Florence Craye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Lady Florence Craye is a fictional character who appears in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories and novels. Lady Florence, the daughter of Percy Craye, Earl of Worplesdon and elder sister to Edwin, a nasty little runtish type of lad, is the sometime fiancee of Bertie Wooster. At the opening of the story "Jeeves Takes Charge", which relates how Jeeves first came to be employed by Bertie, the latter is (unusually for him, as later stories show) quite enthusiastic about this state of affairs, citing Florence's "wonderful profile," repeatedly, and even undertaking to read a book titled "Types of Ethical Theory," which she has foisted upon him. However, the friendly relations soon deteriorate, as Bertie discovers that she was a little too controlling for his liking, and had dark plans afoot to try to make him read Nietzsche.

"The root of the trouble was that she was one of those intellectual girls, steeped to the gills in serious purpose, who are unable to see a male soul without wanting to get behind it and shove." - Joy in the Morning

It is later revealed that her staff refer to Lady Florence as "Lady Caligula". In all subsequent stories, Florence is regarded by Bertie as a dangerous threat to his happy bachelor life, and on multiple occasions he also attempts to detach from her such friends of his who fall prey to her overbearing charms. She is described as tall, willowy, blond, and "seen from the side, most awfully good-looking," but her manner is forceful and spectacularly icy whenever her will is crossed. A little of this seems to go a long way with most of Bertie's saner friends.

Lady Florence Craye is the author of one literary novel, Spindrift, which receives some critical applause, and evidently allows her admittance to the Bloomsbury Group. Bertie is unimpressed by the book, while Jeeves delicately characterizes it as a "somewhat immature production," but it is apparently reasonably well received in literary circles, as Bertie states that Florence is "like ham and eggs with the boys with the bulging foreheads round Bloomsbury way." In the television series, Jeeves' opinion of the book is left in no doubt when he uses its pages to line the hat of Bertie's Abraham Lincoln costume. One of Florence's admirers, Percy Gorringe, adapts "Spindrift" for the stage; the production promptly flops. Florence's literary endeavours are referenced in several books, notably in a scene in "Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit", when she induces Bertie to take her to a garish nightclub for research purposes, and then manages to get him arrested when the club is raided.

She becomes engaged to the burly police officer, ex-school chum D'arcy "Stilton" Cheesewright; nevertheless, on more than one occasion, Bertie accidentally becomes engaged to her again, much to the irritation of Stilton, who threatens repeatedly to break his spine in an increasing number of places. Bertie is eventually able to break the engagement with the help of a scheme thought up by Jeeves; Florence and Stilton, however, part company for good in a late novel. A series of other young men, foes and chums of Bertie's alike, also become entangled - Florence seems to get engaged almost as often as Bertie himself - but a mutual friend, Zenobia "Nobby" Hopwood, gives it as her opinion that it's Bertie she's always really wanted to marry. Any breaking of her current engagement therefore inevitably puts Bertie in dire peril of matrimony. In the same novel, "Joy in the Morning", he describes her as the worst of the worst of all his prospective fiancees.

Midway through the Saga, her father marries Bertie's Aunt Agatha, and Florence develops a close relationship with this most terrifying member of the Wooster clan; Bertie observes that even when he was deep under the ether of attraction, he had had the unnerving feeling sometimes that Florence was like someone in training to be an aunt.

In the television series Jeeves and Wooster, Florence was also the niece of Sir Watkyn Bassett, although this wasn't the case in the original stories. By the end of the series, she is considered to be one of the most unpleasant of all his various financees. Bertie only succeeds in permanently destroying her ambitions by informing that he is engaged to Madeline Bassett, and is going to marry her the very same day.

As a sort of footnote: Florence already makes an appearance in the Reggie-Pepper-story "Disentangling Old Duggie". It was published earlier than the Jeeves books (in 1912, according to 'Gutenberg', can be found in what Gutenberg calls a 'Wodehouse Miscellany'), but Florence is years older. She has two brothers, Edwin and Douglas, both old enough to get married. Florence is the same bossy type, but Edwin is very different from the boy scout in the Jeeves books. And Florence's father is very far from marrying Aunt Agatha. He spends a number of years in France and, after returning, marries a young lady, a palmist, who had been engaged to both brothers before. It is obvious that Wodehouse disregarded this early story when writing about Bertie and Jeeves.