P.G. Wodehouse reading list: the Jeeves and Wooster stories

world-of-jeevesThis piece follows my reading suggestions for new Wodehouse readers with a reading list for the Jeeves and Wooster stories.

Jeeves and Wooster Reading List

*The World of Jeeves is currently available in print for around £8, and includes the short stories contained in Inimitable Jeeves, Carry On, Jeeves, and Very Good Jeeves.

Notes on the series

The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say `When’.

Very Good, Jeeves

Bertie Wooster and his resourceful manservant Jeeves appeared in over thirty short stories between 1915 and the publication of their first novel, Thank You, Jeeves, in 1934. Wodehouse was a master of the short story format, and the stories include some of Bertie’s most memorable adventures. They’re a terrific introduction to the series and its characters. Reading them first will avoid plot spoilers, and ensure you appreciate all the ‘in jokes’ throughout the series.

The short stories first appeared in magazine format before their publication in three volumes as The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), Carry On, Jeeves (1925) and Very Good, Jeeves (1930). Their order of appearance in these volumes differed from the original publication order, and some of the titles were changed. Wodehouse also included reworked versions of earlier stories, featuring a character called Reggie Pepper, as Bertie Wooster stories.

The three short story collections were collated in a 1967 Omnibus, The World of Jeeves, with an introduction by P.G. Wodehouse. The stories were reordered to better resemble their original publication order, and some are listed under their original titles.

The World of Jeeves also includes two later Jeeves stories, ‘Jeeves Makes an Omelette’ and ‘Jeeves and the Greasy Bird’, which appeared in A Few Quick Ones (1959) and Plum Pie (1966). The stories refer to characters and events from the later novels, so if you can exercise an iron will and leave off reading them until later, you’ll avoid spoilers. But no great harm will befall you by reading them first.

The ‘first’ Jeeves and Bertie story, ‘Extricating Young Gussie’ (1915) is not included in any of these volumes. Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, it appeared in the 1917 short story collection The Man with Two Left Feet. There is some debate about whether the Bertie in this story should be rightfully considered Bertie Wooster, or some other Bertie of the Mannering-Phipps variety. These are the sorts of debates you may find yourself entering once you’ve become hooked on the series.

As the early collection My Man Jeeves (1919) was rewritten and incorporated into the later stories, it is recommended for enthusiasts and collectors, but not as a starting point for new readers.

The novels introduce memorable new characters to the Jeeves and Wooster cast including Augustus Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Sir Roderick Spode, the Stoker gang, ‘Catsmeat’ Potter-Pirbright, and his sister Cora.

He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

The Code of the Woosters.

code-of-the-woostersMany people start their Wodehouse reading with The Code of the Woosters. As a highly-regarded classic, it’s a volume most booksellers tend to stock. The Code of the Woosters is also a favourite with fans, who recommend it to new readers with enthusiasm. No great harm will befall you by reading this, or any other book, out of order.

Finally, if this reading list leaves you wanting more, there’s also the 1953 novel Ring for Jeeves featuring Jeeves without Bertie Wooster.

Next in the series: A reading list for Wodehouse’s Blandings stories

Happy Reading!


24 thoughts on “P.G. Wodehouse reading list: the Jeeves and Wooster stories

  1. Pingback: P.G. Wodehouse reading guide: from Jeeves and Blandings to the Hidden Gems « Plumtopia

  2. Pingback: Getting started with Bertie and Jeeves: a chronological challenge « Plumtopia

    1. I too read Wodehouse thoroughly out of order, but it was not by choice. It was simply a case of reading whatever book I could lay my hands on next — this was in the days before online booksellers and ebooks made all of his works available, anywhere in the world.
      Finding books by Wodehouse (beyond the 2-3 most popular Jeeves titles) in Australian bookshops was quite difficult at the time when I was setting out to read them the first time. I was content to read whatever I could find, because — like you — I was addicted. It’s all good stuff!
      But today’s new Wodehouse reader has a choice about the order in which they read the books, and it is a question that is often asked, so I figured a list of some kind might be useful.

      1. I can’t remember which Wooster and Jeeves book was the first I read but I do know the first one I bought, because I still have it: the 1961 Penguin edition of The Mating Season. I don’t remember when I bought it but it wouldn’t have been much later than that. It’s a bit battered now and very brown but still intact and still gets read. I didn’t get to the first PGWs until much later, around the mid-70s when I was started haunting second hand bookshops to build my collection. I approach each one individually so the order doesn’t matter to me.

        I tried to get one of my sons interested in PGW and started him off with, I think, Right Ho, Jeeves, which is my No.1 pick in a close contest with, of course, The Code of the Woosters. This hasn’t done the trick, which bolsters your view, Honoria — should have started somewhere else. May I suggest the Weekend Wodehouse anthology? I lent one of my copies to someone — I’ve forgotten whom (yes, whom) — who wanted to try the old boy and it has not boomeranged. Acceptance of a sort, I guess. I hope it has a good home. Long-winded as usual. Sorry. Toodle-pip.

      2. What Ho, Noel. And what a lovely story about The Mating Season. It’s one of my favourites Good advice on Weekend Wodehouse. I’ve had recent success with Ukridge also. I don’t recall my first Wodehouse but I think it was probably Carry On Jeeves. The book that converted me to a fan to a fanatic was the first Blandings novel — Something Fresh. Must be something to do with the ‘psychology of the individual’. Toodle-pip to you too!

  3. Reblogged this on ashokbhatia and commented:
    For those who are new to the world of P G Wodehouse, here is a post which offers interesting tips on where to start devouring his sunlit works. To those who already reside in Plumsville, this post offers a new perspective on the order in which his works may be savoured.

  4. Derryl T Fontenot

    I would recommend reading the novels starting with the first one, Thank You, Jeeves, which is of the same high level as the masterpieces, has some of the best set pieces in the series, and is certainly better than the later ones.

  5. Pingback: P.G. Wodehouse reading list: the Blandings stories « Plumtopia

  6. Pingback: How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide « Robert Pimm

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  8. Pingback: P.G. Wodehouse reading list: the school stories – Plumtopia

  9. Pingback: Reading Wodehouse: a plea for help « Robert Pimm

  10. Reblogged this on Robert Pimm and commented:
    An excellent guide to reading the Jeeves and Wooster stories of P G Wodehouse. I should point out that, as noted in my post “How to read P G Wodehouse: a new prescription, which reviews “Ring for Jeeves”, although Bertie Wooster does not appear in the book, his doppelgänger, Bill Rowcester, does. There is of course no city called Rowcester but there is a city called Worcester – pronounced Wooster.

  11. An excellent guide to reading the Jeeves and Wooster stories of P G Wodehouse.

    As concerns “Ring for Jeeves” featuring Jeeves without Bertie Wooster, it is perhaps worth noting, as I mention in my post “How to read P G Wodehouse: a new prescription”, that although Bertie indeed does not appear in the book, his doppelgänger, Bill Rowcester, does. There is of course no city called Rowcester but there is a city called Worcester – pronounced Wooster.

  12. Pingback: GEORGE & PHIL’S BREAKFAST MEDITATION, STOP 1: Cafe Poland – The Overeem Farewell Tour: Dispatches from the Public School Trenches

  13. Michael Backhouse

    I am a new Wodehouse convert and have only read four of his books. They are the first four on the recommended Jeeves list above, although it was quite independently of that list. I cannot tell you how I love them and look forward to reading all the other Wodehouse books, both Jeeves and non Jeeves. However I came to them without ever actually reading the books.

    After several eye operations, I began to listen to audiobooks as I found it hard to read. The Jeeves books I have read (three short story collections and a novel) were narrated unabridged by Jonathon Cecil, who was IMHO absolutely brilliant at inhabiting the characters. His version of the inebriated Gussie Fink-Nottle at Market Snodsbury Grammar School was terrific. I had never heard of this actor before but believe he should be in some Wodehouse Hall of Fame for his services.

    As my vision has improved somewhat I am now ready to take on reading again (particularly as my local library has new copies of the Jeeves, Blandings and several other Wodehouse books in large type versions. It should be interesting to compare listening to Jonathon Cecil and reading the books. I must say I miss being able to rewind some of the dialogue and savour it as one can more easily do with the reading of a book. Perhaps I can do both and compare the experience!

    I love having found your website and like minded individuals therein. I live at the Sunshine Coast in Australia and was disappointed to learn there was no Wodehouse group locally. Keep up the good work HP.

    1. Welcome Michael.
      Thanks for the kind words. It’s great to meet you here and I’m glad your sight is improving.
      I love the Cecil audiobooks too. After a long working day staring at a screen, I like to rest my eyes at bedtime and listen to an audiobook instead of reading. He’s also a great guide to pronunciation.
      Wodehouse fans can be hard to find in Australia. There are a few of us, but we’re too spread out geographically to meet in person. Perhaps we could organise ourselves for an annual gathering?
      Pip Pip etc.

    2. What ho, Michael. Welcome, as Honoria says, to the world of Wodehouse. There are a few of us in Oz who are aligned with Plumtopia or the Wodehouse societies in the US and UK. But there must be many more of us laughing in their armchairs or beds, judging by the collections of books to be found in the secondhand stores (although the dealers are now well up to speed and have prices to match). Pip, pip for now.

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