Penguin Removes ‘Unacceptable’ Words from P. G. Wodehouse Novels, Adds Trigger Warnings for ‘Outdated’ Language

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Penguin Random House has edited the books of English author P. G. Wodehouse to remove prose deemed “unacceptable.”

Wodehouse joins a growing list of prominent authors, deceased and living, whose works have been tinkered with by sensitivity readers, including Roald Dahl, R. L. Stine, and Agatha Christie. Penguin Random House, which recently relented to a degree on the Dahl edits, has released new editions of the Jeeves stories that include trigger warnings, the Telegraph reported.

The warning on the opening pages of the 2023 reissue of Thank You, Jeeves reads: “Please be aware that this book was published in the 1930s and contains language, themes and characterisations which you may find outdated. In the present edition we have sought to edit, minimally, words that we regard as unacceptable to present-day readers.”

It goes on to state that the changes do not affect the story itself. The 2022 edition of Right Ho, Jeeves has also been edited and features the same disclaimer.

Wodehouse, who died in 1975, is known for authoring over 90 books, his oeuvre often hailed as the funniest in the English language. The Jeeves stories follow the idle upper-class gentleman Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Reginald Jeeves. The stories served as the basis for the well-known British comedy Jeeves and Wooster, which starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The show was broadcast on ITV in the 1990s.

Racial terminology has been removed throughout the novels. A racial term used to describe a “minstrel of the old school” has been removed in Right Ho, Jeeves. In Thank You, Jeeves, whose plot hinges on the performance of a minstrel troupe, numerous terms have been removed or altered, both in the dialogue between characters and from the first-person narration of Bertie Wooster.

Other Wodehouse novels that have been edited include Summer Lightning, Uncle Dynamite, and the story collection The Inimitable Jeeves.

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