Blandings Castle

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Blandings Castle is the setting of a series of novels and stories by PG Wodehouse.

Blandings, a castle which "has impostors the way other places have mice", is the home of the elderly and ineffectual Earl of Emsworth, which is routinely used by his many domineering sisters to imprison nieces or nephews intent on an unsuitable marriage. The would-be fiancé has to infiltrate the castle in disguise, often with help from the Earl's ne'er-do-well brother Galahad Threepwood, and capable, sporting butler Sebastian Beach, or less often his good friend Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton, Earl of Ickenham, who aims always to spread sweetness and light, and persuade Emsworth to overrule his sister.

The second Blandings novel, Leave It to Psmith, is also the last instalment of the Psmith series.

The Blandings series has seen Clive Currie and Horace Hodges as Lord Emsworth in movie versions, and Fritz Schultz (in German), Sir Ralph Richardson, and Peter O'Toole on television, although many regard the BBC radio Lord Emsworth, Richard Vernon (who also lent his voice to Slartibartfast), as definitive.

Tropes used in Blandings Castle include:


  • Author Existence Failure: Sunset At Blandings was published posthumously, only half-finished.
  • Beetle Maniac: J. Preston Peters in Something Fresh.
  • Be My Valentine: The heroine of the very first "Blandings" novel, Something Fresh (1915), was named Joan Valentine.
  • Butt Monkey: Freddie Threepwood.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted at every opportunity -- if a child appears in a Wodehouse story, nine times out of ten he (it's usually a he) will be an obnoxious grubby little pest.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Lord Emsworth is a doddering old man who cares about nothing more than his pig (which he christened the Empress of Blandings). Want to talk to Emsworth? Chances are he'll end up rambling about pigs, derail the conversation based on semantics, or just plain space out and not listen to you at all. Even if you're lucky enough to have a lucid conversation with him, ten minutes later he'll have forgotten about it (and quite possibly you) anyway.
  • Coincidence Magnet: Gridley Quayle, the protagonist of the detective series authored by Ashe Marson in Something Fresh. While Ashe admits that Quayle only manages to pull through because of a Contrived Coincidence Once Per Episode, he gradually comes to realize that he's an example of this trope in his own right.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Honourable Galahad, regularly helping his younger acquaintances out of trouble, often with rather impressive Zany Schemes.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Angus [McAllister], the head gardener.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: George in Something Fresh.
  • Evil Matriarch: The horrendous aunts. Or, in Lord Emsworth's case, the horrendous sisters. Although they're in turn aunts to some of the young persons.
  • Fiery Redhead: Ricky Gilpin in Uncle Fred in the Springtime is a male example.
  • The Fool: Many of Wodehouse's protagonists.
  • Forced Into Their Sunday Best: In the short story, "Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend",[1] the eponymous peer is forced by Lady Constance, over his strenuous objections, to put on a top hat, frock coat, and a stiff collar to preside at a public fête held on the grounds of Blandings Castle.
  • Forgetful Jones: Lord Emsworth.
  • Genre Savvy: In Something Fresh, Ashe uses the knowledge of detective fiction he gleaned when writing the Gridley Quayle series to track down the purloiner of the scarab.
  • Grande Dame: The formidable Lady Constance.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In Something Fresh, Ashe and Joan disguise themselves as a valet and a ladies' maid as part of opposing efforts to steal a prized scarab.
  • Last-Name Basis: Gally is at one point surprised to learn that Beach's name is Sebastian.
  • Love At First Sight: In almost every story. Usually the likeable male lead falls for a girl and it takes her a while to return his affections.
  • MacGuffin: This is very often a diamond or pearl necklace, though the Empress of Blandings herself often serves as a Living MacGuffin.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Despite not being particularly manic, Joan Valentine in Something Fresh plays this role for Ashe, shaking up his boring life (and instigating the wacky plot) by encouraging him to do...something fresh.
  • Messy Pig: The Empress of Blandings.
  • Mistaken for Servant: Lady Hermione Wedge, mistaken for the cook.
  • Mock Millionaire: Sue Brown in Summer Lightning and Heavy Weather.
  • Noodle Incident: Repeated references are made to the never-actually-recounted "Story of the Prawns" which relates a humiliatingly hilarious incident in the youth of stuffed shirt Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe. At the end of Summer Lightning, Galahad Threepwood starts telling the story, but the book ends before we would find out what it's about.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: A regularly-appearing plot development, to the point where Wodehouse himself had his own names for all the character tropes involved. The "parent" was always one of Lord Emsworth's governess sisters, and the resolution almost invariably ended with the Hon. Galahad Threepwood (or sometimes Uncle Fred) blackmailing said sister into letting the marriage through, generally using an element of the B-plot.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Makes adapting Wodehouse's work to TV or film no easy task.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Lord Emsworth's secretary, "The Efficient Baxter" has them.
  • A Simple Plan: In contrast to Jeeves' elaborately plotted fixes, the Blandings invaders start here and go from there. It's common for Uncle Fred to come up with his ultimate solution while resting in his hammock at Blandings.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: The Duke of Dunstable frequently writes these to the Times or the government.
  • Talks Like a Simile: Comedic similes are a staple of Wodehouse's writing.
  • Title Drop: Summer Lightning, Heavy Weather, and more.
  • The Unfavorite: Freddie. Not only is he the second son (and therefore gratuitous), he tends to pile up debts and have to be exiled to Blandings, where he sulks around and longs to be back in London. Lord Emsworth can't stand him and would do anything to get him off his hands.
  • Upper Class Twit: Lord Emsworth's sons, particularly Freddie Threepwood, are rather air-headed. As is Emsworth himself, really.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: What Gally usually has to resort to.
  • Zany Scheme: Blandings is host to one of these about twice a week.
  1. in the collection Blandings Castle