Extricating Young Gussie

"Extricating Young Gussie" is a short story by British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse. It was first published in the United States in the 18 September 1915 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, and in the United Kingdom in the January 1916 edition of The Strand Magazine.[1] It was included in the collection The Man with Two Left Feet (1917).[2]

The story features the first appearance of two of Wodehouse's most popular and enduring characters, the impeccable valet Jeeves and his master Bertie Wooster, though there are some differences between this story and later stories in which they appear. Jeeves only plays a very small role in this story, and Bertie's surname, which is not explicitly given, appears to be Mannering-Phipps, as that is the name of his cousin Gussie, whose father is Bertie’s paternal uncle. Bertie's imperious Aunt Agatha, a recurring character, is also introduced in this story.

The first meeting of Jeeves and Bertie would be chronicled one year later, in the November 1916 short story "Jeeves Takes Charge".[1] Some elements of the plot of "Extricating Young Gussie" were later incorporated by Wodehouse into a 1918 Jeeves story, "Jeeves and the Chump Cyril".

"Extricating Young Gussie"
Illustration by Alfred Leete for "Extricating Young Gussie"
1916 Strand illustration by Alfred Leete
AuthorP. G. Wodehouse
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherThe Saturday Evening Post
Media typePrint (Magazine)
Publication dateSeptember 1915
Followed byMy Man Jeeves


In Bertie's flat in London, around half past eleven, Jeeves wakes Bertie up telling him that his Aunt Agatha has come to see him. She is distressed that Augustus "Gussie" Mannering-Phipps, her nephew and Bertie's cousin living in New York City, has fallen for a girl named Ray Denison who is a vaudeville performer. Concerned about the family's prestige, Aunt Agatha does not want Gussie to marry a vaudeville performer like his late father did, though Gussie's mother Julia learned to be aristocratic. Aunt Agatha demands that Bertie go to New York and keep Gussie from marrying Ray.

Arriving in New York, Bertie leaves Jeeves to get Bertie's baggage through customs and soon runs into Gussie, now going by the name of "George Wilson". Gussie is about to appear on the music-hall stage because Ray's father, an old vaudeville professional, does not want Ray to marry someone outside the profession. Bertie, afraid that he will not be able to disentangle Gussie from vaudeville, cables his Aunt Julia, Gussie's mother, for help.

After some rehearsals, Gussie appears in his first show. Attending the performance, Bertie sits next to a very pretty girl. Gussie has stage fright and starts badly, but halfway through his second song the girl beside Bertie joins in, bucking up Gussie. The audience cheers them both. After the show, Gussie reveals that the girl is Ray Denison. Bertie is later introduced to her, and meets her formidable father, Joe Danby.

Aunt Julia arrives, and Bertie takes her to see Gussie and Ray in their respective shows, which seem to engross Aunt Julia. Next, they visit Ray's father Danby, who turns out to have performed with Julia twenty-five years prior. Aunt Julia, happy to see Danby, is suddenly friendly rather than aristocratic. Danby confesses that he always loved her, and prohibited his daughter from marrying outside the profession because that is what Julia did. Julia is moved and they share a heartfelt embrace. Bertie edges out. Meeting Gussie soon after, Bertie hears Julia and Danby are to be married, as are Gussie and Danby's daughter. Julia and Danby plan to perform together again. Fearing Aunt Agatha's ire, Bertie tells Gussie that, if Bertie is lucky, he will not be back in England for about ten years.


  • Bertie
  • Aunt Agatha, Bertie's aunt
  • Jeeves, Bertie's valet
  • Spencer Gregson, Aunt Agatha's husband (mentioned only)
  • Augustus "Gussie" Mannering-Phipps, aka George Wilson, Bertie's cousin
  • Julia Mannering-Phipps, Gussie's mother
  • Cuthbert Mannering-Phipps, Gussie's late father (mentioned only)
  • Ray Denison, Gussie's fiancée
  • Daisy Trimble, a wife to one of Bertie's pals (mentioned only)
  • Barman in Gussie's hotel
  • Abe Riesbitter, a vaudeville agent
  • Joe Danby, Ray Denison's father
  • Piano player in the music-room


Wodehouse often uses terms outside of their normal contexts for comedic effect. An example of this can be seen in the manner of speech used by Bertie Wooster, who makes use of unusual, exaggerated synonyms. This is illustrated in "Extricating Young Gussie", the first story in which Bertie appears, when Aunt Agatha expresses disapproval of this manner of speaking:

"What are your immediate plans, Bertie?"
"Well, I rather thought of tottering out for a bite of lunch later on, and then possibly staggering round to the club, and after that, if I felt strong enough, I might trickle off to Walton Heath for a round of golf."
"I am not interested in your totterings and tricklings."[4]

Bertie often makes literary allusions. When describing the invigorating energy of New York City in the story, Bertie states that it makes one feel "God's in His Heaven: All's right with the world". This is a quotation from the dramatic poem Pippa Passes by Robert Browning. This precise quotation differs from the allusions Bertie makes in future Jeeves stories, in which Bertie generally gives only a vague version of the quotations he alludes to, and often relies on Jeeves's help to correctly finish quotations.[5]


In contrast to the later stories in which he features, Jeeves is only a minor character in this story. He speaks just two lines, first when he announces Aunt Agatha,[6] and second when Bertie suddenly tells Jeeves they will shortly be going to America, and Jeeves, unfazed, asks which suit Bertie will wear.[7] In a 1948 letter he wrote to novelist Lawrence Durrell, Wodehouse wrote concerning Jeeves:

It never occurred to me at the time that he would ever do anything except appear at doors and announce people. Then – I don’t think it was the next Bertie story but the one after that – I had got Bertie’s friend into a bad tangle of some sort and I saw how to solve the problem but my artistic soul revolted at the idea of having Bertie suggest the solution. It would have been absolutely out of character. Then who? For a long time I was baffled, and then I suddenly thought ‘Why not make Jeeves a man of brains and ingenuity and have him do it?’ After that, of course, it was all simple and the stories just rolled out one after the other.[8]

Another difference between "Extricating Young Gussie" and later Jeeves stories is that Bertie is not musically-inclined in this story, as he seems unfamiliar with Gussie's songs and states that he does not have an ear for music,[9] whereas he shows much more interest in music in later stories, most notably when he sings competently in "Jeeves and the Song of Songs", plays the banjolele (though apparently not very well) in Thank You, Jeeves, and composes lyrics for a hunting song in The Mating Season.

Publication history

The story was illustrated by Martin Justice in the Saturday Evening Post and by Alfred Leete in the Strand.[10]

"Extricating Young Gussie" was included in the 1934 collection Methuen's Library of Humour: P. G. Wodehouse, published by Methuen & Co. Ltd.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b : Appendix A
  2. ^ McIlvaine (1990), pp. 31-33, A21.
  3. ^ Wodehouse (1997), chapter 1, p. 11.
  4. ^ Hall, Robert A., Jr. (1974). The Comic Style of P. G. Wodehouse. Hamden: Archon Books. pp. 89–94. ISBN 0-208-01409-8.
  5. ^ Thompson (1992), pp. 286–287.
  6. ^ Wodehouse (1997), chapter 1, p. 1. "'It can't have been half-past eleven when Jeeves, my man, woke me out of the dreamless and broke the news: 'Mrs. Gregson to see you, sir.'"
  7. ^ Wodehouse (1997), chapter 1, p. 5. "Jeeves came in with the tea. 'Jeeves,' I said, 'we start for America on Saturday.' 'Very good, sir,' he said; 'which suit will you wear?'"
  8. ^ Wodehouse, P. G. (4 February 2013). "P.G. Wodehouse Explains Origin Of 'Jeeves' To Author Lawrence Durrell". HuffPost News (Reprinted ed.). Oath Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2018. (In the letter, written more than thirty years after this short story, Wodehouse apparently confuses this story with the Reggie Pepper story "Disentangling Old Duggie", and Aunt Agatha with Bertie's other aunt, Dahlia Travers.)
  9. ^ Wodehouse (1997), chapter 1, p. 10.
  10. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 155, D59.10, and p. 183, D133.48.
  11. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 114, B3a.
  • McIlvaine, Eileen; Sherby, Louise S.; Heineman, James H. (1990). P. G. Wodehouse: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Checklist. New York: James H. Heineman Inc. ISBN 978-0-87008-125-5.
  • Thompson, Kristin (1992). Wooster Proposes, Jeeves Disposes or Le Mot Juste. New York: James H. Heineman, Inc. ISBN 0-87008-139-X.
  • Wodehouse, P. G. (1997). Enter Jeeves. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-29717-0.

External links

1915 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1915.

Aunt Agatha

Agatha Gregson, née Wooster, later Lady Worplesdon, is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves stories of British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being best known as Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha. Haughty and overbearing, Aunt Agatha wants Bertie to marry a wife she finds suitable, though she never manages to get Bertie married, thanks to Jeeves's interference.

She is often mentioned in the stories as being Bertie's fearsome aunt, in contrast to her sister Aunt Dahlia, Bertie's genial aunt.

Bertie Wooster

Bertram "Bertie" Wilberforce Wooster is a recurring fictional character in the comedic Jeeves stories created by British author P. G. Wodehouse. A young English gentleman and one of the "idle rich", Bertie frequently appears alongside his valet, Jeeves, whose intelligence manages to save Bertie or one of his friends from numerous awkward situations. As the first-person narrator of ten novels and over 30 short stories, Bertie Wooster ranks as one of the most vivid comic creations in popular literature.

Bertie Wooster is the central figure in all but one of Wodehouse's Jeeves short stories and novels, which were published between 1915 and 1974. The sole exception is the novel Ring for Jeeves (1953), a third-person narration in which he is mentioned but does not appear. All the other Jeeves novels and short stories are narrated by Bertie, with the exception of the short story "Bertie Changes His Mind" (1922), which is narrated by Jeeves.

Canterbury Music Hall

The Canterbury Music Hall was established in 1852 by Charles Morton on the site of a former skittle alley adjacent to the Canterbury Tavern at 143 Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth. It was the first purpose-built music hall in London, and Morton came to be dubbed the Father of the Halls as hundreds of imitators were built within the next several years. The theatre was rebuilt three times, and the last theatre on the site was destroyed by bombing in 1942.


Reginald Jeeves, usually referred to as just Jeeves, is a fictional character in a series of comedic short stories and novels by English author P. G. Wodehouse. Jeeves is the highly competent valet of a wealthy and idle young Londoner named Bertie Wooster. First appearing in print in 1915, Jeeves continued to feature in Wodehouse's work until his last completed novel Aunts Aren't Gentlemen in 1974, a span of 60 years.

Both the name "Jeeves" and the character of Jeeves have come to be thought of as the quintessential name and nature of a valet or butler, inspiring many similar characters (as well as the name of the Internet search engine Ask Jeeves, now simply called Ask.com). A "Jeeves" is now a generic term as validated by its entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.Jeeves is a valet, not a butler; that is, he is responsible for serving an individual, whereas a butler is responsible for a household and manages other servants. On rare occasions he fills in for someone else's butler.

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is a play written by David and Robert Goodale based on the 1938 novel The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse. It made its world premiere at the Richmond Theatre in October 2013, then transferred later that month to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre. The production won the 2014 Laurence Olivier Award, for Best New Comedy.

List of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen characters

This is a collection of the characters from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a comic book series created by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, and its spin-off Nemo.

My Man Jeeves

My Man Jeeves is a collection of short stories by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Kingdom in May 1919 by George Newnes. Of the eight stories in the collection, half feature the popular characters Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, while the others concern Reggie Pepper, an early prototype for Bertie Wooster.

P. G. Wodehouse

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (; 15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975) was an English author and one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century. Born in Guildford, the third son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong, Wodehouse spent happy teenage years at Dulwich College, to which he remained devoted all his life. After leaving school, he was employed by a bank but disliked the work and turned to writing in his spare time. His early novels were mostly school stories, but he later switched to comic fiction, creating several regular characters who became familiar to the public over the years. They include the jolly gentleman of leisure Bertie Wooster and his sagacious valet Jeeves; the immaculate and loquacious Psmith; Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle set; the Oldest Member, with stories about golf; and Mr Mulliner, with tall tales on subjects ranging from bibulous bishops to megalomaniac movie moguls.

Most of Wodehouse's fiction is set in England, although he spent much of his life in the US and used New York and Hollywood as settings for some of his novels and short stories. He wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies during and after the First World War, together with Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern, that played an important part in the development of the American musical. He began the 1930s writing for MGM in Hollywood. In a 1931 interview, his naïve revelations of incompetence and extravagance in the studios caused a furore. In the same decade, his literary career reached a new peak.

In 1934 Wodehouse moved to France for tax reasons; in 1940 he was taken prisoner at Le Touquet by the invading Germans and interned for nearly a year. After his release he made six broadcasts from German radio in Berlin to the US, which had not yet entered the war. The talks were comic and apolitical, but his broadcasting over enemy radio prompted anger and strident controversy in Britain, and a threat of prosecution. Wodehouse never returned to England. From 1947 until his death he lived in the US, taking dual British-American citizenship in 1955. He was a prolific writer throughout his life, publishing more than ninety books, forty plays, two hundred short stories and other writings between 1902 and 1974. He died in 1975, at the age of 93, in Southampton, New York.

Wodehouse worked extensively on his books, sometimes having two or more in preparation simultaneously. He would take up to two years to build a plot and write a scenario of about thirty thousand words. After the scenario was complete he would write the story. Early in his career he would produce a novel in about three months, but he slowed in old age to around six months. He used a mixture of Edwardian slang, quotations from and allusions to numerous poets, and several literary techniques to produce a prose style that has been compared to comic poetry and musical comedy. Some critics of Wodehouse have considered his work flippant, but among his fans are former British prime ministers and many of his fellow writers.

P. G. Wodehouse short stories bibliography

The following is an incomplete list of short stories by P. G. Wodehouse grouped by the Wodehouse canon to which they belong, if applicable.

For a list of Wodehouse's books, including novels and collections of short stories, see P. G. Wodehouse bibliography.

The Artistic Career of Corky

"The Artistic Career of Corky" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, and features the young gentleman Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves. The story was published in the Saturday Evening Post in the United States in February 1916, and in The Strand Magazine in the United Kingdom in June 1916, as "Leave it to Jeeves". The story was also included in the 1925 collection Carry On, Jeeves.The story takes place in New York. The artist Corky, a friend of Bertie's, wants to get approval from his uncle to marry his fiancée Muriel. To help Corky, Jeeves proposes a plan that involves books about American birds.

The Man with Two Left Feet

The Man With Two Left Feet, and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the UK on 8 March 1917 by Methuen & Co., London, and in the US on 1 February 1933 by A. L. Burt and Co., New York.All the stories had previously appeared in periodicals, usually The Strand Magazine in the United Kingdom and The Red Book Magazine or The Saturday Evening Post in the United States.

It is a fairly miscellaneous collection — most of the stories concern relationships, sports and household pets, and do not feature any of Wodehouse's regular characters; one, however, "Extricating Young Gussie", is notable for the first appearance in print of two of Wodehouse's best-known characters, Jeeves and his master Bertie Wooster (although Bertie's surname is not given and Jeeves's role is very small), and Bertie's fearsome Aunt Agatha.

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