English language

P.G. Wodehouse

Sir P.G. (Pelham Grenville, nicknamed ‘Plum’) Wodehouse (1881-1975), from Surrey, became one of Britain’s best-loved and most accomplished writers. His literary genius produced unique comic imagery, e.g. “It was one of those still evenings you get in the summer, when you can hear a snail clear its throat a mile away”.

Of his success in New York and later Hollywood, where he co-wrote scripts and lyrics, he said: “A writer in America at that time who went about without three names was practically going about naked”, wittily conveying his own providential advantage. He wrote constantly, up to his dying day, and published 96 books, many with ongoing, never-ageing characters such as Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves. With this pairing Wodehouse revelled in portraying a kind of role reversal, the valet being much more clever, well-read and strategically-minded than his trouble-prone upper-class employer.

Wodehouse delighted in setting all his stories in the Edwardian era of his young adulthood, pre-WW1, in a golden age of a class structure just about to loosen up. His female characters always held their own and romantic liaisons were easily entered into. That settled, Wodehouse would then take the reader on a farcical adventure that always ended cheerfully.

(Top images L to R [cropped]: Adam Bowie at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0  & Bradford Timeline at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0)

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