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Empress of Blandings

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The Empress of Blandings is a fictional pig in a number of Blandings Castle novels and stories written over a 40-year period by the celebrated English humorist P.G. Wodehouse. The Empress is an enormous black Berkshire sow owned by Lord Emsworth, a befuddled but kindly backwoods peer who is the proprietor of the vast Blandings Castle, located in a golden, and entirely idyllic, era of pre-World War II Shropshire. The Empress, who lives in a "bijou residence" and is considered by the more than slightly dotty Lord Emsworth as the most important member of his large establishment, is the pivotal figure in a number of Blandings Castle books, being the subject of various schemes and plots by both malefactors and well-meaning characters in the convoluted happenings of the Wodehouse tales. In spite of myriad obstacles, however, which frequently involve pig-napping, she generally ends up winning the first prize in the "Fat Pigs" class at the local Agricultural Show.

In one of the more inspired flights of fancy by Wodehouse, a young suitor of one of the typical Blandings Castle ingenues is obliged in the 1947 novel Full Moon to disguise himself as the celebrated (and long dead) Victorian animal artist Sir Edwin Landseer, famous, as it is explained to Lord Emsworth, as the painter of "The Pig at Bay"—the real Landseer being the creator of "The Stag at Bay". His commission: to paint the portrait of the prize-winning piggy, a term that would gain instant dismissal from Lord Emsworth estate if uttered in his presence. After numerous complications of plot, the impersonator is unmasked but gamely attempts to explain himself as being the painter of the well-known "The Pig at Bée", a small village in the French Pyrénées.