Ten things you might not know about Jeeves
Jeeves who? There is no Jeeves who. You know who I’m talking about – the character in the P.G. Wodehouse books who keeps his young master, Bertie Wooster, out of trouble. (Mostly).
Here are few few things you might now know -or have possibly forgotten – about this wonderful literary character.
Although the young master, Bertie Wooster, didn’t realise it for many years, Jeeves actually does have a first name. Can you guess what it is? I would have guessed ‘Henry’ or ‘Percival’ or something similar but no. Jeeves’ first name is Reginald and he was known as Reggie to his friends.
Jeeves was not a butler. He was a gentleman’s personal gentleman. In other words, he was a valet and his main duty was attending to the clothes of the young master. He did however, extend his duties to buttling (if indeed there is such a word) and effectively ran Bertie’s household … and life.
Jeeves, like Bertie, was burdened with aunts. He had three. One kept cats. Another, Aunt Annie, was the matriarch of the family (probably the equivalent of Bertie’s ghastly Aunt Agatha) and the final sister had varicose veins of such complexity that she had allowed them to be photographed for an advertisement for a patent medicine.
He had only one uncle, as far as we are aware. He was Charlie Silversmith and worked as a butler at Deverill Hall. He also has a niece called Mabel, the daughter of his late Uncle Percy. Bertie’s friend Biffy became attached to Mabel and it was up to Jeeves to find a solution to their relationship.
Despite popular opinion, and despite what Bertie says, Jeeves’ brainpower does not come from eating large quantities of fish. Bertie has been known to offer Jeeves the odd sardine to ‘get the old cogs working in the old noggin’ but Jeeves invariably respectfully declines the offer.
His first job was that of a page at a girls’ school.This is revealed in later years when Bertie is inveigled into speaking to a collection of young ladies; the school friends of ‘the kid Thomasina’.Terrified by the ‘young ladies’ he appealed to Jeeves who agreed that there was species more frightening.
Jeeves is a member of the Junior Ganymede Club which is exclusively for those of his own profession. As part of their membership, each valet must contribute to the club book which describes the foibles and curious antics of their employers. Bertie Wooster’s section is formidable.
Jeeves does not approve of red hair, especially in women. He does not like Nietzsche, saying he is ‘fundamentally unsound. He is easily affronted by irregular and incorrect clothing and the only time his sang froid was completely destroyed was when he saw Bingo Little wearing a tie bearing horseshoes.
He has worked for a variety of men from ‘the upper crust’. This means that he has a huge knowledge about the sort of circles in which Bertie and his friends move. His inside knowledge regarding some of the higher strata of English society well places him to succeed in his ruses.
The word ‘Jeeves’ has now entered the English language not only to refer to butlers and valets. It also is used to describe a person or entity with immense knowledge. The search engine Ask Jeeves was a good example. The word is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary.