes; wearing a staring or amazed look. Some other Wodehouse characters so described include Bellamy (The Luck Stone, 1908), Freddie Threepwood (Something New, ch. 10.4, 1915), Judson Coker (Bill the Conqueror, 1924), Sir Jasper Addleton (“The Smile that Wins,” 1931), and Gussie Fink-Nottle (The Code of the Woosters, ch. 12, 1938). Wodehouse even describes himself as “this goggle-eyed nut” in a Vanity Fair article.

bowling my hoop (p. 6)

That is, rolling a hoop along the ground with the aid of a short stick. I had thought of this as a Victorian-era pastime, perhaps influenced by this reminiscence of Mr. Pett, but the Wikipedia article on hoop rolling has illustrations of it from both ancient times and the era of this book, including a photograph from 1922.

martyr to lumbago (p. 6)

Subject to pain in the muscles of the lower back. Colonel Bodger, in “The Awakening of Rollo Podmarsh” (1923), is similarly afflicted.

Pine Street (p. 7)

Pine Street runs parallel to and one block north of Wall Street in the financial district of New York City. This book seems to have Wodehouse’s only mentions of it, here and in chapter 12.

a window … healthfully open at the bottom (p. 8)


A bat, flitting in the darkness outside, took the wrong turning as it made its nightly rounds and came in through the window which had been left healthfully open.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 10.1 (1969)

red-gold hair (p. 8)

Others with red-gold hair include Mary Anthony (Mrs. Bobbie Cardew) in “Absent Treatment” and Pauline Petite in “Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best” (in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere).

physiognomist (p. 9)

See Bill the Conqueror.

liked having her own way (p. 9)

Jane Martyn, in Company for Henry/The Purloined Paperweight, ch. 8.2, is described as “a spirited girl who likes to get her own way.”

uncle Peter … aunt Nesta (p. 9)

Only in the US book edition are aunt and uncle uncapitalized before their given names. The Saturday Evening Post serial and the UK book have Uncle Peter and Aunt Nesta here and throughout.

Sing-Sing (p. 11)

Formally the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison of the State of New York located at Ossining, New York, some thirty miles north of New York City along the Hudson River. The village of Ossining was originally named Sing Sing as well, a name derived from the Sint Sinck tribe of native Americans from whom the land was purchased in 1685. The prison was built initially in 1826–28. The village changed its name to Ossining in 1901 to avoid confusion with the prison, which seemed to work well until the prison was renamed the Ossining Correctional Facility in 1970, a change which was reversed in 1985.

When this novel originally appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, “Sing Sing” was printed with a space rather than a hyphen, so the hyphen here may be due to the US book editor. The UK book edition also reads “Sing Sing” here.

kidnapped … last time he went to school (p. 11)

As recounted in The Eighteen-Carat Kid and its expansion as The Little Nugget (1913).

Raymond Green … had tripped over a loose stair-rod (p. 12)

Usually the great stair of Blandings Castle is the site of such calamities, more humorous to watch (or to write about) than to experience. This is Raymond Green’s only appearance in the book. A stair-rod, when not loose, holds a carpet in place on a staircase; there is one rod running the width of each step, at the inside angle between step and riser.

Smithers or Smethurst or something (p. 13)

We learn later that his name is Bud Smithers.

People—old ladies, you know, and people—bring him their dogs (p. 13)

A curious way of speaking about old ladies! Perhaps Ann is thinking that the dogs belonging to old ladies are more likely to be overfed and under-exercised.

Mr. McGraw (p. 14)

John McGraw (1873–1934), baseball player and manager, who led the New York Giants from 1902 to 1932. Wikipedia article.

her husband did. They were separated then (p. 15)

Elmer Ford, Ogden’s father, was Mrs. Pett’s first husband.

“Great Godfrey!” (p. 15)

A substitute oath, used instead of “Good God!” Mr. Pett repeats it in chapter 24, p. 349.

Mr. Daniel Brewster uses it twice in the stories collected as Indiscretions of Archie:

“Great Godfrey!” ejaculated Mr. Brewster.

Archie and the Sausage Chappie (1920)

And Mr. Brewster, seeming to recover from some kind of a trance, leaped to his feet.
“Great Godfrey!”

“Mother’s Knee” (1920)

“Great Godfrey!” exclaimed Mr. Rufus Bennett, gazing on the scene from this point of vantage. “Great heavens above!”

Three Men and a Maid/The Girl on the Boat (1922)

a young man in evening dress (p. 15)

At the time, that meant white tie and tails, the obligatory evening attire for males of Mr. Pett’s class at restaurants, concerts, theatres, and social gatherings. Wodehouse calls it the soup-and-fish elsewhere, as below. Of course the young woman “similarly clad” wasn’t wearing a tie and tailcoat, but her evening gown will have been of a similar degree of formality.

sea of troubles … take arms against it … slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (p. 18)

Allusions to Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy.

Apostle of Work (p. 19)

In Indiscretions of Archie, ch. 7, Roscoe Sherriff is “an apostle of Energy”; in Something Fresh/Something New, ch. 11, Joan Valentine thought she was “an advanced apostle of action.” In contrast, Jeremy Garnet tells us that “Ukridge is an apostle of Evasion” in Love Among the Chickens, ch. 22, and Ginger Kemp briefly is an apostle of frivolity in The Adventures of Sally, ch. 14.1.

The UK book edition does not capitalize “work” here, and the Penguin paperback (1969 Linotype Times plates) has the misprint “Apostle to work.”

breach-of-promise case (p. 19)

See Something Fresh.

the nature which generally goes with red hair (p. 21)

Later in this chapter (p. 36) her red hair is blamed for “her deplorable want of balance.” In chapter 26 (p. 360), she is “bound to be quick-tempered with hair of that glorious red shade.”

Among other Wodehouse characters whose red hair is commented upon, we have Jeeves’s judgment that “red hair is dangerous” in a discussion of Bobbie Wickham (“Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” in Very Good, Jeeves). Describing Lottie Blossom in The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 13, we are told that “Red hair and meekness are two things which seldom go together.” Bertie Wooster tells us in Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, ch. 2, that Orlo Porter:

…was a red-headed chap, and my experience of the red-headed is that you can always expect high blood pressure from them in times of stress. The first Queen Elizabeth had red hair, and look what she did to Mary Queen of Scots.

Other redheads are not quite so explicitly characterized, but we may discern a pattern of impulsiveness and unpredictability in characters such as Spike Mullins in A Gentleman of Leisure/The Intrusion of Jimmy; Ginger Kemp in The Adventures of Sally; Billie Bennett in The Girl on the Boat/Three Men and a Maid; Battling Billson in “The Debut of Battling Billson”; Young Thos Gregson in several of Bertie’s stories; Peggy Mainwaring in “Bertie Changes His Mind”; Ricky Gilpin in Uncle Fred in the Springtime; Mabel Murgatroyd in “The Word in Season” and “Bingo Bans the Bomb”; and Butch Carpenter in French Leave; this is certainly not a complete list.

amende honourable (p. 21)

Oddly, the US first edition has the above misspelling, apparently influenced by the British spelling of honour. But in the French language, the word is honorable, and that is the spelling used in the SEP serial and the UK book.

See Thank You, Jeeves for a history of the term, and for Jeeves’s equating it with “olive branch.”

…the only thing Willie had ever invented … was a series of ingenious schemes for living in fatted idleness on other people’s money (p. 22)

A characterization Wodehouse repeated in Bill the Conqueror, in which Cooley Paradene’s “brother-in-law, Jasper Daly, was an inventor whose only successful inventions were the varied methods he discovered of borrowing money.”

“You can call Jimmy Crockers from the vasty deep, but will they come when you call for them?” (p. 23)

Ann knows her Shakespeare. This is the only reference so far found to a passage in Henry IV, Part One; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

grand-stand play (p. 24)

Once again the hyphen is unique to the US book; the SEP serial and UK book have “grandstand” here. The term is an American idiom from sports, for flashy game play designed primarily to draw applause from the spectators; in generalized use, referring to behavior calculated to gain someone’s approval.

in his sister’s book-shelf (p. 24)

The US serial and UK book have “on his sister’s bookshelf” here, so the heavy hand of the editor at Dodd, Mead & Co. seems to be apparent once again.

three cheers and a tiger (p. 25)

This tiger, in American slang, is a final exclamation or scream following a series of ordinary cheers; the OED says it sometimes was a yell of the word “tiger” and gives citations from 1845 through 1904.

a bad sailor (p. 26)

That is, inclined to seasickness.

joy-ride (p. 26)

A trip in an automobile or airplane taken purely for pleasure. Fairly new American slang at the time of writing; the OED has citations beginning in 1909.

Adonis (p. 29)

Norman Murphy’s note in A Wodehouse Handbook cannot be improved upon: “A young man in Greek mythology who was too good-looking for his own good.”

scenario (p. 29)

See Sam the Sudden.

a narrow strip of forehead … separating his front hair from his eyebrows (p. 29)

Compare the description of Bat Jarvis:

There was an indescribable air of toughness about him, partly due to the fact that he wore his hair in a well-oiled fringe almost down to his eyebrows, which gave him the appearance of having no forehead at all.

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 4

cauliflower ear (p. 30)

An ear which has been thickened and distorted by blows received in boxing. The OED cites Wodehouse in its first listing under the phrase, even though the word order is different: “My right ear feels like a cauliflower.” [Dunstable, in The White Feather, ch. 5 (1907), after a brawl with boys from the town] and also gives a later usage from Wodehouse’s 1928 play Good Morning, Bill. A 1909 citation from another author in the Saturday Evening Post gives the phrase in quotes as a neologism: “It was the ‘cauliflower ear’ of pugilism.”

Other Wodehouse uses in his early writing:

He then brought his right round with a thud on to what the latter probably still called his ear—a strange, shapeless growth rather like a leather cauliflower—and sprang back.

“A Job of Work” (1913)

He had the foundations of a cauliflower ear.

“The Colour Line” (1920)

He swung forcefully and felt Joe’s cauliflower ear yield squashily under his fist.

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 21 (1924)

Celestine had been born Maggie O’Toole (p. 30)

Mrs. Pett seems to think that giving a French name to her Irish maid will fool others into thinking that she has a fashionable French maid. It clearly doesn’t fool Jerry.

He spends his whole time wandering about till he finds some one he can torment (p. 31)

Not so noted by Fr. Rob in Biblia Wodehousiana, but this may be a conscious or unconscious echo of a Biblical reference to the devil:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

Bible: 1 Peter 5:8

Miss Ann possessed a mind of no common order (p. 32)

A probable echo of W. S. Gilbert:

Yet his must be a mind of no common order, or he would not dare to teach my dear father to dance a hornpipe on the cabin table.

Josephine, speaking of Sir Joseph in H.M.S. Pinafore, act I

part-human (p. 32)

Once again, the hyphen seems to be inserted by the Dodd, Mead editor; SEP serial and UK book read “part human” here.

She lives miles from anywhere and has family prayers at seven-thirty sharp every morning. (p. 33)

The sentence is omitted in the SEP serial, but is present in both US and UK book editions.

See Bill the Conqueror for other references to family prayers.

to try and persuade (p. 33)

In the SEP serial and the UK book, the more formal equivalent “to try to persuade” appears here. Wodehouse was clearly comfortable with the idiomatic use of “try and”; it appears over a hundred times in the Madame Eulalie transcriptions, so in this case it may well be that the SEP and Jenkins editors changed Plum’s original text.

cutting a wide swathe (p. 33)

The SEP serial and the UK book have the more usual spelling of swath here, and the citations in the OED for the phrase all use swath, so this may be an idiosyncrasy of the Dodd, Mead editor. The phrase literally refers to the path of grass or grain cut by the user of a scythe or mowing machine; in US slang since the mid-nineteenth century, it is figurative for acting conspicuously or conceitedly, showing off, swaggering.

the National … the N. S. C. (p. 34)

See Something Fresh for more on the National Sporting Club.

tanked (p. 34)

See Bill the Conqueror.

soup-and-fish (p. 34)

See Right Ho, Jeeves. [Omitted in SEP serial.]

a dirty deuce in a clean deck (p. 34)

That is, a worn or soiled card of the lowest value, a two-spot, in an otherwise pristine pack of cards. [Omitted in SEP serial.]

The earliest use of a similar phrase so far found is in “The Wooing of Widow McCann” by Frank H. Mayer, in a July 1904 pulp magazine called The Black Cat:

Sure and the ‘Kid’ made them look like a dirty deuce in a clean pack up there in the Superstitions.

mazuma (p. 34)

Originally US slang for money; a borrowing from Yiddish mezumen meaning cash. The OED has citations beginning in 1900.

health farm (p. 35)

A rural establishment where a regimen of sensible diet, fresh air, and exercise was available, for training athletes or for restoring the health of those who were ill, overweight, flabby, or dyspeptic. See the notes to “How Kid Brady Broke Training” (1905) for one real-life model of this sort of thing, William Muldoon’s White Plains, New York health farm.

Chapter 2
The Exiled Fan

Grosvenor Square (p. 40)

Developed in the early eighteenth century in the heart of London’s Mayfair district, with substantial houses around a square garden park, this was indeed among the most desirable locations for a London residence. Four of the works of Oscar Wilde make references to the square.

Pittsburg (p. 41)

Wodehouse learned this spelling of the city while on his initial visits to the United States. In 1890 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names had ruled that all place names ending in -burgh should henceforth be spelled with a -burg ending. Though the residents of the Pennsylvania city had successfully petitioned for the restoration of the original spelling of Pittsburgh by 1911, Wodehouse sometimes continued to use the shorter version in his later works, and it appears thus in the US book edition. The editors of the SEP serial and the UK book corrected the spelling to the traditional Pittsburgh.

at-home (p. 41)

A social gathering at one’s home, typically in the afternoon, to which invited guests may drop in for conversation and refreshments at any time during the stated hours. The earliest OED citation is from 1745; the term is marked as infrequent in current use.

Premier (p. 41)

Another term for Prime Minister; more common at the time of writing than today.

Axminster (p. 41)

Axminster is a town in Devon, overlooking the River Axe which opens into the English Channel at Axmouth. It is famous for a style of carpet, still made there. There is no duchy of that name in real life, of course.

a stall at her bazaar (p. 41)

Wodehouse had fun with this type of fund-raising for charity, in which “it is only to be expected that at a bazaar in aid of a deserving cause the prices of the various articles on sale will be in excess of those charged in the ordinary marts of trade.” [“Buttercup Day” (1925)]

It was at a charity bazaar that Isabel and Clarence first met. Isabel was presiding over the Billiken, Teddy Bear, and Fancy Goods stall.

“The Pitcher and the Plutocrat” (1910)

He cursed the fate which had taken him to the charity bazaar at which he had first come under the notice of Lady Kimbuck.

“The Episode of the Hired Past” (1914)

The Trotter female, who sat on his right, endeavoured to entertain him with a saga about Mrs. Alderman Blenkinsop’s questionable behaviour at a recent church bazaar…

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 11 (1954)

“I got lugged into attending a charity bazaar down Wimbledon way, and there was a fortune-teller there, operating in a tent…”

Barmy in Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 2 (1952)

It was at a charity bazaar at a house called Balmoral on Wimbledon Common that love came to [Augustus Mulliner], for it was there that he saw Hermione Brimble and fell with a thud that could have been heard as far off as Putney Hill.

“The Right Approach” (in A Few Quick Ones, 1959)

The Duchess of something had been opening a bazaar at Wimbledon in aid of a deserving charity…

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 2 (1960)

Indigent Daughters of the Clergy (p. 41)

A wholly fictitious charity, of course, but not an outlandish one, as typically clergymen were not themselves wealthy; the Church was one of the respectable occupations for younger sons of the upper classes, and by custom a family estate would pass undivided to the eldest son.

baseball and cricket (p. 41)

Wodehouse, himself brought up on cricket, seems to have become fascinated by baseball and by the American infatuation with it on his first trip to New York in 1904. See his article “Baseball” written for the British Vanity Fair; at that time he did not know what Americans generally thought about cricket.

In “Brother Fans” (1914), J. Wilmot Birdsey, another American exiled in London by the whim of his wife, “loved baseball with a love passing the love of women, and the prospect of never seeing a game again in his life appalled him.” At an exhibition game in London played by the White Sox and the Giants, he avoided “bovine Britons who might have compelled him to assault and battery by comparing baseball to its disadvantage with cricket.”

“Say!” (p. 43)

Wodehouse seems to use “Say” (as an interjection or as the opening word of a speech) as a marker for American dialect. See also p. 53 below, and Bill the Conqueror.

His master’s voice (p. 43)

See Ice in the Bedroom for the origin of the phrase. Here it refers to the obedience of a servant to his employer rather than the recognition by a dog of his owner’s recorded speech.

earlier Summer months (p. 43)

Wodehouse is clearly using Summer in its meteorological sense here rather than its astronomical sense, in which Summer begins at the summer solstice, on or about June 20.

Ruth … Israel in bondage (p. 43)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the miner’s dream of home (p. 43)

Title of an 1891 music-hall song written by Will Godwin and Leo Dryden; see the Wikipedia article on Dryden for more, including lyric excerpts. This 1912 recording by Thomas Price is one of several at YouTube. Sheet music online from the New York Public Library.

three thousand miles (p. 43)

In fact the great-circle distance between New York and London is slightly over 3,450 miles.

the Polo Grounds (p. 43)

There had been several sports venues in Manhattan under this name; for a detailed history, see Wikipedia. In Piccadilly Jim, this refers to a stadium built in 1890 and rebuilt after a 1911 fire, owned and used by the New York Giants baseball team of the National League, but also the home field of the New York Yankees (American League) from 1913 to 1922. So in 1917, baseball and the Polo Grounds would have been nearly synonymous to a New Yorker.

The stadium was also used for football beginning in the 1920s, and hosted the New York Mets baseball team’s first two seasons before Shea Stadium opened in 1964, after which the Polo Grounds stadium was torn down.

Lord’s (p. 43)

See Psmith in the City.

the Oval (p. 43)

See Lord Emsworth and Others.

more to be pitied than censured (p. 45)

See Leave It to Psmith.

sticky wicket (p. 45)

See “Cricket Explained” on the Wodehouse Society website for an overview of the game. Most specifically, the wicket is the arrangement of three vertical wooden posts (stumps) and two horizontal spindles (bails) balanced atop the stumps, which the bowler tries to dislodge and the batsman tries to protect. But in this term, “wicket” is generalized to the ground—the turf, as Bayliss explains here—between the bowler and the batsman.

took first knock (p. 46)

Chose to bat first, rather than taking the field while the other team batted.

opening pair … short run … mid-on (p. 46)

The first batsmen of their team, one at each end of the pitch; after a ball is batted, they run to opposite ends of the pitch if the batsman thinks they can make it in time. Mid-on is one of the fielding positions.

stumped (p. 46)

Having had his wicket knocked over by the ball.

second slip (p. 47)

A member of the fielding team, standing roughly behind and to the side of the batsman’s wicket.

googly (p. 47)

A ball which is spun by the bowler in such a way that it bounces in a direction opposite from the usual.

Home-Run Baker (p. 47)

John Franklin Baker (1886–1963), American baseball player, third baseman with the Philadelphia Athletics 1908–1914 and the New York Yankees 1916–1919 and 1921–1922. He led the American League in home runs from 1911 to 1914.

snorted like a war-horse (p. 47)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Rounders (p. 49)

For the rules of Rounders and a comparison with softball and baseball, see the Wikipedia article. The description there suggests that the rounders ball is hard and that it is hit with a bat rather than a racquet, so Bayliss may be familiar with a variant form of the game.

grey uniform (p. 50)

The New York Yankees adopted their distinctive home uniform in white with vertical pinstripes in 1915; at the Polo Grounds they would not have worn their “away” uniform in gray. Based on incomplete information, it appears that the Giants may well have had a similar white-at-home, gray-on-the-road uniform design. So if Bingley Crocker is recalling a game at the Polo Grounds, the New York team must be at bat and the pitcher must be from the visiting team.

Salome dance (p. 50)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Masked Marvels (p. 50)

This alludes to a wrestler whose identity was concealed by a cloth mask covering his face and head, one of five wrestlers featured in exhibition bouts at the Manhattan Opera House, as described in The Literary Digest, February 5, 1916. This Masked Marvel was the lightest in weight of the five by at least thirty pounds, but notable for being trained superbly in both body and mind, and “his strength in proportion to his size is the strength of Hercules.” A silent motion picture featuring him in a wrestling match, then removing his mask to reveal his identity, was released by Selig on August 21, 1916.

In the baseball game, of course, the two masked marvels are the catcher and the umpire, the only two on the field who wear face masks.

An exile from home splendour dazzles in vain (p. 51)

This is the second stanza of “Home, Sweet Home,” a lyric by John Howard Payne (1791–1852) from the 1823 opera Clari, or the Maid of Milan with music by Sir Henry Bishop.

Lambs Club (p. 51)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

a snapper-up of … small character-parts (p. 51)

An allusion to Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

flying wedge of waiters (p. 52)

The flying wedge originally dates from ancient military strategy, and was an American football tactic beginning about 1892, in which, as Norman Murphy explained in A Wodehouse Handbook, “the rules allowed one side to grab the ball, form a solid block of the whole team with the ball in the middle, and just march up the field in wedge-formation.” Due to deaths and serious injuries the formation was banned in 1894.

for which the selected restaurant is justly famous (p. 52)

“Jack’s” restaurant at Sixth Avenue and 43rd Street in Manhattan, opposite the Hippodrome, opened 1891 by John Dunston or Dunstan (1853–1927) and closed in 1925 during Prohibition.

But the proprietors and waiters tremble when the college youths enter the sacred portals. College youths are prone, as every one knows, to feel their oats especially around 15 o’clock in the morning, after a few beakers of white rock. “Jack” found it necessary, in the interest of the peace and good order of his establishment—he is a stickler for the proprieties—to institute what is known on the asphalt of Broadway as the “Order of the Flying Wedge.”
 It appears … that one evening last week, when the clock in the tower of the Metropolitan Building told the wayfarer that it was past 3 a. m., “Jack” found it necessary to call the “flying wedge” into action, as a party of college boys had got beyond bounds.

Brooklyn Citizen, March 7, 1914, p. 6

youth as sacrifices to … Moloch (p. 52)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a wretched mummer (p. 53)

From the medieval groups of traveling actors performing traditional plays in private houses, the term mummer became slang in the late eighteenth century for an itinerant or incompetent actor.

goods and chattels (p. 53)

A stock legal phrase, comprising all sorts of personal property.

“Say, lemme tell ya something.” (p. 53)

See p. 43, above.

walk-over (p. 53)

See Summer Lightning.

Lord Lieutenant (p. 54)

At the time of writing, Ireland was part of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801–1922); the Lord Lieutenant was the British sovereign’s representative in Dublin (often referred to as the Viceroy) and governor (head of the executive branch of the Irish government). The office was generally held by members of the English aristocracy, sometimes as a means of getting unwelcome politicians out of London, but at other times a stepping stone for an advancing career. The office was abolished at the time of Irish independence in 1922.

the Carlton (p. 54)

See A Damsel in Distress.

left-scissors hook (p. 55)

This may be a reference to the “left half scissors hook” described by boxer Battling Nelson, who gave his sobriquet to Wodehouse’s Battling Billson. Nelson’s serialized memoir in the San Francisco Call, February 5, 1909, describes the blow as painful, “almost paralyzing in its effect,” and delivered “with thumb and forefinger on top of my opponent’s liver.”

generous in his contributions to the party funds (p. 55)

If we did not suspect it before, this comment seems to make clear that Mrs. Crocker is attempting to buy a peerage for her husband. I have no idea whether any American was elevated to the aristocracy on those terms in real life. [NM]

young Lord Datchet (p. 55)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Empire Music-Hall (p. 55)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Boat-Race night (p. 55)

See The Code of the Woosters.

eventual successor to a title (p. 56)

Modern readers might suspect that a purchased peerage would be a life peerage rather than a hereditary one, but other than a few judges ex officio, life peers did not exist until the Life Peerage Act 1958.

Saul of Tarsus … sudden bright light (p. 56)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Birthday Honours (p. 57)

See Heavy Weather.

Lord Crocker (p. 59)

A form of address applicable to any rank from Baron up through Marquess, but not Duke.

Lord Bingley Crocker (p. 59)

Not a style which Bingley needs to anticipate, as it would be applicable to the younger son of a duke or marquess.

Lord Crocker of Crocker (p. 59)

This is a puzzlement; let me [NM] know if you have information on this style of address.

Chapter 3
Family Jars

blobby (p. 61)

A rare adjective in Wodehouse. Jno. Horatio Biggs, Mayor of Tooting East in “The Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner), has “one of those beastly blobby squashy sort of faces” according to Clarence Mulliner. Wodehouse described his own face in “Photographers and Me”: “The nose is blobby, the eyes dull, like those of a fish not in the best of health.”

yellow shoes (p. 62)

Although some shoe leather was given a yellow dye in tanning, this might possibly be a way of referring to the natural yellow-brown color of undyed leather, commonly used in casual footwear.

Gotham (p. 62)

Originally referring to a village whose inhabitants were proverbially foolish; later a humorous nickname for New York City. (The “Gotham City” where Bruce Wayne resides in the Batman comics and films did not come along until 1939.)

drove of Petts (p. 63)

The collective noun is usually applied to a large group of animals such as cattle or sheep being driven to a new location. Wodehouse’s word choice may imply that there seemed to be a large number of Petts, or that they were being led in a sheeplike fashion.

She did not covet Eugenia’s other worldly possessions (p. 64)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a wet cat in a strange back-yard (p. 64)

Cats in unaccustomed situations are a frequent simile for Wodehouse characters in an apprehensive state. See Uncle Fred in the Springtime for the specific phrase “a cat in a strange alley.”

Since his arrival, he had worn the furtive and anxious look of a cat in a strange yard.

The Prince and Betty (US magazine version), ch. 14 (1912)

[Vladimir Brusiloff’s] eyes were visible through the undergrowth, and it seemed to Cuthbert that there was an expression in them not unlike that of a cat in a strange back-yard surrounded by small boys.

“The [Unexpected] Clicking of Cuthbert” (1921/23)

I gave the couple the wary up-and-down, feeling like a cat in the middle of a lot of hounds.

“Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

the pennant race (p. 64)

In Major League Baseball, the contests for the baseball championships of the American League and the National League. The winners of the two pennants then compete in the World Series.

Giants (p. 64)

The New York Giants of the National League were founded as the New York Gothams in 1883, changed their name to the Giants in 1885, and moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season.

the baseball fan who in a strange land unexpectedly encounters a brother (p. 65)

As in Wodehouse’s story “Brother Fans” (1914)

Matty (p. 65)

Christy Mathewson (1880–1925), pitcher for the New York Giants 1900–1916.

souper (p. 65)

Slang for “soup bone” which is itself slang for the arm, specifically Mathewson’s pitching arm. Green’s Dictionary of Slang has two citations for this from 1919, but Wodehouse here is using it two years earlier.

shut out (p. 65)

Pitched a baseball game in which the opposing team makes no runs.

Cubs (p. 65)

The Chicago Cubs have represented their city in the National League since 1903 under that name; they were founded in 1876 as the White Stockings, not to be confused with the American League team known as the Chicago White Sox.

halfpenny morning paper (p. 66)

From the price we can deduce that this was a newspaper of popular appeal, such as the Daily Mail, founded in 1896 and priced to put it in strong competition with other London dailies which cost one penny at the time. Later we learn that this paper was eagerly read by the domestic staff (p. 81), but that Mrs. Crocker did not read the halfpenny papers (p. 89).

Old Home Week (p. 67)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

mob-scene (p. 67)

A scene in a film or play depicting a large crowd, especially a noisy or agitated group.

pretending to be dead, like an opossum (p. 68)

Never better explained than by Bertie Wooster in “Jeeves and the Old School Chum” (1930; in Very Good, Jeeves):

One of the first lessons life teaches us is that on these occasions of back-chat between the delicately nurtured, a man should retire into the offing, curl up in a ball, and imitate the prudent tactics of the opossum, which, when danger is in the air, pretends to be dead, frequently going to the length of hanging out crêpe and instructing its friends to stand round and say what a pity it all is.

hewn from the living rock (p. 69)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

London dude (p. 71)

See Leave It to Psmith.

scourge the offending Adam out of him (p. 72)

See Biblia Wodehousiana. Fr. Rob even notes a Shakespeare allusion in the wording of this phrase.

setting herself as it were for the punch (p. 74)

Wodehouse was himself a boxer in his youth, and boxing terms are frequent in his fiction. He uses this figure of speech both in an offensive sense, preparing to strike a blow, as here, and also in a defensive sense, as of being prepared to receive a blow:

And then he got it—suddenly, when he wasn’t set for the punch; and he rocked back on his heels.

“Leave It to Jeeves” (1916; as “The Artistic Career of Corky” in Carry On, Jeeves, 1925)

a languid yawn (p. 74)

The US first edition book has the typo “lanquid” here.

shot in her locker (p. 75)

See The Luck of the Bodkins.

cortège (p. 76)

Although this word is currently encountered most often in relation to a funeral procession, the OED definition and citations do not mention this association, defining the term as “a train of attendants, or of people in procession.” Still, Wodehouse’s use of “mourners” in the next sentence does indicate that he intended the term to allude to the death of Mrs. Pett’s hopes of prevailing over her sister.

a gentle drive in the Park (p. 77)

When spelled with a capital P and in the context of London, this is almost always a reference to Hyde Park.

Chapter 4
Jimmy’s Disturbing News

These are the times that try men’s souls (p. 78)

See The Mating Season.

healing liquids (p. 80)

Many of Wodehouse’s characters look on alcoholic beverages as having healthful or restorative properties; see Sam the Sudden for a short list. In the case of a hangover like Jimmy’s, though, the “hair of the dog” treatment most likely will only postpone the effects of the previous night’s indulgence, and may even make them eventually worse.

See also p. 106, below.

yestreen (p. 81)

See Bill the Conqueror.

halfpenny morning paper (p. 81)

See above.

Six Hundred Club (p. 81)

Apparently fictional. Wodehouse may have borrowed it from Edgar Wallace, whose 1915 novel The Man who Bought London includes the sentence “Vera was a member of the Six Hundred Club, and to this exclusive establishment the party went.”

went to the mat (p. 81)

More usually a phrase associated with a wrestling match than with boxing or any sort of fist-fighting.

Chapter 5
The Morning After

sprigs of nobility (p. 84)

A sprig, in this instance, means an offshoot or small branch: literally of a tree or bush; figuratively of a family tree. The newspaper headline certainly applies to Lord Percy Whipple, younger son of a duke, but is over-generous in including Jimmy Crocker, whose father is not a peer despite Mrs. Crocker’s ambitions.

Battling Percy (p. 85)

The newspaper writer probably borrowed this sobriquet from the real-life Battling Nelson, just as Corky and Ukridge did for Battling Billson in “The Debut of Battling Billson.”

Cyclone Jim (p. 85)

Wodehouse also used this nickname for other fighters:

Cyclone Al Wolmann, in Psmith, Journalist (1909/15)

Cyclone Josephs, in “When Doctors Disagree” (1911)

Cyclone Dick Fisher, a renaming of Cyclone Al Wolmann, in ch. 18 of the US version of The Prince and Betty (1912)

Steve Dingle calls the young Bill Bannister “The Sixty-First Street Cyclone” in ch. 14 of The White Hope/The Coming of Bill (1914/20)

Cyclone Mullins, in ch. 13.1 of The Adventures of Sally (1921/22)

welter-weight (p. 86)

Spelled without a hyphen in the Saturday Evening Post serial. This weight class in boxing, with an upper limit of 147 pounds, was officially established in 1909 by the National Sporting Club as a division between lightweight (maximum 135 pounds) and middleweight (maximum 160 pounds) classes. Since the time of this book, finer divisions of the weight classes have been established.

The UK editions of Piccadilly Jim read “middle-weight” here, for unknown reasons.

mazzard (p. 87)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Fitzsimmons’ shift (p. 87)

Referring to Robert James “Bob” Fitzsimmons (1863–1917), British boxer, world champion variously as a middleweight, heavyweight, and light-heavyweight. The shift mentioned is more than merely sidling around the table, but is a technical term for combining a forward stride with a punch to give it more power. Various web resources define it in different ways; here is one with illustrations.

haymaker (p. 88)

A boxing punch delivered by swinging the whole arm from the shoulder, with little bending of the elbow; the name comes from the resemblance to manually cutting hay with a scythe.

as rocky and ding-basted as stig tossed full of doodlegammon (p. 88)

A curious phrase indeed! In the SEP serial and UK book editions, doodle-gammon is hyphenated.

Our colleague Karen Shotting has researched the history of this phrase, which dates back to 1895 in American newspaper dialect, and seems to have been coined and subsequently used merely as high-sounding nonsense. The variant forms indicate that it had not become standard in the language. The original article in the Quincy, Illinois Daily Herald, May 24, 1895, reported on a baseball game between the Omaha Omahogs and the Quincy Browns:

Everything was yellow, rocky, and whang-basted like a stigtossel full of doodle-gammon.

Many papers quoted or misquoted it immediately, and reprints cropped up at intervals over the years. Various word substitutions can be seen in these examples from among many, getting somewhat closer to the source that Wodehouse must have seen:

Everything was yellow, rock, and whangbasted like stigtossel full of doodle-gammon.

Chicago Chronicle, June 2, 1895;
Minneapolis Tribune, June 9, 1895

Everything was yellow, rocky, and wang-basted like a stigtossel full of doodle-gammon.

Washington [D.C.] Times, June 4, 1895

Everything was yellow, rocky, and whang-basted like stigtossel full of doodle-gammon.

Sedalia [Mo.] Democrat, June 12, 1895

Everything was yellow, rocky, and whangbasted, like a stigtossel full of dogglegammon.

Buffalo Commercial, June 21, 1895

Everything was yellow, rocky, and whangbasted like a glass full of doodle-gammon.

Buffalo Courier, July 28, 1895 and several other papers

Everything was yellow, rocky and whangbasted like a stigtossed full of dogglegammon.

Los Angeles Times, Aug. 5, 1895

Everything was yellow, rocky, and whangblasted, like a stigtossel full of doodle-gammon.

Holbrook [Neb.] Observer, May 26, 1910

Everything was yellow, rocky, and whangbasted like stig tossed full of doodlegammon.

Sioux City [Ia.] Journal, June 9, 1915 and many other papers

Karen gave a fuller report, including echoes of the phrase in magazines and letters, in an article in Plum Lines, v.37, no.1, Spring 2016 (article opens in new window or tab). She noted that since both Jimmy Crocker and his father Bingley Crocker are avid baseball fans, Wodehouse hit the nail on the head in choosing this phrase from the sports pages.

“Ding-basted” as a euphemism for “damned” is older, with citations and variants in Green’s Dictionary of Slang and in newspapers from 1882 onward. But does not find it as a variant in the baseball account, nor can Google searches find the phrase “ding-basted as stig” prior to Piccadilly Jim. My tentative conclusion [NM] is that Wodehouse probably substituted ding-basted for whang-basted.

a headache which starts at the soles of my feet and gets worse all the way up (p. 89)

Reggie Tennyson had a similar complaint:

I have rather a severe headache. It starts somewhere down at the ankles and gets worse all the way up.

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 2 (1935)

[The SEP serial and UK book editions have “a headache that starts” here.]

lesser sand-eel … buries itself tail upwards … baying of the eel-hounds (p. 89)

The lesser sand eel (Ammodytes tobianus) is a real-life fish which does burrow itself in sand (rather than mud) if alarmed, as well as regularly spending the day buried, coming out at dusk to feed. The “tail upward” (or “upwards” in the US book only) and “baying of the eel-hounds” are apparently flights of fancy on Wodehouse’s part; no source for these has so far been found.

benevolent neutrality (p. 89)

At the time of writing, the United States of America had not entered the First World War, but its foreign policy was not one of strict neutrality; America had a stance of greater good will with the Allied powers (principally Britain and France) on matters such as trade. The term “benevolent neutrality” described this relationship, which was later superseded by armed neutrality and then actual entry into the war.

looked out onto a blank wall (p. 90)

Thus in SEP serial and US book; UK book editions including Penguin 1969 paperback have the apparent typo “blank walk” here.

an honourable (p. 90)

The courtesy style of “The Honourable” is used before the names of certain members of the nobility, including the younger sons of earls (such as The Hon. Frederick Threepwood) and their wives, and the sons and daughters of viscounts and barons, as well as the wives of the sons.

that liberty and pursuit of happiness to which the Constitution entitles a free-born American (p. 90)

Wodehouse had lived some years in the USA at the time of writing, but he did not become a US citizen until 1955. Presumably in studying for his naturalization he would have learned that the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is in the Declaration of Independence rather than in the Constitution.

a wild night on the moors (p. 91)

This seems to be a Wodehouse coinage; at least no earlier instance of the phrase has so far been found. He returned to it in Fish Preferred/Summer Lightning, ch. 3.7 (1929):

She was the human equivalent of those pink drinks you went and got—or, rather, which you used to go and get before a good woman’s love had made you give up all that sort of thing—at that chemist’s at the top of the Haymarket after a wild night on the moors.

raising Cain (p. 91)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Cholmondeley … Marjoribanks (p. 92)

Wodehouse clearly enjoyed the idiosyncratic pronunciations of upper-class British family names such as these, pronounced “Chumley” and “Marchbanks” respectively.

you would have the title after me (p. 92)

See p. 56, above.

I’m not asking a lot of you (p. 92)

Thus in SEP serial and US book; UK book editions including Penguin 1969 paperback have the apparent typo “saving a lot of you” here.

Slip me the info’! (p. 93)

The apostrophe appears in the US book but not in the SEP serial or the UK book. We probably can learn more from this about editorial intervention than about Wodehouse’s preference; see Sam the Sudden for other instances where editions differ in punctuating this abbreviation.

kiss-in-the-ring (p. 93)

See The Luck of the Bodkins. Wodehouse had earlier referred to it as an elementary children’s game in “Entertaining for the Young” (1915).

’twas a famous victory (p. 94)

“And everybody praised the Duke
 Who this great fight did win”—
“But what good came of it at last?”
 Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”

Robert Southey: After Blenheim, 61–66.

Wodehouse cites other stanzas of this poem in Sam the Sudden and The Girl in Blue.

save in the way of kindness (p. 94)

The man that lays his hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is a wretch whom ’twere gross flattery to name a coward.

From The Honey Moon, an 1805 play by John Tobin (1770–1805).

Wodehouse alluded frequently to this maxim:

The man who lays a hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is justly disliked by Society; so the woman Muspratt, culpable as she was, was safe from me.

Love Among the Chickens, ch. 15, in 1906, 1909, and 1921 book editions but not in US magazine serial

“The man who lays a hand upon a woman,” said Jimmy, paddling strongly, “save in the way of kindness—— I’m very sorry, Molly, but you didn’t seem able to make up your mind.”

The Gem Collector, ch. 11 (1909)

The man who lays a hand upon a woman save in the way of kindness is justly looked askance at by society.

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 5.6 (1924)

“Do you think,” he cried passionately, “that the real Aubrey Bassinger would raise a hand to touch a rat, save in the way of kindness?”

“Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court” (1929; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1930)

He was regretting that a gentle and chivalrous upbringing, with its insistence on the fact that the man who lays a hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is a man who ought to be ashamed of himself, rendered it impossible for him to give this blot on the Kentish scene the slosh in the eye for which her whole scheme of behaviour seemed to clamour.

Jeff Miller, thinking of Dolly Molloy in ch. 13 of Money in the Bank (1941)

Bingo is a pretty chivalrous chap and one who, wind and weather permitting, would never lay a hand upon a woman save in the way of kindness, but if somebody at that moment had given him a blunt knife and asked him to skin Nannie Byles with it and drop her into a vat of boiling oil, he would have sprung to the task with his hair in a braid.

“The Shadow Passes” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)

The man who lays a hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is rightly looked askance at and viewed with concern, but Mr. Lehman could have named three on whom he would have been delighted to lay the heaviest of hands.

Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 7 (1952)

He seemed to her like one of those men who never lay a hand upon a woman save in the way of kindness, and someone of that sort was what, if she had been a literary critic, she would have said that she most desiderated.

Jill Willard, thinking about Horace Appleby, in Do Butlers Burgle Banks?, ch. 11 (1968)

Parodied in “The Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28):

And no photographer worthy of the name will ever lay a hand upon a woman, save to raise her chin and tilt it a little more to the left.

contemporary accounts (p. 94)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

the Good Old Man in melodrama (p. 94)

[Sturgis] had always been just the same—frail and venerable and kindly and dried-up. He looked exactly like the Good Old Man in a touring melodrama company.

Money for Nothing, ch. 9.1 (1928)

Lord Emsworth had sunk back in his chair and was looking like the Good Old Man in old-fashioned melodrama when the villain has foreclosed the mortgage on the ancestral farm.

Galahad at Blandings, ch. 3.4 (1965)

She left the room, and Lord Emsworth sank back in his chair looking like the good old man in some melodrama of Victorian days whose mortgage the villain has just foreclosed.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 1.3 (1969)

Chapter 6
Jimmy Abandons Piccadilly

Cleveland Row (p. 97)

A short street running between the west end of Pall Mall nearly to Green Park in London; a very exclusive address, since for much of its length it runs along the north side of St. James’s Palace.

lived each day as it came in the spirit of the Monks of Thelema (p. 98)

In Gargantua by Rabelais, the abbey of Thelema is established in a satirical reversal of the rules of traditional religious orders; for instance, instead of the ordinary vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, it was appointed that the Thelemites “might be honourably married, that they might be rich, and live at liberty.” The sole rule of their order was “Do What Thou Wilt.”

All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it.

Wodehouse’s reference has nothing to do with the later “Abbey of Thelema” founded by occultist Aleister Crowley in 1920, except that Crowley borrowed the name from the same source.

We are all individualists till we wake up. (p. 98)

The passage that concludes with this sentence is among the very few spots in Wodehouse’s fiction which are tinged with serious philosophy. It is pleasant to realize that he considered the “jig-saw puzzle” of humanity as something more than a framework for farcical plots, even though those are more often cited as the reason we read his books.

Cockspur Street (p. 99)

A short street in the City of Westminster, London, connecting the southeast end of the Haymarket with Trafalgar Square. Number 1 Cockspur Street was then the office of the White Star Line, and is still named Oceanic House. The Hamburg-Amerika House at Nos. 14–16 housed the Hamburg America Line. The Cunard Steam Ship Co., Ltd., was at Nos. 29, 30, and 31.

Atlantic (p. 100)

Once a real ship of the White Star Line, whose ships had names ending in -ic, but not one that was in operation at the time of this novel. The SS Atlantic began operating the Liverpool–New York run in 1871 but sank on her 19th voyage in 1873 after striking rocks off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Boat-train leaves Paddington (p. 101)

This is a puzzlement. Trains from London to Liverpool usually departed from Euston Station on what was at that time the London and North Western Railway, and is today the West Coast Main Line. Wodehouse himself would have been more familiar with Paddington as it serves trains to Shropshire and to Cheltenham; his parents lived for a time in each of those locations.

Prudence came at the eleventh hour (p. 101)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a warm admirer of the sex (p. 102)

“The sex” as shorthand for “the female sex” dates from 1589 but is no longer in common use.

the Regent Grill (p. 103)

See Ukridge.

drug-store at the top of the Haymarket … pink drink (p. 103)

Karen Shotting’s article “Jeeves’s Pick-Me-Up Recipe?” (Plum Lines, Summer 2018, p. 13) quotes Norman Murphy as identifying Harris’s, the chemist in St. James’s Street, as the purveyor of a “Pick Me Up” hangover cure.

My Little Grey Home in the West (p. 104)

When the golden sun sinks in the hills
And the toil of a long day is o’er
Though the road may be long, in the lilt of a song
I forget I was weary before
Far ahead, where the blue shadows fall
I shall come to contentment and rest;
And the toils of the day will be all charmed away
In my little grey home of the west.

There are hands that will welcome me in
There are lips I am burning to kiss
There are two eyes that shine just because they are mine,
And a thousand things other men miss
It's a corner of heaven itself
Though it’s only a tumble-down nest,
But with love brooding there, why, no place can compare
With my little grey home in the west.

Hermann Frederic Löhr and D. Eardley-Wilmot My Little Grey Home in the West (song, 1911)

A YouTube video has the sheet music scrolling as the song is performed by a male singer with piano accompaniment.

corn on the cob and soft-shelled crabs (p. 105)

Characteristic of American cuisine, of course, and at that time practically unknown in Britain. Wodehouse mentioned corn on the cob at least three other times:

“Noodle-soup-bit-o’-weakfish-fried-chicken-Southern-style-corn-on-the-cob-bit-o’steak-fried-potatoes-four-fried-eggs-done-on-both-sides-apple-dumpling-with-hard-sauce-and-a-cup-of-custard,” he observed rapidly.

“A Job of Work” (1913)

But of the great American institutions—ice water, direct primaries, New Jersey mosquitoes, the Woolworth Building, George M. Cohan, chop suey, rubberneck wagons, bunts, Matty, silver-tongued orators, Yellowstone Park, the Pennsylvania Station, corn on the cob, and Eva Tanguay—he was completely ignorant.

Uneasy Money, ch. 2 (US edition, 1916)

“What would you call a country where you can’t get ice, central heating, corn-on-the-cob, or bathrooms?”

The Girl on the Boat, ch. 9.2 (1922) [KS]

bill-of-fair (p. 105)

A typographical error in the US edition only; both the SEP serial and the UK book have “bill of fare” here: a term which has been largely discarded in favor of “menu.”

“Jimmy Crocker is a worm!” (p. 106)

The small capitals emphasizing the last word appear only in the US book.

It might have been the voice of Conscience. (p. 106)

See Bill the Conqueror, and p. 324, below.

partly as a restorative (p. 106)

See healing liquids above.

the stout boy … surrounded fish-pie (p. 107)

Like “get outside” this is a humorous inversion of the process of getting food or drink inside oneself. See The Inimitable Jeeves for more.

La Bohême, the loudest item in its repertory (p. 107–08)

All three original editions use the circumflex accent, which is correct in French, as in Henry Murger’s book Scènes de la Vie de Bohême which served as a basis for the Puccini opera. But the opera—which is not a particularly loud one—is in Italian, so its title should be spelled La bohème.

His Majesty’s Theatre (p. 108)

Built 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree on the Haymarket in London’s West End; noted for both Shakespeare productions and premieres of works by contemporary playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw, J. B. Priestly, and Noël Coward, as well as large-scale musicals from Chu Chin Chow to The Phantom of the Opera. Since the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, of course, it has been known as Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Savoy (p. 108)

See Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

Cheshire Cheese (p. 108)

See Bill the Conqueror.

a noiseless sovereign (p. 108)

A gold coin of one pound sterling, bearing the image of the current monarch. To account for inflation from 1917 to 2020, the equivalent purchasing power today would be about £71 based on the Bank of England inflation calculator, or roughly $95 in US dollars. Jimmy is putting it down noiselessly because he doesn’t want to be noticed as he leaves the restaurant; changing the adverb to an adjective applied to the coin is another example of a transferred epithet.

registered renunciation (p. 108)

For register, see Right Ho, Jeeves. Here Jimmy is indicating with a gesture that he does not want any change from his pound coin.

took up the coin and bit it (p. 108)

See A Damsel in Distress.

to pull some bone (p. 110)

Originally US baseball slang from the early 1910s, meaning to make a mistake, especially one that results in losing a game. Contemporary with the equivalent boner which maintained its currency longer in the language; Wodehouse had Bertie Wooster confess that he had “made the boner of a lifetime” in Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 13, in 1971.

all things work together for good (p. 110)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

trucks (p. 114)

That is, handcarts or dollies for moving baggage; not motor vehicles for the street.

Jimmy clove the crowd (p. 114)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

flying-wedge (p. 114)

See above.

unequal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation (p. 115)

See A Damsel in Distress.

There was the right stuff in him. (p. 117)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Chapter 7
On the Boat-Deck

Sandy Hook (p. 119)

This narrow spit of New Jersey juts into New York Harbor and holds the oldest operating lighthouse in America, built in 1764 as a marker for the harbor and a guide to avoiding shipwrecks.

Queenstown (p. 120)

An Irish seaport town, renamed Cobh in 1920 during the drive for Irish independence, on an island in the harbor of Cork city. It was a port of call for transatlantic ships of the White Star Line, and had been the last port on the voyage of the Titanic in 1912.

Eve … Adam … Garden of Eden (p. 120)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Plimsoll law (p. 120)

See Heavy Weather.

Rollos and Clarences and Dwights and Twombleys (p. 120)

Wodehouse seems to have intended these as the sort of names given by upper-class families to their sons. The last two especially are used by Plum in American contexts; see Thank You, Jeeves for many Dwights and one Twombley. See “A Job of Work” (1913) and “The New Disease” (1916) for mentions of two other American Twombleys. In addition, a cartoon character in the Doughnut family named Twombley is only in the American version of “Concealed Art”; he is omitted from the British version.

Compare the “Reggies, Berties, Claudes and Archies” visiting Blandings Castle in Leave It to Psmith.

walking with Rolly (p. 121)

A typo in the US book. The SEP serial and the UK book have “Rollo” here.

ministering angel (p. 122)

See Heavy Weather.

watches of the night (p. 122)

See The Clicking of Cuthbert.

marriage … sensible partnership (p. 128)

Reminiscent of J. Hamilton Beamish’s booklet on “The Marriage Sane” in The Small Bachelor (1926).

Carrots (p. 128)

Spike Mullins in A Gentleman of Leisure/The Intrusion of Jimmy, ch. 5, has red hair which had probably inspired the same nickname.

bears … the children who criticized Elisha (p. 128)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

The US book erroneously substitutes “Elijah” here.

“New York is open for staying in about this time” (p. 128)

There is probably an as yet unfound literary source for this locution, as Wodehouse seemed to be fond of it:

“This study is open for having words in at about this hour.”

“Pillingshot’s Paper” (1911)

the Pacific was open for being stared at about that time

Introduction (“Fore!”) to The Clicking of Cuthbert (1922)

“If Bingley-on-Sea is not open for being sniffed in at this season,” said Frederick coldly; “I should have been informed earlier.”

“Portrait of a Disciplinarian” (1927, in Meet Mr. Mulliner)

“Rio is open for being rolled to at this season, I presume?”

Big Money, ch. 1 (1931)

“This road is open for being pottered in at this hour, I believe.”

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 7.2 (1948)

“I believe Rowcester Abbey is open for being groaned in at about this hour, is it not?”

Ring for Jeeves, ch. 5 (1953)

As the saloon bar was open for saying Egad in at that hour, Mr. Morrison made no further comment.

Cocktail Time, ch. 18 (1958)

“I believe Brinkley Court is open for starting in at about this hour, is it not?”

Jeeves in the Offing, ch. 20 (1960)

“Why not? I believe,” said Kirk Rockaway a little stiffly, “that San Francisco is open for being gone to at about this time.”

“Stylish Stouts” (1965; in Plum Pie, 1966)

Chapter 8
Painful Scene in a Café

Park Row (p. 133)

A street in Manhattan, New York City, in the financial district, Civic Center, and Chinatown. In the early 20th century the New York City Hall and the skyscraper office buildings of the New York World, New York Tribune, and New York Times newspapers were located there, although the Times had moved to Times Square before this book was written.

the canyon of Nassau Street (p. 133)

Also in New York City’s financial district, proceeding northeasterly from the junction of Wall Street and Broad Street, running roughly parallel to Broadway as far as Spruce Street near City Hall. It is a narrow street, so the tall buildings along it give it the resemblance to a canyon. (In the SEP serial and the UK book, the Spanish spelling “cañon” is used here.)

wandering on some foreign strand (p. 134)

A slight misquotation from Sir Walter Scott: see The Inimitable Jeeves.

High though his titles … concentred all on self (p. 134)

More from the same canto from Scott: see Bartleby for the full stanza. Scott wrote “all in self” and the SEP serial has it correctly thus, but both US and UK book editions read “on self” here.

dear old rag (p. 134)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

taking seisin (p. 135)

An Anglo-French legal term for taking possession of real property.

Doughnut family (p. 135)

In the American version of “Concealed Art” (1915), the comic adventures of the Doughnut family appear in the New York Gazette.

muck-raked (p. 136)

The figurative sense of muckraking, referring to searching for scandal in the manner of an investigative journalist, was a fairly recent American coinage; the oldest citation in the OED is from 1895, but the term first became common around 1905.

The hyphen appears only in the US book; both the SEP serial and the UK book simply spell it “muckraked.”

letter-press (p. 137)

That is, the typeset text of the article. The word appears without a hyphen in SEP.

nuance (p. 137)

Even though the term had been borrowed from French into English as early as 1781, it is italicized in all three original editions, so Wodehouse (or his editors) apparently continued to think of it as a foreign word.

seeing ourselves as others see us (p. 137)

See A Damsel in Distress.

priests of Baal who gashed themselves with knives (p. 138)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the flesh-pots of London (p. 139)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Once again, the hyphen is only in the US book edition; SEP and UK book have “fleshpots” here.

he was a by-word (p. 139)

A common saying or proverb, a much-discussed subject. Hyphenated only in the US book.

space rates (p. 139)

Payment for contributions to a periodical from an outside writer, not on the staff, calculated by the area of print (such as the column inch) rather than by the word.

Prodigal Son stuff was all very well (p. 140)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

passim (p. 140)

A borrowing from classical Latin, meaning “at various unspecified places, here and there in a source text.” Usually found in footnotes and bibliographies when it would be tedious to note each instance of a term.

Grand Central (p. 141)

The Manhattan terminal of the New York Central Railroad at 42nd Street and Park Avenue, originally built 1871 as the Grand Central Depot and much expanded in 1900 as the Grand Central Station. The current building, dating from 1913, is properly called “Grand Central Terminal,” but the second name is still commonly used. A subway station is part of the building as well.

westward along Forty-second Street to the hotel (p. 141)

This may very well be the Knickerbocker Hotel at Broadway and 42nd Street, built 1901–06 as the first luxury hotel in Times Square. Wodehouse had mentioned it earlier:

The resources of the Knickerbocker Hotel had proved equal to supplying the fatigued staff of Cosy Moments with an excellent dinner…

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 22 (1910/15)

It is a pleasant spot, the vestibule of the Knickerbocker Hotel.

“Ahead of Schedule” (US version, 1911)

“Meet me at the Knickerbocker at eleven-fifteen.”

“Pots o’ Money” (US version, 1912)

The hotel closed in 1920 and the building was converted to offices; after a renovation it reopened as a hotel in 2015 under its original name.

“…what are your impressions of our glorious country?” (p. 142)

A parody of the questions that newspaper reporters would ask arriving celebrities before they even disembarked.

As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour, and the first American interviewer, jumping on board, said, “Wal, sir, and what are your impressions of our glorious country?” so did Mr. Downing feel at that moment.

Mike, ch. 52 (1909)

“And what are your impressions of our glorious country?” said Sally, rallying.

The Adventures of Sally/Mostly Sally, ch. 8.2 (1921/22)

Delmonico’s (p. 142)

One of several New York City restaurants operated by the Delmonico family, starting on William Street in lower Manhattan in 1827; the location at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street was open from 1897 to 1923.

Classified Telephone Directory … red book (p. 144)

The use of the title “Yellow Pages” for the classified phone directory seems to have been rare before about 1940.

Adjuster (p. 144)

Though the job title can be applied to various specific tasks, the term is most commonly used in the insurance industry for one who determines the amount of a settlement for a claimed loss or damage.

Celluloid, Fiberloid, and Other Factitious Goods (p. 145)

In general, factitious here means artificially made, not natural. Celluloid was one of the first manmade plastic materials, a mixture of nitrocellulose with camphor; it was used for everything from billiard balls to motion-picture film. Fiberloid was a trademark for another synthetic ivory material, used for combs and other dressing-table goods.

Drop Forger … forging drops (p. 146)

One who operates a machine that shapes hot metal using a heavy weight which drops repeatedly onto the workpiece: the automated equivalent of a blacksmith’s hammer. Nothing to do with forgery in the sense of making a falsified document or item.

Kalsomine (p. 147)

A water-based thin paint, similar to whitewash.

Bachelors’ Club (p. 147)

A real-life London club; one of the sources from which Wodehouse later developed the fictional Drones Club. See Leave It to Psmith.

Bayliss, the whole Bayliss, and nothing but Bayliss (p. 147)

An echo of the formula for swearing in court witnesses to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

stout denial (p. 147)

See Summer Lightning.

All that he had ever heard and read about doubles came to him. (p. 149)

Thus in the SEP serial and the UK book. The US book has an awkward longer version which doesn’t sound like authentic Wodehouse to me; can this be an insertion by the Dodd, Mead editor?

It was a perfectly astounding likeness, but it was apparent to him when what he had ever heard and read about doubles came to him.

fight it out on those lines if it took all summer (p. 149)

See If I Were You.

restore his nerve centres (p. 149)

See Bill the Conqueror.

a change into something new and strange (p. 150)

Possibly a glancing allusion to a passage from The Tempest; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more complete quotations of the lines.

“Some are born Jimmy Crockers, others have Jimmy Crockers thrust upon them.” (p. 150)

This time the quotation from Twelfth Night is clearer; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

“no, ‘he’ is right.” (p. 151)

Ann is correct; since the verb is “aren’t” (a form of “to be” and thus a linking or copulative verb) it is formally correct to use the nominative (or ‘subject’) form of the pronoun as the predicate.

Mr. Rockerfeller (p. 153)

Thus in the US book only, here and on p. 199; either a typo or a transparent attempt to avoid the exact name of a prominent person. In the SEP serial and the UK book, it is spelled Rockefeller. The probable reference is to John D. Rockefeller Sr. (1839–1937), founder of the Standard Oil Corporation, and by this time a retired philanthropist.

It was, as the advertisements say, distinctively individual. (p. 154)

See Ukridge.

the exiguous forehead (p. 154)

A rather unusual word meaning small, scanty; see the earlier description of Jerry Mitchell.

on the wagon (p. 154)

American slang for abstaining from alcohol, dating from 1906 in OED citations; a shorting of the earlier phrase “on the water wagon.”

Chapter 9
Mrs. Pett Is Shocked

vers libre poets (p. 158)

Free verse: poetry that does not have a fixed rhythmic pattern or rhyme-scheme.

Lora Delane Porter (p. 159)

Introduced in The White Hope/The Coming of Bill (1914/20); also appears in “A Prisoner of War” (1915).

bucking the line (p. 160)

The act of a football player in breaking through a line of the defending team.

the suffrage (p. 160)

Short term for women’s right to vote, which would be achieved in the USA with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. In the UK, a 1918 act enfranchised women over 30 who owned a certain amount of property; in 1928 this was extended to all women over 21, on the same terms as men.

See O, Woman! Wodehouse, the Globe, and the Suffragettes for Plum’s earlier journalistic work relating to the suffrage movement.

dude (p. 161)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Her growing up and becoming a beauty had always been a perplexity to him. (p. 161)

Compare Sinclair Hammond’s attitude toward his niece Felicia Sheridan in Bill the Conqueror, ch. 1.4 (search for the phrase “always this way with girls”) and see the annotations for Bill the Conqueror for a probable parallel in Wodehouse’s own family life.

“Admission on presentation of visiting card.” (p. 161)

Reminiscent of Katisha’s boast about the beauty of her right elbow in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado: “It is on view Tuesdays and Fridays, on presentation of visiting card.”

“Oh, we were only in London a few hours.” (p. 167)

This statement by Mrs. Pett is hard to reconcile with Ann’s statement in chapter 6 (p. 108) about having “seen Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and His Majesty’s Theatre and the Savoy and the Cheshire Cheese.”

the last trump (p. 172)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

with a wild surmise (p. 172)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

A boy’s best friend is his mother. (p. 172)

“A boy’s best friend is his mother,” said Archie approvingly.

“The Man Who Married a Hotel” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

“Well, a boy’s best friend is his mother.”

Sam in the Suburbs/Sam the Sudden, ch. 13 (1925)

A boy’s best friend is his mother.

“The Man Who Gave Up Smoking” (1929; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929/30)

“A boy’s best friend is his mother, don’t you sometimes think?”

Heavy Weather, ch. 10 (1933)

Just as a boy’s best friend is his mother, so is a policeman’s prop and stay the chairman of the local bench of magistrates.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 13.1 (1948)


A mother’s best friend is her boy.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 21 (1954).

Chapter 10
Instruction in Deportment

feast of reason and flow of soul (p. 173)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Lillian Russell (p. 175)

Stage name of Helen Louise Leonard (1860–1922), an American singing actress famous for her beauty as well as her musical and dramatic talents.

“Can it!” (p. 175)

Once again Wodehouse is using the freshest American slang. The OED’s first citation for this command to “shut up” is from 1915.

a cipher … in the home (p. 176)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

a sort of machine for altering the shape of noses (p. 177)

In Summer Moonshine, ch. 24 (1937), Prudence Whittaker confesses to having ordered, from a magazine advertisement, a thing to be worn during sleep for changing the shape of her nose.

the agility of the chamois which leaps from crag to crag (p. 178)

See Sam the Sudden.

Chapter 11
Jimmy Decides to Be Himself

Nemesis (p. 179)

In Greek mythology, the goddess of retribution or vengeance.

grip (p. 179)

Shortened form of gripsack: a piece of luggage, small enough to be carried by its handle in one hand while walking.

on Ninety-seventh Street between the Drive and Broadway (p. 179)

This locates the boarding-house fairly accurately, as there are only two blocks, a distance of about 250 meters, between Riverside Drive and Broadway along 97th Street.

the first fine careless rapture (p. 179)

See Something Fresh.

the spiritual solar plexus (p. 181)

A figurative term for a sensitive spot in one’s emotional or mental makeup; for the physical solar plexus, see The Luck of the Bodkins.

“The fact that we cannot meet without your endeavoring to plant a temperamental left jab on my spiritual solar plexus encourages me to think that you are beginning at last to understand that we are affinities.”

“Ruth in Exile” (1912)

His brow was furrowed and he had the indefinable look of one who has been smitten in the spiritual solar plexus.

“Rodney Fails to Qualify” (1924)

one who has been searching for the leak in Life’s gaspipe with a lighted candle (p. 181)

He had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gas-pipe with a lighted candle…

“The Man Who Disliked Cats” (1912)

He mooned about the links by himself, playing a shocking game, and generally comported himself like a man who has looked for the escape of gas with a lighted candle.

“Wilton’s Holiday” (1915)

The face was drawn, the eyes haggard, the general appearance that of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gaspipe with a lighted candle.

The Old Reliable, ch. 18 (1951)

Now that he had succeeded in obtaining Freddie’s attention, Judson became a little calmer, though still presenting the appearance of a man who has rashly looked for a leak in a gas pipe with a lighted candle.

“Life with Freddie” (in Plum Pie, 1966)

His aspect was that of one who has been looking for the leak in a gas pipe with a lighted candle.

The Girl in Blue, ch. 11.5 (1970)

His air in consequence was that of a man who has been trying to locate a leak in a gas pipe with a lighted candle.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin/The Plot that Thickened, ch. 12 (1972)

“Curtains!” (p. 181)

For this slang term for “the end” (as the closing of a stage curtain signals the end of a play), the OED has one noun citation from 1912, and next this Wodehouse quotation, the first citation where it is used as an exclamation.

half-portion Bill Taft (p. 181)

Jerry is referring to the fat boy Ogden Ford as a smaller edition of William Howard Taft (President of the United States 1909–13), whose weight in the later years of his presidential term was at least 335 pounds (152 kg).

beezer (p. 181)

See Hot Water.

lost my goat (p. 182)

This slang term for losing one’s temper had a brief vogue in the 1910s, mostly in sporting circles; it was a variant of “getting someone’s goat” (causing them to lose their temper), which has remained popular to the present day. The OED has no entry for it, but Green’s Dictionary of Slang has entries including this from Wodehouse:

“And then the gong goes, and I says to myself how I has one friend, my poor old mother way out in Wyoming, and I goes in and mixes it, and then I seen Benson losing his goat, so I ups with an awful half-scissor hook to the plexus, and in the next round I seen Benson has a chunk of yellow, and I gets in with a hay-maker, and I picks up another sleep-producer from the floor and hands it him, and he takes the count all right.”

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 10 (1909/15)

personnel (p. 182)

Italicized only in US book, so treating it still as a loan-word from French seems to have been the choice of the Dodd, Mead editor.

dyspeptic millionaires (p. 183)

Wodehouse apparently considered a bad digestion to be a frequent consequence of riches. Among the well-to-do characters with stomach trouble are J. G. Butterwick (Heavy Weather, 1933, and The Luck of the Bodkins, 1935), J. B. Duff (Quick Service, 1940), T. Paterson Frisby (Big Money, 1931), Mr. Meggs (“A Sea of Troubles”, 1914), J. Preston Peters (Something Fresh/Something New, 1915), Uncle Tom Travers (passim), and L. G. Trotter (Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, 1954).

Cuthbert (p. 183)

A name that apparently appealed to Wodehouse. In addition to J. Cuthbert Banks (“The Clicking of Cuthbert”), the Rev. Cuthbert “Bill” Bailey (Service with a Smile), Captain Cuthbert Gervase Brabazon-Biggar (Ring for Jeeves), the Rev. Cuthbert Dibble (“The Great Sermon Handicap”), the late Cuthbert Mannering-Phipps (“Extricating Young Gussie”), Cuthbert Price (A Pelican at Blandings), Henry Cuthbert Purkiss (Bingo Little’s boss at Wee Tots in several stories), James Cuthbert Smithson (“Fame”), Cuthbert Wickham (“Dudley Is Back to Normal”), Wodehouse also used the name as a stand-in for an unknown man or boy, as in “On Being Photographed,” “The Small Gambler,” and “The Scourge of the Golf Child.” As Jimmy does here for Jerry, Ukridge uses Cuthbert as a jocular nickname for Jeremy Garnet in Love Among the Chickens, ch. 2. In magazine versions of Leave It to Psmith, Miss Peavey refers to Psmith as Cuthbert in her final scene.

In the US version of “Ukridge’s Dog College” the cat used by Ukridge as a bait to recover his Pekes is called Cuthbert. In magazine versions of “Jeeves Takes Charge” Bertie Wooster interprets Jeeves’s sympathetic look on first meeting him as seeming to say “Courage, Cuthbert!” Bertie refers to Aunt Jane Pringle’s cat as Cuthbert in “Without the Option”; another Cuthbert the Cat is mentioned in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril.” Bertie refers to his scarlet sash as Cuthbert the Cummerbund in “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count.”

refused to be comforted (p. 183)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

balls everything up (p. 184)

Originally American slang for clogged, tangled, confused; OED has citations from Mark Twain and George Ade, among other US authors read by Wodehouse. Not etymologically related to “balls up” from the mid-20th century in Britain; no testicular reference intended here.

raise Cain (p. 184)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a statuette of the Infant Samuel (p. 185)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

“Jerry Mitchell daren’t face you” (p. 185)

Thus only in US book; SEP serial and UK book have “didn’t dare face you” here.

Wissahickon, Pa. (p. 185)

A neighborhood of northwestern Philadelphia, originally a separate village founded in the nineteenth century, named after a creek which runs through the area.

Correspondence School of Pictorial Art (p. 185)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

registering baffled rage (p. 187)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

hep (p. 188)

See Money for Nothing.

once aboard the lugger (p. 188)

Norman Murphy (A Wodehouse Handbook) identified this as a phrase from Victorian melodrama, spoken by the villain planning to abduct a young woman: “Once aboard the lugger, and the maiden’s mine!” (A lugger was a small sailing vessel.) The phrase came originally from The Gipsy Farmer (1846) and was revived in My Jack and Dorothy in 1889.

Wodehouse had alluded to it in “The Fifteenth Man” (1906) and The Luck Stone, ch. 13 (1908).

Caronia (p. 191)

A steamship of the Cunard Line, in service on the Liverpool–New York run from 1905, but also used for Mediterranean cruises and for transatlantic service to Boston. The Caronia, though, had been requisitioned by the British government for war service in August 1914 and was not making passenger runs in 1916 when this novel first appeared serially.

New England boiled dinner (p. 191)

A one-pot meal, combining corned beef, cabbage, and a selection of root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and onions.

We shall meet at Philippi (p. 191)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Chapter 12
Jimmy Catches the Boss’s Eye

he had to use a pencil and a sheet of paper to show himself just where he stood (p. 192)

Bertie Wooster does the same in Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 13, and Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 24.

a cipher in his own home (p. 193)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Of all sad words of tongue or pen… (p. 194)

See Leave It to Psmith.

the iron entered into her soul and she refused to be comforted (p. 194)

See Biblia Wodehousiana and Sam the Sudden.

“Everbody works but father!” (p. 197)

A popular song with words and music by Jean Havez, published in 1905. Sheet music online at Duke University Libraries. YouTube video, refrain sung by Groucho Marx.

catch the boss’s eye (p. 199)

They all looked deuced keen and businesslike, as if from youth up they had been working in the office and catching the boss’s eye and what not.

“Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg” (1917; in My Man Jeeves, 1919, and Carry On, Jeeves, 1925)

“I laugh that I may not weep” (p. 199)

And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
 ’Tis that I may not weep;…

George Gordon, Lord Byron: Don Juan, Canto IV, iv (1828)

a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done (p. 199)

See Money in the Bank.

Mr. Rockerfeller (p. 199)

See p. 153, above.

The little bit of work I shall do won’t make any difference. (p. 200)

“I said I didn’t want any money, and the little bit of work I would do wouldn’t make any difference, so he said ‘Right ho!’ or words to that effect, and here I am.”

Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior, ch. 14.2

more sinned against than sinning (p. 201)

Quoting King Lear; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

scatter light and sweetness (p. 201)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime for the background of “sweetness and light”—the spreading of which was a frequent goal of Pongo Twistleton’s Uncle Fred (Lord Ickenham).

In vain! in vain! We scatter light and sweetness,
 Yet on the deepening gloom we gaze surprised;
For something in our efforts lacks completeness,
 And Satan will not thus be exorcised.

Lady Charlotte Elliot: “Darkness before Dawn” in Medusa and Other Poems (1878)

Ev’ry day with much completeness
I am scatt’ring light and sweetness…

“Have a Heart” (Wodehouse lyric for a Jerome Kern song, from Have a Heart, 1917)

With the best intentions, meaning only to scatter light and sweetness on every side, he had become a Sugar-Daddy Surprised In Love Nest.

“Fate” (1931; in Young Men in Spats, 1936)

“You know me, Berry, old man. Young, enthusiastic, dripping with joie de vivre, only needing a balance at the bank to go out and scatter light and sweetness and—mark you—scatter them good.”

Lord Biskerton in Big Money, ch. 10.1 (1931)

If there was one thing this good man liked, it was scattering light and sweetness, and today, it seemed to him, he was about to scatter light and sweetness with no uncertain hand.

Galahad Threepwood in Full Moon, ch. 7.3 (1947)

“As one passes through this world, one strives always to scatter light and sweetness and to promote the happiness of the greatest number, and here everybody will be pleased.”

Mike Cardinal in Spring Fever, book I, ch. 7 (1948)

and protect the poor working-girl—like Heaven (p. 201)

Alluding to a 1909 song “Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl,” popularized by Marie Dressler, lyrics by Edgar Smith, music by A. Baldwin Sloane.

Wodehouse also referenced this phrase in the last line of the refrain of the title song from Have a Heart (see previous note):

And like Heaven, I’ll protect the working girl.

registering (p. 202)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Chapter 13
Slight Complications

They left the subway at Ninety-sixth Street and walked up the Drive (p. 204)

Then as now, the subway in question runs beneath Broadway, two blocks east of Riverside Drive.

Aida, Mrs. Pett’s Pomeranian (p. 205)

Presumably named after the heroine of Verdi’s opera of the same name. Both the SEP serial and the UK book spell it with a diaeresis as Aïda, to indicate that the two opening vowels are pronounced separately, as ah-ee-dah, rather than as a diphthong, as ay-dah.

Most of the toy dogs in Wodehouse’s fiction are Pekingese, as many of his own dogs were. Lady Catherine Duseby, recalled by Keggs in A Damsel in Distress, owned a toy Pomeranian, as do Mabel Petherick-Soames’s mother in “The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner”, Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke in Thank You, Jeeves, and Loretta Stickney Pound in The Purloined Paperweight/Company for Henry, but we never learn the names of these four.

perfect sixty-six (p. 206)

A pun on the “perfect thirty-six” description of an ideal female figure, as in “The Perfect 36” by Montague Glass, a 1909 Saturday Evening Post story about a clothing model.

learn how to be an electrical engineer or something by mail … teach you anything from sheet metal working to poultry raising (p. 207)

It seems likely that Wodehouse had seen advertisements from the International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, Pa. An ad from Popular Science Monthly, January 1920, has a different tag line and copy, but the coupon has check boxes to select information on being an electrical engineer, a sheet metal worker, and on poultry raising. The school was still advertising in the same magazine in the 1960s when I was reading it as a boy.

eulogy (p. 213)

See Bill the Conqueror.

snatched up a hat (p. 215)

We often forget today that at this time, no one with any pretensions to dignity would be seen bare-headed outdoors in public.

Chapter 14
Lord Wisbeach

Carnegie (p. 216)

Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919), Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist, whose Carnegie Steel Corporation was one of the companies which merged in 1901 to form the United States Steel Corporation. By the time of this book, he had retired from business and devoted his efforts to supporting education, public libraries, and other charitable works.

swallow-tails (p. 219)

That is, a formal tailcoat. See May Wilson Preston’s illustration (opens in a new browser tab or window) from the Saturday Evening Post serial.

straight forward (p. 219)

Only the US book has this as two separate words; the SEP serial and the UK book have the more common “straightforward” here.

thrown his cue (p. 219)

Theatrical jargon: a cue is the signal for an actor to begin a particular speech, typically the last line of another actor’s previous speech.

Ulysses and the hound Argos (p. 221)

In Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus (often called by his Latin name of Ulysses) returns to Ithaca after a twenty-year absence fighting the Trojan wars and making his way home through many adventures, his elderly dog Argos, on the point of dying, is the only one to recognize his disguised master, and has just enough strength left to wag his tail and move his ears.

Chapter 15
A little business chat

picric acid and trinitrotoluene (p. 224)

Picric acid is a yellow crystalline solid, 2,4,6-trinitrophenol, used in explosives, as an antiseptic, and as a dye for silk and wool. An ammonium salt of picric acid is a more powerful explosive than TNT (trinitrotoluene) but is less stable.

trochaic spondee (p. 225)

At first this seems an oxymoron, since a trochee is a measure of poetic form with one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable, and a spondee is a measure with two stressed syllables. But Asa Humphrey, in The English Prosody (1847) uses the term trochaic spondee for an intermediate case in which nearly-equal stresses are on the two syllables of a measure in trochaic verse.

It is unclear to me whether Wodehouse would have been familiar with this refinement of terminology, or (probably more likely) intended to portray Clarence Renshaw as a foolish pretender to his art.

his tissues and their restoration (p. 225)

See Bill the Conqueror.

“Who ran to help me when I fell?” (p. 226)

See The Luck of the Bodkins for the poem by Jane Taylor of which this is the sixth stanza, except that the original concludes with “My mother” instead of Skinner.

little ray of sunshine (p. 227)

See Bill the Conqueror.

pop bottles (p. 227)

The OED has citations dating back to 1848 for this term for bottles containing a carbonated drink.

test-tube (p. 227)

Once again, this term is hyphenated only in the Dodd, Mead US book edition; the SEP serial and UK book have the more usual “test tube” here.

corpse at the Egyptian banquet (p. 228)

In A Wodehouse Handbook, Norman Murphy credits Elin Woodger for finding the source in Herodotus, who relates that “it was the custom for Egyptian banquets to finish with a corpse, or a model of a corpse, being brought into the dining room” as a reminder that death is in everyone’s future.

Edgar Lee Masters (p. 229)

American attorney, poet, dramatist, and biographer (1868–1950); his Spoon River Anthology (1915) was his most successful and influential work published before the writing of this book. Its poems are in free verse (or vers libre as Wodehouse usually calls it), and each is presented as an autobiographical epitaph of the former citizens of a midwestern community, as if the dead could speak and reveal their inner thoughts and the untold history of their town.

a prodigal nephew returned to the fold (p. 229)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

on the same lay (p. 230)

“On [a certain] lay” is slang dating back to the eighteenth century for a line of business, a plan for a job.

all in (p. 230)

More often meaning “exhausted, worn out” or “fully committed”; here, though, it seems to have an older sense of “done for; having no hope of recovery.”

high sign (p. 230)

A signal or gesture intended to convey (sometimes surreptitiously) that all is well, that the coast is clear, etc.

“Well, what are you going to do about it, Pal?” (p. 232)

Only the US book capitalizes Pal here; probably a typesetting error, as on p. 231 it is not capitalized in “You’d got your nerve with you, pal.”

“I’m no orator, as Brutus is” (p. 233)

Quoting Mark Antony; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

a snake in her Eden (p. 234)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Dr. Jekyl (p. 235)

A misprint in the US book; the other original sources have Dr. Jekyll as in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

Chapter 16
Mrs. Pett Takes Precautions

the sick-settee of her stricken child (p. 236)

Hyphenated only in US book; SEP serial and UK book have “sick settee” here. In this case the Dodd, Mead editor can be forgiven for trying to make a one-word substitute for sickbed.

“Oh, Gee” (p. 236)

Capitalized only in US book; the other two editions have “Oh, gee!” with exclamation point.

bread-and-milk (p. 236)

Hyphenated only in US book.

an odd coincidence that the poor child was nearly always like this on the morning after she had been entertaining guests (p. 236)

In addition to “levying toll on the foodstuffs” (chapter 10, p. 174) brought in to the guests in the drawing room during the party, it is tempting to suspect that Ogden had also been sampling any unfinished drinks left about the place. His symptoms make it appear that he has a hangover.

highly-strung (p. 236)

Hyphenated only in US book. Most style guides recommend against using a hyphen after an adverb ending in ly.

the best mode of defence is attack (p. 238)

[Millicent] was also a girl who believed that the best form of defence is attack.

Summer Lightning, ch. 1.3 (1929)

mere sound and fury (p. 238)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

The thing is self-evident (p. 240)

A superficially convincing way of introducing a logical fallacy! Gentleman Jack’s argument assumes that Jimmy is not really Jimmy, which is exactly what he is trying to prove: a form of circular reasoning called begging the question.

nick-name (p. 241)

Hyphenated only in US book.

the Little Nugget (p. 241)

See The Little Nugget.

one impostor was above stairs, the other below (p. 242)

As in the television series Upstairs, Downstairs, this distinguishes between the homeowner’s family and their servants, regardless of whether the architecture of the home puts the kitchen, butler’s pantry, and so forth in the basement.

The UK book text has “abovestairs” as a single word.

Derby hats (p. 243)

Capitalized only in US book. Another name for bowler hats; see Young Men in Spats.

orchestra chair (p. 243)

A seat in the front section of the lower floor of the auditorium of a theater.

morocco (p. 244)

A type of leather originally made from goatskin, sometimes imitated from sheepskin or lambskin. It is smooth and flexible, and frequently dyed red. Binding the telephone book in it suggests not only a desire to disguise everyday objects but also considerable wealth, as the phone directory would be reissued every year or two.

Mr. Sturgis (p. 244)

This may possibly be the same man as Denman Sturgis, “the eminent private investigator” in “Rallying Round Old George” (1912).

Chapter 17
Miss Trimble, Detective

Mobbs and Stiffen (p. 247)

Mrs. Pett’s publishers are mentioned only in the US book.

$1.35 net (p. 247)

U.S. Consumer Price Index data from gives an inflation factor of about 25 from 1916 (when this story first appeared as a serial) to 2021, so this would be the rough equivalent of $35 in modern values.

including the Scandinavian (p. 247)

See Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

Isch (p. 250)

“Isch!” he said—being the first occasion and the last on which I ever heard that remarkable word proceed from the mouth of man.

Love Among the Chickens, ch. 19 (in 1906, 1909, 1921 editions)

“There! You’re sneezing already.”
“I am not sneezing. That was an exclamation of disgust.”

“Wilton’s Holiday” (1915)

floorwalker (p. 253)

A supervisor in a department store who greets customers and directs them to an individual salesperson who can show them the goods they seek.

pulled up the knees of his trousers that half-inch which keeps them from bagging (p. 254)

See Summer Lightning.

“I ought to tell you, that a few years ago…” (p. 254)

The comma is present only in the US book, and seems superfluous.

“Lord Wisbeach, an English peer whom we have known intimately for a very long time” (p. 256)

Mrs. Pett’s eagerness to be perceived as hobnobbing with the aristocracy causes her to delude Mr. Sturgis, and probably herself, about the length and quality of her relationship with the false Lord Wisbeach.

the big detective agencies, Anderson’s… (p. 257)

Apparently fictional; not listed in R. L. Polk’s 1914 corporate directory of New York.

to do Anderson’s service (p. 258)

Apparent typo in the US book; the SEP serial and the UK book have “to do Anderson’s a service” here.

a sheaf of photographs, which had been sent (p. 258)

Thus only in the US book; the SEP serial and the UK book have “a sheaf of photographs that had been sent” here.

the photograph … was the presentment (p. 258)

A rare word in Wodehouse; a possible echo of Shakespeare’s use in Hamlet.

jiu-jitsu (p. 261)

For once, the Dodd, Mead US edition has the spelling which is most common in Wodehouse. The SEP serial omits the hyphen, and the UK Jenkins edition and the Barrie & Jenkins reprint have the misprint ju-jutsu. The Penguin paperback corrects this to ju-jitsu.

For the martial art, see Leave It to Psmith.

small-time vaudeville (p. 261)

The “small time” refers to a lower tier of vaudeville theaters toured by less-famous acts, as opposed to the “big time” of larger houses in bigger cities which would expect nothing but the best available entertainers.

Go to the back-door (p. 261)

Hyphenated only in the US book; “back door” in SEP serial and UK book.

taxi-cab … side-street … back-premises (p. 262)

Hyphenated only in the US book; the other editions have taxicab, side street, and back premises.

parlour-maid (p. 263)

Thus in US book; parlor maid in SEP serial; parlourmaid in UK book.

the equal distribution of property (p. 263)

“I’ve just become a Socialist. It’s a great scheme. You ought to be one. You work for the equal distribution of property, and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it.”

Psmith in The Lost Lambs, ch. 3 (1908; later as the first half of Mike, 1909)

a gimlet stare (p. 263)

A gimlet is a hand tool used for boring holes in wood, in the shape of a T with a screw tip, grooved shank, and cross handle. A stare so characterized must be a penetrating one.

a female of the species so much deadlier than any male (p. 264)

Alluding to a Rudyard Kipling poem; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

Corot (p. 265)

A painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), French master of landscape and portraiture, a predecessor of the Impressionists.

Canaletto (p. 265)

Born Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697–1768), Venetian master of city views of Venice, Rome, and London. Worked in England from 1746 to 1756, where his paintings were collected by royalty and the wealthy, always commanding high prices.

Sogelist (p. 265)

Miss Trimble’s clenched-teeth pronunciation of Socialist.

the ruder a person is the more efficient he must be (p. 266)

Compare this insight, from Dorothy L. Sayers’s detective Lord Peter Wimsey in Murder Must Advertise:

He believed me all the time, simply because I was rude. Everybody suspects an eager desire to curry favour, but rudeness, for some reason, is always accepted as a guarantee of good faith. The only man who ever managed to see through rudeness was St. Augustine…

cooler (p. 268)

An American slang word for prison, dating from the late nineteenth century.

the dog Aida, who had risen from the basket and removing the last remains of sleep (p. 268)

Thus in US book. SEP serial and UK book have which instead of who, and have “and was removing”—clearly the omission of was is a mistake in the US book.

Chapter 18
The Voice from the Past

French windows (p. 270)

See Summer Lightning.

the sort of stuff which long-haired blighters read alone to other long-haired blighters in English suburban drawing-rooms (p. 272)

Although both US and UK first edition books read as above, I am inclined to favor the reading of the SEP serial, which has “read aloud” here. The Penguin paperback also has “read aloud.” This seems more characteristic of the sort of literary salon at which such things are appreciated; “alone” implies an other-than-poetic intimacy which is foreign to Wodehouse’s world.

gave him the Willies (p. 272)

See Bill the Conqueror.

sandbag (p. 272)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

without compunction or ruth (p. 275)

The root word of ruthless is rare today, used mostly to give an archaic or ironic tone to a phrase. It means compassion, pity here.

all things … had worked together for good (p. 275)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

You made me what I am today (p. 276)

The best-known lines of a popular 1913 song, “The Curse of an Aching Heart”, with lyrics by Henry Fink and music by Albert Piantadosi. A 1961 swing arrangement by Billy May, sung by Frank Sinatra, is on YouTube.

prisons … glee-club (p. 277)

Hyphenated in US book; appears as “glee club” in SEP and UK book. A glee club is a choral group, often all-male, singing in harmony and usually unaccompanied.

The glee club at Sing-Sing is mentioned in “High Stakes” (1925).

you had better give up the idea, I’m afraid (p. 278)

The comma seems to be a misprint in the US book; both the SEP serial and the UK book have a period here.

This thing goes through, or fails (p. 278)

The comma is only in the US book; both the SEP serial and the UK book have no punctuation here.

praise from Sir Hubert Stanley (p. 279)

Approbation from Sir Hubert Stanley is praise indeed.

From A Cure for the Heartache, V, ii, a 1797 play by Thomas Morton (1764–1838)

“You stimulate us, Comrade Brady. This is praise from Sir Hubert Stanley.”

Psmith to Kid Brady in Psmith, Journalist, ch. 15 (1909/15)

Buck Maginnis (p. 281)

Spelled thus in Piccadilly Jim, but as Buck Macginnis in “The Eighteen-Carat Kid” and as Buck MacGinnis in The Little Nugget, in which he is said to have merely attempted to kidnap Ogden in Chicago in 1907, after an attempt in New York by Smooth Sam Fisher in 1906. So Ogden’s account here that Buck kidnapped him the first time and took him to live with him seems to be at variance with earlier stories.

Smooth Sam Fisher got away with me the second time (p. 282)

As recounted in “The Eighteen-Carat Kid” and The Little Nugget.

tickled to death (p. 282)

A colloquial combination of one sense of tickled meaning “agreeably excited, pleased, gratified” with the intensifying phrase to death: “to the utmost; to an extreme.” The Google Books ngram viewer shows the phrase to be rare in the nineteenth century, and not always used in its modern sense (though one 1834 citation is clearly as used today), but with a sharp rise in popularity after 1900, with a strong peak in usage in the period from 1912 to 1930 and a steep falloff after 1940.

superstructure (p. 287)

In general, usually meaning something built on top of something else. Surprisingly, the OED citations for the figurative sense are older than for the literal sense, though both go back to the seventeenth century: it can mean a theoretical concept or system of philosophy built on a previously accepted basis, as well as any physical construction resting on a separately considered foundation, built above the deck of a ship, and so forth. None of the OED definitions encompass this use to mean a person’s head.

Wodehouse would use the term again; only two more times have so far been found. In A Damsel in Distress, ch. 3 (1919), Lord Belpher’s “gleaming silk hat” is called a “luminous superstructure”; in Spring Fever, ch. 6 (1948), Mike Cardinal refers to Terry Cobbold’s hair as “that superb superstructure.”

safety first (p. 288)

See If I Were You.

second-story-worker (p. 288)

A burglar who specializes in entry through an upper-floor window; North American slang cited from 1886 (as second-story man) in the OED.

The second hyphen is only in the US book; SEP serial and UK book have “second-story worker” here.

damned, oily yegg (p. 288)

Only the US book has “damned” here. For yegg, a burglar, see the end notes to The Intrusion of Jimmy (1910, also as A Gentleman of Leisure) for a 1910 Wodehouse usage and the derivation.

fish-slice (p. 289)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

Hyphenated only in US book; SEP serial and UK book have “fish slice” here.

I’m ace-high with that dame (p. 290)

North American colloquial for being highly regarded or valued, as in most card games the ace is the highest card in its suit. OED has USA newspaper citations from the 1880s.

“Seems to be ace-high with you, that dub,” he said.

“When Doctors Disagree” (1911)

“I fancy that we shall find, on enquiry, that we are ace high with him.”

The Prince and Betty, ch. 21 (1912 US edition)

“This guy’s ace high with Lady Constance.”

Leave It to Psmith, ch. 9.4 (1923)

“You’re ace high with her. She didn’t actually say she would die for one little rose from your hair, but that was the impression she conveyed.”

Galahad at Blandings, ch. 6 (1965)

Wind a smile around your neck and recede (p. 292)

Thus in US book; SEP and UK book have “round your neck” here.

Apparently a Wodehouse coinage; no earlier usage of “wind a smile round/around” can be found in the Google Books corpus. Figuratively, even a wider smile than the usual “face-splitting grin” (“Buttercup Day”).

Echoed by C. Ranger Gull (“Guy Thorne”) in The City in the Clouds (1922):

“My advice to you is to wind a smile round your neck and depart with the dollars.”

Wodehouse had joshed Ranger Gull in “The Book-Hawkers” (1906).

strung me like an onion (p. 293)

The slang sense of stringing someone, meaning to deceive them, is cited by the OED from an 1819 vocabulary of “flash language.” Now more common in the phrase “stringing (someone) along.”

Onions need to be dried after harvesting if they are to be stored; one common method is to use the dry, leafy tops to weave into a doubled string of twine.

No prior usage of strung/stringing someone like an onion has so far been found, so this may be a Wodehouse coinage.

loth to accept this fact (p. 294)

Spelled thus in US book; SEP and UK book have “loath” here. The two forms are synonymous, and mean unwilling or disinclined.

co-operation (p. 294)

Here the hyphen is used in both US and UK books; the SEP serial instead uses a diaeresis over the second vowel to show that it is pronounced separately: “coöperation.”

“Jer ring, s’?” … “J’ want anything, s’?” … “Y’s’r.” (p. 295)

“Did you ring, sir?”
“Did you want anything, sir?”
“Yes, sir.”

looking like a benevolent priest (p. 295)

Wodehouse seemed to consider the ceremonial dignity of a good butler or valet as having almost a religious quality. See A Damsel in Distress.

Chapter 19
Between Father and Son

his priestly manner fell from him like a robe (p. 296)

See A Damsel in Distress for similar turns of phrase.

mitt the handsome guest (p. 296)

See Money for Nothing.

Carmantic (p. 298)

Apparently a fictitious liner. Wodehouse may have altered the name of the Cunard liner Carmania (in transatlantic service 1905–32), a sister ship of the Caronia, with the “-ic” ending used for ships of the White Star Line.

Larry Doyle (p. 298)

Lawrence Joseph Doyle (1886–1974), second baseman for the New York Giants from 1907 to 1920, except for being traded to the Chicago Cubs for a time in 1916–17.

that guy Klem (p. 298)

Born William Joseph Klimm (1874–1951), but better known as Bill Klem. Dean of baseball umpires; after work in minor leagues he umpired for the National League from 1905 through 1941, working in 18 World Series. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953, after his death.

“There’s a certain type of man that’s just born to have it put over on him by a certain type of woman.” (p. 299)

Reinforcing a point Wodehouse had made in the narration of chapter 1 (p. 18):

[Mrs. Pett] was the type of woman whom small, diffident men seem to marry instinctively, as unable to help themselves as cockleshell boats sucked into a maelstrom.

Chicago Ed. in a crook play (p. 300)

Only the US book uses a period after “Ed.”

In The Eighteen-Carat Kid, ch. 2, White the butler (Smooth Sam Fisher in disguise) refers to Chicago Ed as a kidnapper who had attempted to abduct Ogden Ford. In The Little Nugget it is Ogden himself who recalls Chicago Ed from a previous attempt. So it seems a strange coincidence that Bingley Crocker had played a kidnapper on stage with the same nickname.

a good part … had fat (p. 300)

Under noun senses of fat, the last one listed in the OED is this theatrical jargon, defined as “a part with good lines and telling situations.” Citations range from 1812 to 1933; the last one says that “Theatrical ‘fat’ is determined not by the size of the part, but by its effectiveness.”

a skit on those poems (p. 301)

At least in America, the most common current meaning of skit is a short, informal dramatic performance, but the earliest OED citation for that sense is from 1926. Since the eighteenth century, the word has been used for satirical critical commentary, as here.

the plot thickens (p. 302)

See The Mating Season.

the third reel (p. 303)

Jimmy is now speaking in motion-picture terms, and we are of course in the early era of silent-film features, when projection speeds were variable so that movie lengths were measured in feet, or in the number of reels each containing up to a thousand feet of film. If full, a reel could take anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes to project. Only the most spectacular early features were as long as the average movie of today; at this era, features of four or five reels were common, so Jimmy’s breakdown of the action into five reels would have seemed logical at the time.

anguish at having made such a bloomer (p. 303)

The well-brought-up British man would abhor speaking to someone to whom he had not been introduced. For bloomer, see A Damsel in Distress.

to understudy me (p. 304)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

the scent of the footlights (p. 306)

Probably intended in a generalized or possibly a nostalgic sense rather than to be taken literally. Electric lighting had replaced gas light in theaters fairly quickly during the 1880s and 1890s due to its cleanliness, coolness, safety, relative cheapness, and ease of control. By 1916 when this book was written, the theatrical aromas of wood, canvas, paint, makeup, and dust would have been far more significant than any scent arising from the footlights.

blue chin (p. 306)

Not literally blue, but referring to the dark effect of being unshaven; “five o’clock shadow.”

Chapter 20
Celestine Imparts Information

The best-laid schemes of mice and men gang agley (p. 308)

From Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”, 1785. The original reads “gang aft agley,” which in Scots dialect means “often go awry.” The SEP serial includes “aft” and puts the entire phrase in quotation marks. The UK book omits the quotation marks, uses “oft” rather than “aft,” and spells “a-gley” with a hyphen.

house-keeper’s room (p. 308)

Hyphenated only in US book. This is the room in which senior members of the domestic staff assemble before dinner at Blandings (as we learn in Something Fresh/Something New), not the housekeeper’s private apartment.

At Blandings, the upper servants proceed to the steward’s room for their dinner. But at Belpher Castle in A Damsel in Distress, ch. 22, they take their meals in the housekeeper’s room.

Schopenhauer (p. 308)

See Hot Water.

on Easy Street (p. 310)

Originally American slang for living in comfortable affluence; the OED has citations beginning in 1901, and quotes Wodehouse in The Adventures of Sally, missing this and another early usage:

“If I had been asked my address at that moment, on oath, I wouldn’t have hesitated a second. I should have answered, ‘No. 1, Easy Street.’ ”

“By Advice of Counsel” (1910)

‘Now, I ain’t got a job…’ (p. 310)

Misprint in US book; SEP serial and UK book have “Naw” here—a dialect pronunciation of “No.”

Chapter 21
Chicago Ed.

wicked Forties (p. 312)

The streets of Manhattan from Fortieth to Forty-Ninth Street, another way of referring to the theater district. Jill Mariner and Nelly Bryant in Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior, ch. 14, live in a theatrical boarding house in the Forties.

The headquarters of Lehmac Productions, Inc., were situated in one of those grimy buildings that sprinkle Broadway in the Forties…

Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 7 (1952)

ablaze with light and noisy fox-trots (p. 312)

Thus in US book, an apparent error; both the SEP serial and the UK book have “ablaze with light and noisy with fox trots” here, which makes more sense.

virtuous Hundreds (p. 312)

Similarly, the range from 100th to 109th Street or possibly farther; here characterized as respectable and residential. Grant’s Tomb is on Riverside Drive just above 122nd Street.

on the wagon (p. 313)

See p. 154, above. The UK book has the alternate spelling waggon here, but uses wagon in chapter 8. This inconsistency is repeated in the Penguin paperback and the Barrie & Jenkins reprint editions.

the beasts that perish (p. 313)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

outer darkness (p. 314)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

avoid being seen by Ogden (p. 315)

Thus in both US and UK books; SEP omits “by Ogden” here.

his intimate respectability (p. 316)

Another apparent Dodd, Mead error in the US book. SEP and the UK book have “his innate respectability” here, which makes more sense.

“Aw, cheese it, kid.” (p. 317)

Here meaning “stop it”; see Leave It to Psmith.

“Nix on the rough stuff!” (p. 317)

Nix is a borrowing from German, where it is a colloquial shortening of nichts (nothing). The OED has citations for “nix on” meaning “no more of” beginning in 1902.

you’ve soitanly grown since de last time we got youse (p. 317)

Mr. Crocker seems to be adopting a Brooklyn accent here for “certainly,” “the,” and “you.”

The US book reads as above; SEP and UK book have “soitanly grown some since…”

buzz-wagon (p. 318)

The OED has just three citations: a 1914 definition from Dialect Notes as an automobile, this sentence from Wodehouse, and a 1923 quotation from Plum’s collaborator Ian Hay.

The SEP serial has a space rather than a hyphen, and the UK book has “buzz waggon” here.

monaker (p. 319)

Alternate spelling of moniker, slang from the mid-nineteenth century for a name, an assumed name, a nickname.

fly off the handle (p. 319)

Originally American colloquialism for losing self-control or losing one’s temper; OED has citations beginning in 1832, and explains it as a reference to the head of an axe or similar tool coming off its handle.

Chapter 22
In the Library

an electric torch (p. 323)

In modern terms, a battery-powered flashlight.

oxy-acetylene blowpipe (p. 324)

See Blanding Castle and Elsewhere. It seems odd that the blowpipe is never again mentioned in all the discussion of who opened the safe; the “rest of his implements” are left by the safe here, but no one notices them later.

“Conscience!” (p. 324)

See Bill the Conqueror, and p. 106, above.

deficient in simple faith … Norman blood (p. 325)

See Love Among the Chickens.

I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier! (p. 326)

Popular song of 1915, lyrics by Alfred Bryan, music by Al Piantadosi; one of the first anthems of the pacifist movement that attempted to prevent the United States from entering the First World War. Sheet music at the Library of Congress. 1915 recording by the Peerless Quartette.

chuckled in the reflective way (p. 327)

Thus in US book; SEP serial and UK book have “in that reflective way” here.

negligee (p. 329)

Italicized only in US book; accented as “negligée” in UK book.

The meaning here is not the modern one of a woman’s flimsy dressing gown or nightgown, but simply meaning carelessly, informally, or partially dressed, as would be expected of those roused abruptly in the wee hours.

Chapter 23
Stirring Times for the Petts

“You close y’r face” (p. 333)

Modern readers may be surprised that the rude imperatives “Shut your face” and “Close your face” date from the 1890s. This, however, is the only instance of either so far found in Wodehouse.

“I say that dog’s out there!” (p. 335)

Thus in US book; SEP and UK book have a comma after “say” which seems necessary.

eye of a basilisk (p. 336)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

“blow the whole damned place to pieces.” (p. 337)

Thus in US book; SEP and UK book omit “damned” but have an exclamation point instead of a period.

drawn to one side plainly at a loss to know how to handle this unprecedented crisis, (p. 337)

Thus in US book; SEP and UK book have a comma after “side,” but UK book omits the comma after “crisis” here. The SEP text with both commas seems superior.

a fur muff mysteriously endowed with legs and a tongue (p. 337)

Your annotator’s brother and his wife have owned a couple of Pomeranians in recent years, and this description cracked them up with laughter.

slipping from between the victim’s fingers (p. 337)

Thus in US book and SEP serial; UK book editions (including Penguin and Barrie & Jenkins reprints) have “beneath” instead, which seems an error.

described a parabola (p. 338)

It is true that the trajectory of a projectile is approximately parabolic, but if an object slipped “from between … fingers” it would seem to have been merely dropped, in which case the parabola reduces to a simple vertical line. Only in the cases where it has been given sideways and/or upwards motion is a parabola a relevant description. But we know that the tube landed on the writing desk, and we are never told that Gentleman Jack’s hand was over it, so it seems that the confusion arises from what is meant by “slipping.”

that, if he must die, (p. 338)

The commas are only in the US book edition.

“beat it in my bubble” (p. 339)

That is, driven off in my automobile. For bubble, see “How Kid Brady Assisted a Damsel in Distress” (1906).

the shadow of the valley of death (p. 340)

A reversal of the usual order of words in a Biblical phrase; see Biblia Wodehousiana.

stout denial (p. 340)

See Summer Lightning.

“Goosh!” (p. 341)

Thus in US book; SEP and UK book have the more familiar “Gosh!” here.

all this shrubbery is fake (p. 341)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Astorbilt (p. 344)

A fictitious hotel. This combination of the names Astor and Vanderbilt had been used as a generic name for the wealthy classes in fiction, in textbook examples, and so forth since at least 1880.

Chapter 24
Sensational Turning of a Worm

right in among his nerve-centres (p. 347)

See Bill the Conqueror.

Hoboken (p. 350)

A city in New Jersey, on the west bank of the Hudson River opposite lower Manhattan.

bunk … bunkest (p. 352)

The OED has only a noun definition for bunk as “humbug, nonsense.” Miss Trimble’s use of it as an adjective, though, is clear.

The earliest OED citation is from George Ade’s More Fables (1900), a book we know that Wodehouse enjoyed. Henry Ford popularized the term when quoted in 1916 as saying that “History is more or less bunk.”

Chapter 25
Nearly Everybody Happy

World’s Series (p. 354)

The Major League Baseball championship between the leading teams of the National League and the American League has been held since 1903. The Wikipedia article says: “The name of the event, initially known as the World's Championship Series, was gradually shortened in common usage to "World's Series" and, by the 1930s, to "World Series".”

excellent reasons for soaking him (p. 355)

The OED has an American slang definition for soak meaning to beat, pummel, strike, as a variant of sock, cited beginning in 1892. The OED cites Wodehouse: “Soak it to him, kid!” from Their Mutual Child, 1919, but that book had first appeared in 1914 in a magazine as The White Hope.

put the lid on it (p. 355)

See Ukridge.

the emotion of the preacher at the camp-meeting who sees the Sinners’ Bench filling up (p. 357)

A tradition at religious revival meetings was to have a bench or benches at the front of the audience; those who responded to the preacher’s exhortations to repent and publicly declare their faith were called to come out of the crowd and seat themselves at the sinners’ bench. The aisle down which they came was often called “the sawdust trail”; see Carry On, Jeeves for Billy Sunday and his hit-the-trail campaign.

The waitress was looking like a preacher at a revival meeting who watches the sinners’ bench filling up.

Quick Service, ch. 13 (1940)

envelope addressing (p. 357)

In Psmith in the City (serialized as The New Fold), Mike and Psmith get their first taste of the banking business in the Postage Department of the New Asiatic Bank.

Chapter 26
Everybody Happy

the end of a perfect day (p. 358)

See Ukridge.

“Why not bury the dead past?” (p. 359)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the velvet thingummy rather than the iron what’s-its-name (p. 360)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

made of sterner stuff (p. 361)

One of Wodehouse’s most frequent allusions to Shakespeare; here to Mark Antony in Julius Caesar.

Tennyson’s—‘We fell out, my wife and I’ (p. 361)

A line in a song from The Princess (1847). Wodehouse would allude to this poem again in Money in the Bank and Cocktail Time.



Thanks to Karen Shotting [KS] for contributions. Updated 2024-01-13 NM

Wodehouse’s writings are copyright © Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate in most countries;
material published prior to 1929 is in USA public domain, used here with permission of the Estate.
Our editorial commentary and other added material are copyright © 2012–2024