As a peer of the realm, Clarence, Ninth Earl of Emsworth, has an occasional duty to leave the Empress of Blandings, surely the most considerable pig in the whole world, and travel to London for the opening of parliament. It comes hard to him, for he has a proper sense of the priorities in life, which rate pigs and flowerbeds higher than politicians.
But no sooner has he returned to Blandings than his real problems begin: the dastardly Duke of Dunstable is out to steal the Empress. His sister Lady Constance has inflicted on him a particularly nasty new secretary. And the Church Lads' Brigade are camped all over his lawns.
Thank God for the Earl of Ickenham, better known as Uncle Fred, whose own particularly devious brand of sweetness and light aims to banish blackmailers and pig-stealers and restore true love all over the castle grounds.
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The author of almost a hundred books and the creator of Jeeves, Blandings Castle, Psmith, Ukridge, Uncle Fred and Mr Mulliner, P.G. Wodehouse was born in 1881 and educated at Dulwich College. After two years with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank he became a full-time writer, contributing to a variety of periodicals. As well as his novels and short stories, he wrote lyrics for musical comedies, and at one stage had five shows running simultaneously on Broadway. At the age of 93, in the New Year's Honours List of 1975, he received a long-overdue Knighthood, only to die on St Valentine's Day some 45 days later.