My Man Jeeves
by P. G. Wodehouse
George Newnes, 1919
My Man Jeeves is the first published collection of stories featuring Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. These stories had all been published previously in The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, and/or The Strand Magazine, and many would be revised and republished in the later collection Carry On, Jeeves (1925).
At this time in his career, Bertie is taking some time to experience the joys of living in New York, having come to America to save a cousin from an injudicious marriage, and having failed in this endeavor. Fearful of bearding his Aunt Agatha in her den, he rents an apartment and continues his soon-to-become familiar ways in America. However, we do get to visit England in another set of stories, those featuring Reggie Pepper. Reggie never took off in the same way that Bertie did, and Wodehouse later re-wrote a number of the Reggie stories, often turning them into Bertie and Jeeves stories. Many of these stories appeared, often rewritten, in later story collections as well.
Leave it to Jeeves: Later revised and retitled as The Artistic Career of Corky in Carry On, Jeeves. A want-to-be artist dependent on his uncle's generosity enlists Bertie and Jeeves' help in convincing his uncle to support his marriage to a chorus-line dancer. They come up with a brilliant plan to impress the uncle, but this backfires when the girl in question ends up marrying the uncle. With Jeeves help, Corky turns his angst into a profitable artistic endeavor, and all is right with the world.
Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest: A friend of Bertie's great-aunt Agatha appears unexpectedly at Bertie's New York apartment, and announces that she is leaving her son there with Bertie while she travels across America (her son gets train sick). The son, advertised as a calm vegetarian teetotaler, turns out to be a raging buck when out of his mother's care, and winds up in no small amount of trouble. Jeeves cleverly smooths everything over, and all is well.
Jeeves and the Hard-boiled Egg: One of Bertie's friends has been living a lie -- he had promised his uncle to work on a ranch (the why is not clearly explained), but instead has been bumming around in New York. They come up with a scheme for the friend to take over Bertie's apartments, pretending he is the owner, and a successful businessman to boot. This plot quickly falls to pieces when the uncle decides that his nephew is clearly doing well enough that he no longer needs his allowance. Jeeves prompts them into some gentle blackmail, saving the day.
Absent Treatment: A Reggie Pepper story; no valet in this one, just a young man who tries to help out his friends. In this case, a particularly absent-minded friend gets into trouble with his wife, who unreasonably expects him to remember things like anniversaries and birthdays, and leaves him until he can tell her when her birthday is. They do a bit of detective work, but it's considerably more difficult to discover/recall her birthday than either expected.
Helping Freddie: A Reggie Pepper story in this collection, but rewritten as a Jeeves and Bertie story, Fixing it for Freddie in the Carry On, Jeeves collection. Reggie tries to help a friend impress a girl by kidnapping a young child, only to discover he has the wrong child. High jinx ensue.
Rallying Round Old George: Another Reggie Pepper story, this one later to be rewritten as a Mr. Mulliner story; George and Alfred in Plum Pie. It is a particularly fast-moving tale of deception and comedic errors, with engagements, fortunes, and identities lost and regained with alarming speed. In very brief summary, George, upon becoming engaged, kisses the wrong woman, becomes drunk, assaults a man, and in an unrelated incident loses a fortune; Reggie helps him, but every plan backfires in an unexpected way, and we are left with a general impression that things will probably be all right, but sorely in need of an epilogue.
Doing Clarence a Bit of Good: Another Reggie Pepper, later to be rewritten as the Jeeves story Jeeves Makes an Omelette in the collection A Few Quick Ones. Reggie is asked a favor by his ex-fiancée; she wants him to commit a small, harmless crime for her. Naturally, things go awry, and all ends badly, except perhaps for Clarence.
The Aunt and the Sluggard: Back to Bertie and Jeeves for the finale. Bertie gives a friend the use of his address -- not his apartment, but his address -- to help trick an elderly aunt into thinking he lives in New York. When the aunt unexpectedly shows up in New York, Bertie graciously cedes the apartment, and Jeeves, to friend and aunt. He finds that life alone in a hotel room is unbearable, and relies on Jeeves to dispose of the aunt.