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Joy in the Morning (Wodehouse novel)

Joy in the Morning is a novel by English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, first published in the United States on 22 August 1946, by Doubleday & Co., New York, and in the United Kingdom on 2 June 1947, by Herbert Jenkins, London.[1] Some later American paperback editions bore the title Jeeves in the Morning.

Joy in the Morning
First edition (US)
AuthorP. G. Wodehouse
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreComic novel
PublisherDoubleday, Doran (US)
Herbert Jenkins (UK)
Publication date
22 August 1946 (US)
2 June 1947 (UK)
Media typePrint
Preceded byThe Code of the Woosters 
Followed byThe Mating Season 

The story is another adventure of Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Jeeves. Bertie is persuaded to brave the home of his fearsome Aunt Agatha and her husband Lord Worplesdon, knowing that his former fiancée, the beautiful and formidably intellectual Lady Florence Craye will also be in attendance.

The title derives from an English translation of Psalms 30:5:

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

Wodehouse was working on the novel in Le Touquet, France, before he was interned by the occupying German authorities. He completed the book in Germany after his wife, Ethel, brought the unfinished manuscript with her when she joined her husband in Berlin.[2] The manuscript was completed in Degenershausen, a small village in the Harz mountains.[3]


The novel opens with a brief flashforward of Bertie and Jeeves driving home, with Bertie remarking that there is an expression, something about Joy, that describes what he has just been through. Jeeves helpfully supplies the phrase, "Joy cometh in the morning".[4] Bertie proceeds to narrate the events that occurred.

Jeeves wants to go fishing at the village of Steeple Bumpleigh, but Bertie refuses to go there because his fearsome Aunt Agatha and her second husband, the irascible Lord Worplesdon, live there at Bumpleigh Hall. Bertie makes it up to Jeeves by buying him a gift, a new edition of the works of Spinoza. In the bookshop, Bertie meets Florence Craye, Worplesdon's daughter, a serious, intellectual girl to whom Bertie was once engaged. She mistakenly thinks that Bertie is trying to improve his mind by reading Spinoza and her own book Spindrift. Shortly afterwards, Bertie meets his college friend D'Arcy "Stilton" Cheesewright, who is engaged to Florence. Meanwhile, Jeeves has been consulted by Worplesdon, who wants to arrange a clandestine meeting with an American businessman, Chichester Clam. Jeeves suggests that Bertie stay at a cottage (called Wee Nooke) in Steeple Bumpleigh, where the two businessmen could meet in secret. Aunt Agatha, who is away, bought a brooch as a birthday present for her step-daughter Florence and asks Bertie to deliver it.

Bertie goes to Steeple Bumpleigh with his friend Zenobia "Nobby" Hopwood. She is engaged to Bertie's friend George "Boko" Fittleworth, who lives in the village. Lord Worplesdon, Nobby's guardian, does not approve of Boko. On arrival, Bertie learns that Florence thinks that Stilton should be an M.P. instead of a village policeman. Stilton believes Bertie is wooing Florence and tells him to leave. At Wee Nooke, Bertie encounters Florence's troublesome young brother Edwin, a boy scout. As one of his daily acts of kindness, Edwin attempts to clean the chimney using gunpowder and paraffin, only to burn down the cottage. Lord Worplesdon blames Bertie for the fire; he invites Jeeves to stay at the Hall, but Bertie has to lodge with Boko. Bertie lost the brooch, so he sends Jeeves to London to obtain a replacement.

"Jeeves tells me that Edwin has succeeded in burning Wee Nooke to the ground. Correct, Bertie?"
"Quite correct. It was his last Friday's act of kindness."

— Boko asks Bertie about the fire[5]

After welcoming Bertie to his cottage, Boko tells Bertie his plan to win Worplesdon's approval: he will pretend to stop a burglar at the Hall, with Bertie playing the role of burglar. Before he can break in, Bertie is interrupted by Edwin. He then runs into Jeeves, who says that Worplesdon and Clam plan to meet in the potting shed. Boko mistakes Clam for an intruder and locks him in the shed, enraging Worplesdon. To improve Boko's standing, Jeeves suggests that Boko come to Worpleson's defense while Bertie insults Worplesdon, but Bertie refuses. Edwin tells Bertie that Florence and Stilton have fallen out. Edwin also found the brooch, and gave it to Florence. She believes that this was a present from Bertie and has renewed their engagement, to Bertie's horror.

Boko, who was once engaged to Florence, agrees to disclose how he alienated her if Bertie insults Worplesdon, but Jeeves reveals that Boko alienated her by kicking Edwin. Bertie decides to do the same, yet Florence actually approves, as Edwin messed up her scrap album. Nobby promises Bertie to show Florence a letter in which he insulted Florence if Bertie insults Worplesdon. Bertie visits his uncle's study, but before the plan can proceed Boko is escorted from the grounds by a gardener. Worplesdon is impressed with Bertie for kicking Edwin. Jeeves suggests to Bertie that Worplesdon and Clam meet in disguise at the fancy-dress ball to take place that night; Bertie suggests this to Worplesdon. Worplesdon wears a Sindbad the Sailor costume that Bertie had brought for himself. Jeeves steals Stilton's police uniform for Bertie so he can attend the ball and persuade Worplesdon to approve Nobby marrying Boko. Worplesdon's negotiations with Clam are successfully concluded by the time Bertie arrives. Worplesdon detests Boko less when he hears that Boko has also kicked Edwin and will shortly be starting a job far away in Hollywood. He approves the marriage.

In the morning, Bertie discovers that Worplesdon has been accidentally locked in Boko's garage overnight. Worplesdon emerges furious with Boko and withdraws his approval of Nobby marrying Boko. Worplesdon is horrified, however, when Jeeves informs him that Lady Agatha, who disapproves of fancy-dress balls, has returned unexpectedly and wants to know where Worplesdon has been. Jeeves suggests that Worplesdon say he spent the evening discussing the wedding plans with Nobby and Boko, then slept at Boko's cottage overnight. Worplesdon agrees, consenting to the marriage again. Stilton tries to arrest Bertie for stealing his uniform, but Worplesdon gives Bertie a false alibi. Edwin has destroyed the insulting letter that Bertie wanted Nobby to show to Florence, but Florence decides to marry Stilton after he resigns from the police force in disgust at Worplesdon's underhanded behaviour. Jeeves confesses to Bertie that he lied about Lady Agatha returning.

The pair escape from Steeple Bumpleigh by car. Bertie tries to remember an expression which he feels sums up recent events, something about Joy, but notes that he already narrated all this before.


One of the stylistic devices used by Wodehouse for comic effect is the transferred epithet, using an adjective to modify a noun rather than the verb of the sentence, as in chapter 5: "I balanced a thoughtful lump of sugar on the teaspoon".[6] Wodehouse employs exaggerated imagery in similes and metaphors, sometimes involving violent imagery that is mitigated either because any injuries that occur are much less serious than they would be in real life, or because actual violence is not taking place. An example of the latter case occurs in chapter 15, when Bertie Wooster compares someone who is suddenly surprised to someone who has been "struck in the small of the back by the Cornish Express".[7] Though Bertie does not often use malapropisms, one is used in chapter 18, after Florence criticizes Stilton by calling him an uncouth Cossack. Bertie misunderstands: "A cossack, I knew, was one of those things clergymen wear, and I wondered why she thought Stilton was like one. An inquiry into this would have been fraught with interest, but before I could institute it she had continued".[8] (Bertie is confusing a Cossack with a cassock.)

Throughout the stories, Jeeves teaches Bertie words and phrases, such as the Latin phrases nolle prosequi and rem acu tetigisti, that become recurring expressions in Bertie's language. This shows the influence that Jeeves has over Bertie. Bertie picks up nolle prosequi from Jeeves in Right Ho, Jeeves, and though Bertie initially uses it simply to signify a refusal, he later varies it in comic ways. For example, he renders the phrase in colloquial terms in chapter 12 of Joy in the Morning, when explaining to Nobby that he could not stand up to Florence:

"And if you think I've got the force of character to come back with a nolle prosequi—"
"A what?"
"One of Jeeves's gags. It means roughly 'Nuts to you!' If, I say, you think I'm capable of asserting myself and giving her the bird, you greatly overestimate the Wooster fortitude."

Jeeves introduces rem acu tetigisti in chapter 4 of Joy in the Morning, translating it as "You have touched the matter with a needle", which Bertie rephrases as "Put my finger on the nub". In addition to using this phrase in later novels, Bertie makes an attempt to repeat it when talking to Nobby Hopwood in chapter 27:

"Exactly," I said. "You have touched the matter with a needle."
"Done what?"
"One of Jeeves's gags," I explained. "Rem something. Latin stuff."[9]

Literary references are common in Wodehouse's stories, with comic changes often being made to the quotations. This is accomplished in a number of ways, such as when Bertie uses quotations in unusual contexts, or paraphrases them using colloquial language. Jeeves also provides ways of altering standard quotations. For example, he occasionally breaks up the familiar rhythm of poetry by inserting an unnecessary "sir" or "madam" into the quotation, as when he quotes from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in chapter 14: "There's not the smallest orb which thou beholdest, sir, but in his motion like an angel sings, still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims".[10]

After Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie becomes more intelligent and more a partner to Jeeves, working more closely with him to solve problems. For example, in Joy in the Morning, Bertie objects to part of Jeeves's plan about the fancy dress ball, suggesting he and Boko should attend it; Jeeves expresses "cordial agreement" and changes his plan accordingly. Bertie also makes a shrewd move at the ball when he influences Worplesdon on Boko's behalf by reminding Worplesdon that Boko had once kicked the bothersome Edwin.[11]

Wodehouse scholar Richard Usborne used Joy in the Morning to highlight the difficulty of translating Wodehouse's English into another language, due to the combination of slang terms and allusions that Wodehouse employs. He compares Wodehouse's original text with a translation of Joy in the Morning into French by Denyse and Benoît de Fanscolombe, published by Amiot-Dumont under the title Jeeves, au secours!. Thus Wodehouse's phrase "to give the little snurge six of the best with a bludgeon" becomes, in French, "flanquer au maudit galopin une volée de martinet".[12]


Wodehouse wrote much of the novel in France during the Phoney War and the German occupation of France, before he was interned for being a British national. In view of the circumstances under which Joy in the Morning was written, Robert McCrum, in his biography of Wodehouse, states regarding the novel: "A more brilliant example of Wodehouse's literary escapism is hard to find".[13] In the 2013 television film Wodehouse in Exile, which depicts this period of P. G. Wodehouse's life, Wodehouse is shown working on the novel in some scenes.

Wodehouse discussed ideas used for the character of Stilton Cheesewright in a letter he wrote to his friend William "Bill" Townend. In the letter, dated 6 April 1940, Wodehouse asked Townend if it were possible for a young peer to become a country policeman with the idea that he could later get into Scotland Yard. Wodehouse stated that the character "has got to be a policeman, because Bertie pinches his uniform in order to go to a fancy dress dance, at which it is vital for him to be present as he has no other costume".[14]

Joy in the Morning was written with elements of England from the early twentieth century, as with the other Jeeves stories, despite being published in 1946. In a letter to Townend, dated 7 March 1946, Wodehouse wondered how this aspect of the novel would be received, but noted optimistically that "my stuff has been out of date since 1914, and nobody has seemed to mind".[15] Wodehouse discussed the same subject in a letter written on 10 April 1946 to writer Compton Mackenzie. In that letter, Wodehouse wrote that his newest novels, including Joy in the Morning, were "definitely historical novels now, as they all deal with a life in which country houses flourish and butlers flit to and fro. I'm hoping that people, in America at any rate, will overlook the fact that they are completely out of date and accept them for their entertainment value. I think they're all pretty funny, but, my gosh, how obsolete!".[16]

Publication historyEdit

The first American edition of Joy in the Morning included illustrations by Paul Galdone, who also illustrated the dust wrapper.[17]


  • The New York Times Book Review (25 August 1946): "Massively plotted, perfunctorily motivated, exquisitely characterized, written in a pleasingly mannered (if not downright euphuistic) prose—one can in the end say no more than that about it, and that much is true of any Wodehouse book. … Maybe Wodehouse uses the same plot over and over again. Whatever he does, it's moderately wonderful, a ray of pale English sunshine in a gray world". The review also comments on the controversy surrounding Wodehouse's wartime broadcasts: "There is, of course, the question of Mr. Wodehouse's 'war guilt.' Upon mature post-war reflection, it turned out to be about equal to the war guilt of the dachshunds which were stoned by super-heated patriots during World War I".[18]
  • In his book Wodehouse at Work (1961), Richard Usborne states that Joy in the Morning was perhaps the best of the author's books: "If I had to pick one as his happiest, best constructed and most jewel-encrusted, I'd say Joy in the Morning".[19]
  • Frances Donaldson, in her biography of Wodehouse, published in 1982, did not rate the book as highly as Usborne did, considering that some of Wodehouse's other novels, including the Jeeves-Wooster stories Right Ho, Jeeves and The Mating Season, were superior.[20]
  • In his 2004 biography of Wodehouse, Robert McCrum states that Joy in the Morning is "thought by a fervent minority to be his masterpiece".[21]
  • Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal (17 May 2013): "With his feckless Bertie Wooster and his omniscient man's man Jeeves at the center of the sublime foolery, Wodehouse, in novel after novel, just kept on letting us smile at a world of privilege and big houses, upstairs and downstairs going gently topsy-turvy. "Joy" is the story of a country weekend from hell at Steeple Bumpleigh. Engagements crumble, jewelry is mislaid, tempers are lost, drinks drunk. Jeeves saves the day, really he saves the world and now has time to read the latest scholarly edition of Spinoza".[22]



The story was adapted into the Jeeves and Wooster episode "Lady Florence Craye Arrives in New York" which first aired on 23 May 1993.[23] There are some differences, including:

  • The episode takes place in New York City rather than in a rural English village.
  • In the episode, the playwright George Caffyn (from Wodehouse's short story "Jeeves and the Chump Cyril") replaces Boko Fittleworth.
  • Worplesdon is not married to Bertie's Aunt Agatha in the episode, and he is Nobby's uncle.
  • In the episode, Bertie buys the new edition of Spinoza's works as a birthday gift for Jeeves.
  • In the episode, Bertie attends the ball dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and George attends as Edward the Confessor; in the original story, Bertie wore Stilton's constable uniform, while Boko dressed as a football player.
  • Stilton, Jeeves, Florence, Nobby and Edwin attend the ball in costume in the episode.
  • The conflicts of the story are resolved via a lightning storm, which gives George Caffyn the opportunity to look heroic by rescuing Worplesdon. Jeeves influences the onlooking reporters into focusing on George's heroism and ignoring the business merger. Florence discovers the torn pages of her novel that Jeeves used to line Bertie's stovepipe hat, and goes back to Stilton when he quotes Spinoza after being shocked by lightning.


Joy in the Morning was adapted for radio as part of the BBC series What Ho! Jeeves starring Michael Hordern as Jeeves and Richard Briers as Bertie Wooster. The adaptation first aired on BBC Radio 4 in seven parts in 1978. The cast also included Peter Woodthorpe as Lord Worplesdon, Jonathan Cecil as Boko Fittleworth, Denise Bryer as Edwin the Boy Scout, Bronwen Williams as Florence Craye,[24] Rosalind Adams as Nobby Hopwood, and Michael Kilgarriff as Stilton Cheesewright.[25]



  1. ^ McIlvaine (1990), pp. 80–81, A65.
  2. ^ Donaldson 1982, p. 294 of Allison & Busby edition
  3. ^ McCrum 2004, p.325
  4. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1947], chapter 1, p. 9.
  5. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1947], chapter 12, p. 113.
  6. ^ Hall (1974), p. 86.
  7. ^ Hall (1974), pp. 44–45.
  8. ^ Thompson (1992), p. 277.
  9. ^ Thompson (1992), pp. 293–295.
  10. ^ Thompson (1992), p. 298.
  11. ^ Thompson (1992), p. 222.
  12. ^ 'The French for Wodehouse': included in Usborne 1961 as an Appendix; shorter version in Usborne 2002
  13. ^ McCrum 2004, p. 329
  14. ^ Wodehouse (2013), p. 290.
  15. ^ Wodehouse (2013), p. 380.
  16. ^ Wodehouse (2013), p. 385.
  17. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 80, A65a.
  18. ^ M., R. (25 August 1946). "Return of a Native". The New York Times Book Review. New York. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  19. ^ Usborne 1961, p. 13
  20. ^ Donaldson 1982, p. 29 of Allison & Busby edition
  21. ^ McCrum 2004, p. 269
  22. ^ Sokolov, Raymond (17 May 2013). "Book Review: Joy in the Morning". The Wall Street Journal. New York. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Jeeves and Wooster Series 4, Episode 2". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  24. ^ "What Ho! Jeeves: Joy in the Morning: 4: Sundry Happenings in a Garden". BBC Genome Project. BBC. 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  25. ^ "What Ho! Jeeves: Joy in the Morning: 7: Jeeves Sails Into Action". BBC Genome Project. BBC. 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.


  • "Joy in the Morning". Bibliography. Russian Wodehouse Society. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  • Donaldson, Frances (1982), P. G. Wodehouse – A Biography, Weidenfeld & Nicolson; reissued 1992 by Allison & Busby.
  • Hall, Robert A., Jr. (1974). The Comic Style of P. G. Wodehouse. Hamden: Archon Books. ISBN 0-208-01409-8.
  • McCrum, Robert (2004), Wodehouse – A Life, Penguin Viking.
  • McIlvaine, Eileen; Sherby, Louise S.; Heineman, James H. (1990). P. G. Wodehouse: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Checklist. New York: James H. Heineman Inc. ISBN 978-0-87008-125-5.
  • Thompson, Kristin (1992). Wooster Proposes, Jeeves Disposes or Le Mot Juste. New York: James H. Heineman, Inc. ISBN 0-87008-139-X.
  • Usborne, Richard (1961), Wodehouse at Work, Herbert Jenkins.
  • Usborne, Richard (2002), Plum Sauce – A P. G. Wodehouse Companion, Ebury Press.
  • Wodehouse, P. G. (2008) [1947]. Joy in the Morning (Reprinted ed.). London: Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0099513766.
  • Wodehouse, P. G. (2013). Ratcliffe, Sophie (ed.). P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0786422883.