The Honourable Frederick Threepwood is a character in the Blandings stories by P. G. Wodehouse. A member of the Drones Club affectionately known as "Freddie", he is the second son of Lord Emsworth, and a somewhat simple-minded youth who brings his father nothing but trouble.
Life and character
Freddie's youth was a rather wild and reckless time. He was expelled from Eton for "breaking out at night and roaming the streets of Windsor in a false moustache", and was sent down from Oxford, where he had been good friends with "Beefy" Bingham, for "pouring ink from a second-story window on the junior dean of his college". Despite two years at an expensive London crammer's, he failed to qualify for the army. During this time he gathered a wide circle of shady and dubious friends, mostly involved in the turf, including the unpleasant Mr. R Jones, and an equally broad set of gambling debts.
When Lord Emsworth is required to pay off £500 worth of said debts, Freddie is recalled to Blandings Castle, the family's traditional prison for straying youth, where he is kept for his own safety, despite the discomfort this causes his father; this is where we find him when we first meet Freddie, at the start of Something Fresh.
Thin and of medium height, Freddie is an amiable chap, though not the sharpest of minds. He is fond of the cinema, and indeed at one point writes a film scenario, which he successfully sells to the Super-Ultra-Art Film Company for $1000. He is also a great lover of detective fiction, and is awed to meet Ashe Marson, creator of Gridley Quayle, Investigator.
A fan of a pretty face, at some point in his London days he fell for a girl on the stage, Joan Valentine, and bombarded her with letters and poetry to little avail, a fact which threatens to cause some embarrassment when he becomes engaged to American heiress Aline Peters. This engagement, miraculous in the eyes of the family, comes to nothing, however, as Freddie invites George Emerson, Aline's other suitor, to Blandings, and loses her to him.
Freddie's eye for a pretty girl is once again in evidence in Leave it to Psmith, where he is enamoured of Eve Halliday, another girl he loses to a better man, but in "The Custody of the Pumpkin" he woos and elopes with Aggie Donaldson, daughter of Donaldson the U.S. dog-biscuit king.
He moves to America to work for his father-in-law, becoming a successful part of the Dog-Joy empire, only returning occasionally to attend weddings or to push his products in the English market. Freddie and Aggie (short for "Niagara", where her parents honeymooned) now live in Great Neck, New York, on the North Shore of Long Island. (Wodehouse himself lived in Great Neck for a time, beginning in 1918.)
Freddie's good fortune and business success changes his personality completely. When his father visits in the story "Birth of a Salesman", set three years after Freddie's marriage, Emsworth finds that "in those three years some miracle had transformed [Freddie] from a vapid young London lizard into a go-getter, a live wire and a man who thought on his feet and did it now." Freddie talks of nothing but Donaldson's Dog Joy -- its health benefits for the modern dog, and his own part in spreading the word to eager dog owners. Emsworth is rattled by the thought that "after years of regarding this child as a drone and a wastrel, the child as now regarding him as one. A world's worker himself, Freddie eyed with scorn one who, like Lord Emsworth, neither toiled nor spun... And if there is one thing that pierces the armour of an English father of the upper classes it is to be looked down on by his younger son." Stung, Emsworth regains his confidence by helping a young woman sell richly bound encyclopedias of Sport door to door.
Freddie appears in four Blandings novels and seven short stories:
- Something Fresh (1915)
- Leave it to Psmith (1923)
- "The Custody of the Pumpkin" (1924, collected in Blandings Castle)
- "Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best" (1926, collected in Blandings Castle)
- "Company for Gertrude" (1928, collected in Blandings Castle)
- "The Go-getter" (1931, collected in Blandings Castle)
- Full Moon (1947)
- "Birth of a Salesman" (1950, collected in Nothing Serious)
- "Sticky Wicket at Blandings" (1966, collected in Plum Pie)
- "Life with Freddie" (1966, collected in Plum Pie)
- Sunset at Blandings (1977)
In several adaptations of Blandings shorts, made by the BBC and broadcast in 1967, Freddie was played by Derek Nimmo. Unfortunately, none of the episodes featuring Freddie remain in the BBC archive. In the 2013 TV series Blandings he is played by Jack Farthing.
- P.G. Wodehouse, Portrait of a Master, David Jasen. New York: Mason & Charter, 1974.
- "Birth of a Salesman". Collected in Nothing Serious. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950.
- "I saw her point. I recollected Freddie Threepwood telling me that there had been trouble at Blandings about a cousin of his wanting to marry a curate. In that case, I gathered, the strain had been eased by the discovery that the fellow was the heir of a well-to-do Liverpool shipping millionaire: but, as a broad, general rule, parents do not like their daughters marrying curates, and I take it that the same thing applies to uncles with their nieces." The Code of the Woosters. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1938.