Jeeves and Wooster books have been rewritten to remove prose by PG Wodehouse deemed “unacceptable” by publishers, the Telegraph can reveal.
Original passages in the comic novels have been purged or reworked for new editions issued by Penguin Random House.
Trigger warnings have also been added to revised editions telling would-be Wodehouse readers that his themes and characters may be “outdated”.
One warning states that the writer’s prose has been altered because it was judged to be “unacceptable” by Penguin, a publishing house which enlists the services of sensitivity readers.
The disclaimer printed on the opening pages of the 2023 reissue of Thank you, Jeeves states: “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aware that this book was published in the 1930s and contains language, themes and characterisations which you may find outdated.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.”
The warning adds that the changes “do not affect the story” of the novel, which is the first full-length work to feature the famed comic creations of idle gentleman Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Reginald Jeeves, a pair portrayed by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in a 1990s ITV adaptation.
The Telegraph can reveal that edits have also been made to the 2022 edition of Right Ho, Jeeves, which carries the same disclaimer warning the reader of outdated content, and stating that changes have been made to Wodehouse’s original text.
An examination of the revised Wodehouse novels reveals that racial terminology has been removed or replaced throughout.
In the 1934 novel Right Ho, Jeeves, newly reissued by Penguin, a racial term used to describe a “minstrel of the old school” has been removed.
In Thank You, Jeeves, whose plot hinges on the performance of a minstrel troupe, numerous racial terms have been removed or altered, both in dialogue spoken by the characters in the book, and from first-person narration in the voice of Bertie.
A number of Jeeves and Wooster books are being re-released by Penguin, despite previous editions being issued only slightly more than a decade ago. The previous editions were not censored.
These include an upcoming new edition of Summer Lightning from the Blandings Castle series, the standalone novel Uncle Dynamite, and the story collection The Inimitable Jeeves.
Penguin has been asked to confirm whether alterations have been made to Wodehouse’s prose in these texts, and if they will also be printed with trigger warnings, like other works in the run of new editions.
It is understood that trustees of the writer's literary estate control the bulk of the copyrights for Wodehouse, who lived from 1881 to 1975, and became noted as a prolific author of more than 90 books, a body of work which is often hailed as the funniest in the English language.