A letter from Tony Blair to Penguin Books on the occasion of reissuing the long-awaited Jeeves and Wooster books
THE PRIME MINISTER
Someone once wrote that the world was divisible into people who liked
PG Wodehouse's stuff, and those who didn't. New Labour is, of course,
more inclusive than that. But I know what they meant.
To remember reading my first Wodehouse is the work of a moment. A
Jeeves short story, as it happens, and no doubt a Penguin paperback.
Even at this distance, what stabs at the memory is simply how funny it
was. How well-written, and how inventive, too. But just how funny:
almost every sentence, pretty well every page, and over many, many
years for PG Wodehouse, close on every book. I re-read Wodehouse
whenever the work pressure gets hard.
Wodehouse has kept himself in print because of his appeal - in Britain,
and widely abroad, though I often wonder how on earth he is
translatable into other languages. But 80 years after Jeeves and Bertie
first appeared, the idea of presenting PG Wodehouse to new audiences
and new readers is a good one. I envy those who've never read him
before - the prospect of reams of unread Wodehouse stretching out in
front of you is, to long-standing admirers and readers like me and millions
of others, something which is enticing to contemplate.
Reissuing all the Jeeves and Wooster titles is a pretty good second. I
welcome new and not-so-new readers to the Wodehouse fold.