Psmith, Journalist

New York: N.p., 1909

175 loose pp., various sizes. Collation: Chapters I-XIII [pp. 1-92], lacking the last few lines of Chapter XIII; Chapters XVI-XX [pp. 110-150]; Chapters 25-30 [new pagination pp. 1-42, with a p.18a but no p.19]. Each page preserved in its own acid-free archival pocket, the whole contained in a custom-made archival box. Some leaves browned and brittle, some small tears and fraying to margins.

THE COMPLETE MANUSCRIPT OF PSMITH, JOURNALIST, SIGNED AND DATED ON VERSO OF p.42: ' P.G.Wodehouse, 11 November 1909, Hotel Earle, 103, Waverley Place'. Occasional deletions, additions and amendments, but in essence a fair copy of the novel, with only minor differences between this and the published version.

Originally entitled Psmith USA -- and so called until p.71 in this manuscript -- the novel that was to become Psmith, Journalist was first published in serialised form in the British magazine The Captain between October 1909 and February 1910, and revolves around Psmith's takeover of a slumbering New York news sheet, Cosy Moments, and its transformation under his editorship into a fearless crusader against gang warfare and slum landlords.

Wodehouse's first books, published from 1902 onwards, were school stories; his first novel for adults, Love Among The Chickens, appeared in 1906. Psmith first appears in the second half of Wodehouse's novel Mike [1909], and Psmith, Journalist is the first book Wodehouse wrote in which he appears as the central character. All of which goes some way to explaining the novel's slight uncertainty of tone and structure: Mike himself appears in the first half of the book to no great effect before disappearing completely, and Psmith is here less strikingly characterised than the book's sparkling supporting cast, mostly drawn from the wrong side of the New York tracks.

The three chapters missing from this manuscript were removed and reworked by Wodehouse, to appear in the closing chapters of the book version of The Prince And Betty, published in the US in 1912 -- a story serialised earlier that year in both The Strand in the UK and in Ainslie's Magazine in the US. Psmith, Journalist was not published in book form until 29 September 1915, by A&C Black in London, and shortly thereafter by MacMillan in New York from imported sheets. A detailed comparison with the serialisation of the book in six parts in The Captain magazine shows very few changes.

In 1909 Leslie Havergal Bradshaw was sent to interview Wodehouse for The Captain, publisher in serial form of Psmith, Journalist from October that year. The two became firm friends, and as well as presenting him with this manuscript, Wodehouse dedicated the next Psmith novel, Psmith In The City [1910], to him.

Keywords: P.G. WODEHOUSE"


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