Sebastian Faulks' eagerly-anticipated new Jeeves and Wooster novel, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, will be published on November 6 by Hutchinson, who also publish Wodehouse's later novels.
Earlier in the year, the publishers promised that the new novel would "be faithful to the history and personality of Wodehouse's characters but by shining a different light on them will also show how robust, durable and lovable these creations are."
The adventures of the often gullible and ever-so-slightly dim and impressionable Bertie Wooster and his more sage butler Jeeves have never been out of print since Wodehouse first introduced the inimitable pair in the short story, Extricating Young Gussie in 1915.
Jeeves and Wooster featured in a host of further short stories and novels, the sequence ending with Aunts Aren't Gentlemen in 1974. Wodehouse died the following year, in 1975, aged 94. Aside from the characters' thriving print existence, a successful TV series starred Stephen Fry playing Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster.
Faulks (born 1953) is the bestselling author of the first world war novel, Birdsong, and many other successful novels. He has been a fan of Wodehouse ever since he began reading as a boy. In his 2011 book, Faulks on Fiction, he wrote that a particular scene from the Jeeves and Wooster novel, The Mating Season was probably his favourite "in the whole canon of English literature".
While Faulks was fully aware that Wodehouse was "inimitable", he assured the possibly imperturbable fans of Jeeves and Wooster that he would be doing the very best he could. He would write the work “with respect and with gratitude for all the pleasure the books have given, but also with a light heart."
He declared his wish that the story would “ring bells with aficionados but also bring new readers to these wonderful books." Faulks’ authorised 2008 Bond novel, Devil May Care, sold in excess of 44,000 copies in its first four days and was mostly welcomed by the critics.
Robert McCrum, author of a biography of Wodehouse and associate editor of The Observer called Faulks "a brave man" for tackling Jeeves and Wooster. "Wodehouse is a much tougher egg than Fleming and 007/Bond," said McCrum. “For a PG Wodehouse fan to write a new Jeeves novel is a bit like asking a devout Christian to come up with a fifth gospel. It looks perilously like Mission Impossible to me, but I wish Faulks the very best of luck. If anyone can pull it off, he can."