|Love Among the Chickens
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First published in UK: June 1906 by George Newnes Ltd., London|
First published in US: May 11 1909 by Circle Publishing Company, New York
Rewritten edition first published in UK: May 1921 by Herbert Jenkins, London
Giving us our first jaw-dropping encounter with Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge,
Love Among the Chickens, published in 1906 (and revised in 1920) to
accommodate the inflation in egg prices), launched
P.G. Wodehouse's career, and that of his larger-than-life-hero.
Ukridge has hit upon a foolproof plan to get rich quick: he's starting a chicken farm.
Dragging his adoring wife Millie and his long-suffering friend and novelist Jeremy Garnet with him
to Dorset he begins his enterprise. En route, however, Garnet has fallen in love.
Complications in classic Wodehousian style ensue, involving the taciturn Hired Man and his
bumptious dog Bob, supercilious chickens, irascible professors, angry creditors and divided lovers.
For the lucky reader, it is sheer hilarity...
Click for enlarge book cover
Jeremy Garnet — Hero — author of two published novels,
ex-schoolmaster with Ukridge, and wants to marry Phyllis
Mrs. Medly — Garnet's landlady
Lickford — Writer and painter friend of Garnet's
Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge — 6' 2" loveable scoundrel
who wears old grey flannel suit with pince-nez and gingerbeer
wire plus mackintosh. Favorite expression is "old horse."
Millie Ukridge — Stanley's wife
Phyllis Derrick - Heroine — loved by Jerry
Patrick Derrick — Phyllis' father who is professor at Dublin University
Albert — Youth in train with Aunty and 20 year old sister
Aunty — Travelling with Albert
Molly McEachern — Phyllis' friend who gave her Jerry's book
Bob — Beale's mongrel dog
Beale — Red-headed ex-sergeant who is handyman on the chicken farm
Mrs. Beale — Beale's wife and the farm's cook
Tom Chase — Lieutenant in the Royal Navy who is engaged to
Norah. A fancy talker like Psmith.
Dawlish — Grocer at Lyme Regis
Edwin — Millie's pure-bred Persian cat
Norah Derrick — Phyllis' sister engaged to Tom Chase
Farmer Leigh — Neighbor near Up Lyme to Chicken farm
Harry Hawk — Boatman hired by Jerry to throw Prof. Derrick overboard
Vickers — Butcher in Lyme Regis
Curtis — Fishmonger in Lyme Regis
Aunt Elizabeth — Millie's aunt who is Lady Lakenheath
Smith — Gramophone dealer in Dorchester
Jane Muspratt — Harry Hawk's fiancee
Mrs. Kathleen O'Brien — Phyllis' aunt who gave wedding reception
Mrs. Minchley — Mrs. O'Brien's cook
Mr. Hill — Mrs. O'Brien's butler
The first five chapters are narrated about, the last eighteen by, Jeremy
Garnet, Old Wrykynian, struggling author, verse-writer,
ex-prep-schoolmaster, golfer. He is persuaded to join his feckless
ex-school, ex-schoolmastering colleague, Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge
and his adoring wife Millie, in Lyme Regis where they are setting up a
chicken farm that is supposed to be going to make fortunes for all of them.
In the train from Paddington, Garnet meets a girl, Phyllis Derrick, who is
actually reading one of his own (two) novels. She is going to join her
father, Professor Derrick, at Lyme Regis. The Ukridge chicken-farm
founders. The Professor quarrels with Ukridge and forbids his daughter the
house. To win Phyllis's favour Garnet arranges to have her father upset
from a boat in the harbour so that he, Garnet, can rescue him. But the
Professor only gives his approval to the marriage after Garnet has let him
win the final of the local golf tournament. The wedding is told as a short
stage play. This book gives us our first view of Ukridge, that great
dreamer, idler, schemer, borrower of money and clothes, and general menace.
Wodehouse revised the book and it was reissued in 1921. Now it was all told
by Garnet, and the playlet of the wedding was removed. For some reason Lyme
Regis was changed to Combe Regis. And the price of eggs was changed to
allow for inflation.
Source: Richard Usborne. Plum Sauce. A P G Wodehouse Companion.