The Russian Wodehouse Society
Russian Russian | Forum | Contact Us
Search:    
Life of P G Wodehouse
Main page / Biography / Life of P G Wodehouse

Based on the exhibition at Guildford Museum, England, October 1999
Written by Tony Ring, Editor, Wooster Sauce (the Journal of
The PG Wodehouse Society (UK))

Page 1
15 OCTOBER, 1881
While Eleanor Wodehouse was in England, her husband Ernest staying behind in
Hong Kong, the third of their four sons was born at 1 Vale Place, Guildford.
1 Vale Place was part of an isolated block of four houses built around 1860,
but has now become 59 Epsom Road, and may be identified by a commemorative
plaque.
Page 2
PELHAM GRENVILLE
Wodehouse was none too complimentary about his parents' choice of names for
him.  In a preface to Something Fresh he wrote:
'At the font I remember protesting vigorously when the clergyman uttered the
names, but he stuck to his point.  "Be that as it may," he said firmly,
having waited for a lull, "I name thee Pelham Grenville."  Apparently I was
called after a godfather, and not a thing to show for it except a small
silver mug which I lost in 1897.'
He spoke further on the subject through the voice of Bertie Wooster who,
when hearing that a Mr Trotter, a fellow-guest at Brinkley Court, had been
christened Lemuel Gengulphus, and reflecting on his Uncle Tom's second name
of Portarlington, said to Jeeves:
"Golly, Jeeves, there's some raw work pulled at the font from time to time,
is there not?"
Commonsense prevailed, and at least within his family, his first name was
abbreviated to 'Plum'.
Page 3
A LITERARY DEBUT
1887
'From my earliest years I had always wanted to be a writer.  I started
turning out the stuff at the age of five.  (What I was doing before that, I
don't remember.  Just loafing, I suppose.)'
At the age of five, he wrote a poem which was subsequently reproduced,
complete with spelling mistakes in Captain magazine in April 1907.
The first contribution to a magazine for which he was paid was an article
called Some Aspects of Game Captaincy, written while still at school, which
won a prize of half a guinea and was published in The Public School Magazine
in February 1900.
Page 4
DULWICH COLLEGE - Sport
1894-1900
Plum attended several prep schools before landing at Dulwich College in
1894.  He loved his time there and achieved success across a broad spectrum:
The Alleynian Editor
First XV Rugby 1900
First XI Cricket 1899 & 1900
High Jump Winner 1900
It is noteworthy that while at school he was also an excellent boxer, but
had to give up that sport on medical grounds - his eyesight was already
deteriorating.
Page 5
DULWICH COLLEGE
Academic Studies and Other Activities
Plum's studies included many classical authors and poets whose works were to
provide the basis for much of his superb dialogue, allusion and studied
misquotation in years to come.
He was an active participant in end-of-term concerts, singing Hybrias the
Cretan and joining in a performance of Aristophanes' Frogs.
As Editor of the Alleynian he demonstrated the first snatches of the
humorous style he was to display to such great effect in the future.
Page 6
THE HONG KONG AND SHANGHAI BANK
1900-1902
When he left Dulwich Plum expected to go to Oxford, but the family finances
had taken a dive, and he had to go out to work.
For two years he attended the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank during the day and
in the evenings wrote stories, poems and brief articles for magazines and
daily papers.
His time at the bank provided him with raw material for one of his first
adult novels, Psmith in the City, written in 1908.  There can be no doubt
that aspects of this book are autobiographical.
"Only two things connected with the banking industry did I really get into
my head.  One was that from now on all I would be able to afford in the way
of lunch would be a roll and butter and a cup of coffee, which after the
lavish meals of school shook me to my foundations.  The other was that if I
got to the office late three mornings in a month I would lose my Christmas
bonus.  One of the great sights in the City in the years 1901-1902 was me
rounding into the straight with my coat-tails flying and my feet going
pitter pitter pat and just making it across the threshold while thousands
cheered.  It kept me in great condition and gave me a rare appetite for the
daily roll and butter."
Page 7
FIRST STEPS IN JOURNALISM
1901-1909
P G Wodehouse well aware that many of the items he submitted to papers and
magazines in the early days were poor, and he even wrote a spoof piece about
a person with a hobby of collecting rejection slips, which was published.
He used personal contacts to obtain an opportunity to deputise on the diary
column of The Globe, and eventually became the diary's senior writer.
Between 1900 and 1908 he kept a diary of earnings from his writing.  Some of
the journals mentioned are listed on the next sheet.
Plum was to contribute essays and brief items to journals throughout his
life.  He had about 250 items published by Punch alone.
Page 8
JOURNALS WHICH ACCEPTED PLUM'S EARLY WORK
The journals which accepted his early offerings included:
 Answers
Books of Today and   Books of Tomorrow
Cassells
Daily Chronicle
Daily Express
Daily Mail
Echo
Evening News
Evening News
Evening Standard
Free-Lance
Fun
Globe
Grand
Ideas
John Bull Year Book
Little Folks
London Opinion
Novel
Onlooker
Pearson's (UK and US)
Public School Magazine
Punch
Royal
Sandow's Magazine
Scraps
St James' Gazette
Sportsman
Stage and Sport
Strand
Sunday Magazine
The Captain
The Illustrated Sporting   and Dramatic News
Tit-Bits
Today
VC
Weekly Telegraph
Wheel of Fortune
Windsor
World
  Page 9
THE FIRST NOVEL
1902
P G Wodehouse's first novel was the school story The Pothunters, the first
half of which was serialised in The Public School Magazine.
Unfortunately it ceased publication in March 1902, and the entire second
half of the book was summarised in less than a page of the final issue in
the form of a letter by one of the main characters to his brother,
explaining the outcome of the various aspects of the plot.
Page 10
THE SCHOOL STORIES
1902-1909
For almost the whole of the next decade, many of the books P G Wodehouse
wrote were based on the subject he knew best:  school.
During this period he produced six school novels (five of which were
serialised before publication) starting with The Pothunters and finishing
with Mike, an amalgam of two serials about Mike Jackson, in the second of
which we met Psmith for the first time.
In 1908 he also wrote a blood-and-thunder school story serial for Chums
called The Luck Stone, under the pseudonym Basil Wyndham.
Of the thirty plus short school stories he wrote in this period, there was
only one contemporary book collection, The Tales of St Austin's, and most of
the remainder had to wait until 1997 for their second appearance, as Tales
of Wrykyn and Elsewhere.
Page 11
A MOVE TO EMSWORTH
1903
After he resigned from the bank in September 1902 Plum took a five-week
appointment with the Globe, had his first book published, and made the first
of many hundred contributions to Punch.
Early in 1903 he was introduced to Herbert Westbrook, who invited him to
Emsworth where he soon rented Threepwood Cottage in Record Road.  Wodehouse
could often be seen at Emsworth Hall school, where Westbrook worked, playing
cricket with the boys and masters and helping with the school's drama
productions.
Emsworth Museum has a permanent Wodehouse feature.
Page 12
CRICKET
1903 - 1911
Plum retained an interest in cricket throughout his life, and took his own
teams back to play Dulwich College.
He played several times at Lord's, for the Authors (usually against the
Actors), and his most satisfying moment must have been opening the batting
there with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
He also played in Doyle's cricket weeks at his home, Windlesham, and for,
amongst others, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, and J M Barrie's team, the
Allahakbarries.
He acted as Secretary at the founding meeting in 1936 of Hollywood Cricket
Club, for whom stars such as David Niven and Boris Karloff played in its
early days.
Page 13
EARLY THEATRICAL ACTIVITY
1904 - 1907
In 1904 Wodehouse wrote the lyric Put Me In My Little Cell which was added
to the show Sergeant Brue during its run at the Strand and Prince of Wales
Theatres.
On March 19, 1906 he took a job with Seymour Hicks (at a fee of ?2 per week)
as a contributor of topical encore verses for The Beauty of Bath at the
Aldwych (and then Hicks) theatres, working with Jerome Kern.
Later in 1907 he contributed two lyrics to The Gay Gordons at the Aldwych,
and in December took a job, again at ?2 per week, as resident lyrist at the
Gaiety.
Page 14
PLUM'S FIRST VISIT TO AMERICA
1904
The principal incentive for Plum's first visit to America was a boyish
reverence for America's pugilists.  He was able to meet Kid McCoy at his
White Plains training camp, and used his experience to produce a series of
short stories about Kid Brady for the American market.
Kid Brady also made a vital appearance in Psmith Journalist, written in
1909, though not published as a book until 1915.
Page 15
OTHER EARLY BOOKS
1906-1909
Somehow, Plum managed to find time to write four other books, in totally
different styles and with varying success.
As early as 1906, in Love Among The Chickens, his first adult novel, we were
introduced to the character Ukridge.  This story was based on true tales
about a friend of PGW's school friend Bill Townend, whom he paid generously
for the information.
In Not George Washington it is possible to see auto-biographical pointers to
Wodehouse's own early struggles to make a living from writing.
William Tell Told Again was a commissioned book in which he retold the
familiar story to support prints and verses supplied by the publisher.
The Swoop was a short fantasy spoofing the invasion scares prevalent at the
time.  Its premise was an England invaded by nine foreign armies
simultaneously; its solution was to have the country saved by a young Boy
Scout, Clarence Chugwater.
Page 16
SECOND VISIT TO THE USA
1909
Within days of arriving in America for the second time Plum had sold two
stories for "untold wealth".
So he resigned from the Globe by telegram and stayed for several months.
While in New York he saw sufficient of the ways of the street gangs, the
political corruption and the extensive bribery in the police force to
inspire his two main novels representing political or social commentary:
Psmith, Journalist and A Gentleman of Leisure.
Page 17
MARRIAGE
1914
On September 30, 1914 Pelham Grenville Wodehouse married Ethel Newton, a
widow whom he had met in New York eight weeks earlier.  She came complete
with a daughter, Leonora, whom Plum was to adore and adopt legally.
The ceremony took place at The Little Church Around the Corner, on East 29th
Street, New York, just off Madison Square.  A plaque in the body of the
church today commemorates the wedding.
Plum and Ethel were happily married for over 60 years.  Ethel, who had been
born in 1885, outlived Plum by nine years and died, aged 99, in 1984.
Page 18
FIRST WORLD WAR
1914 - 1918
Wodehouse was rejected for military call-up owing to bad eyesight - the
reason why he had been forced to give up boxing while at school.
He spent most of the war in the United States and tried again to join up at
an allied forces recruitment centre.
Again he was rejected.
Page 19
VANITY FAIR
1914 - 1919
Having been rejected for military service, Wodehouse found a niche with the
prestige American monthly journal Vanity Fair.  He made a substantial
contribution to its pages for five years, having as many as five pieces in
any individual issue.
During this period he used a variety of names for different types of
article, including J Plum, Pelham Grenville, Melrose Granger, P
Brooke-Haven, J Walker Williams, C P West and, of course, his own name.
His most important role was as the paper's dramatic critic, and it is
reputedly while attending the opening night of Very Good Eddie that he met
Guy Bolton and came across Jerome Kern once more.
Page 20
THE FIRST BLANDINGS NOVEL
1915
Something New, published in the UK as Something Fresh, represented Wodehouse
's breakthrough to real success.
Written in the US, it was offered as a serial to, and accepted by, the
Saturday Evening Post, the most prestigious weekly journal in the United
States.
His next 27 novels were all serialised in the US (and most of them in the UK
as well) before book publication.  Half were also in the Saturday Evening
Post, and his fee from the Post for a serial increased over a period of 25
years from $3,500 to $40,000.
Something New was significant for another reason:  it represented the first
appearance of Lord Emsworth, Freddie Threepwood and Blandings Castle.
page 21
THE FIRST JEEVES STORY
1915
There are a number of landmarks in relation to stories about Jeeves and
Bertie Wooster, perhaps the most enduring of all Wodehouse's creations.
The first story in which Jeeves appeared was Extricating Young Gussie, in
which he had just two lines and Bertie did not have a surname.  Published in
Saturday Evening Post shortly after the serial Something New finished, it
was included in the short story collection The Man With Two Left Feet.
My Man Jeeves, a book of eight stories including four about Bertie Wooster
and Jeeves, was published in 1919, and three further collections, wholly
consisting of Bertie and Jeeves episodes, came out in 1923, 1925 and 1930.
In 1934 the first two novels, Thank You, Jeeves and Right Ho, Jeeves
appeared, and another nine would follow at regular intervals.  Wodehouse
only wrote two more short stories featuring this pair after that.
Page 22
THE USE OF REAL NAMES
Throughout his established career
Wodehouse regularly used real names and incidents from his experience to
give his books a sound base.  His early days at Emsworth provide good
examples.
Many place names in the Emsworth locality were given to characters in his
books, especially in the Blandings series, including Stockheath, Bosham,
Warblington, Hayling and Havant.  Some of the houses he stayed at in the
area were used in a similar way (Threepwood, Rogate Lodge).  Emsworth Hall
school was the basis for Sanstead House school (from The Little Nugget).
The demise of the Emsworth oyster beds through pollution was reflected in
the short story Something to Worry About.
Page 23
BROADWAY and the ANNUS MIRABILIS
1917
After their chance meeting at the opening of Very Good, Eddie, Plum joined
Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern in a determined campaign to revolutionise the
American musical comedy, and Plum's lyrics did much to help them achieve
their objectives.
At one point in 1917 he was involved in five shows appearing simultaneously
on Broadway, a record not matched by an Englishman until Andrew Lloyd-Webber
some 75 years later.
In all he was to write more than 250 lyrics, providing all the songs for 11
shows, and contributing to 20 others.  He helped write the book (libretto)
for 17 of them, generally with Guy Bolton.
Among the composers he worked with, other than Jerome Kern (easily his main
composer) were George Gershwin, Ivor Novello, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin,
Ivan Caryll, Emmerich Kalman and Rudolf Friml.
Page 24
GOLF STORIES
1919 - 1950
Between 1919 and 1950, Wodehouse wrote 29 stories narrated by The Oldest
Member, whose sympathetic shoulder was utilised, for the purpose of crying
on, by a significant percentage of the members of the golf club.
Plum himself was a keen golfer, with a handicap never lower than the
mid-teens, and an ambition when driving which aimed at length rather than
accuracy.
"I never win a match.  I spent my golfing life out of bounds.  I never even
count my strokes.  I know I can never beat anyone who putts along down the
middle.  All the same I get more fun out of my golf than any man I know when
I am hitting my drives."
Page 25
FOREIGN TRANSLATIONS
1920 onwards
Almost all of Wodehouse's work has been translated into foreign languages,
despite the apparent difficulty of coping with so many quotations or
misquotations from English literature and his unending supply of unique
metaphors.  The first recorded translations were into Swedish in 1920 and
Finnish in 1923.
New translations are still appearing in many Western European countries such
as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, to which must be added the
Eastern European languages of Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian and Estonian.
In total his works appear in well over twenty languages, those with most
titles being Swedish, Dutch and Italian.
Page 26
THE TRANSATLANTIC COMMUTER
1920s and 1930s
Especially during these two decades, Plum was crossing the Atlantic by liner
as though it was a short bus journey, in order to fulfil his theatrical and
literary obligations.
One unexpected result was that his tax position became exceptionally
complicated.  There were no provisions as there are today to prevent someone
having to pay full tax to more than one government on the same income.
Eventually the Wodehouses found the best legal solution to the problem was
to buy a house in Le Touquet, France, where they lived when in Europe from
the mid-1930s until 1940.
Page 27
STRAIGHT PLAYS
1925 onwards
Plum dabbled in adaptations of two of his stories in the period 1911-1913,
but did not seriously aspire to become a playwright until the mid 1920s.
He approached the task in a number of ways, with, by his standards, mixed
success.  Frequently he would collaborate with another writer such as Ian
Hay or Guy Bolton.
He also adapted the works of foreign writers such as Ferenc Molnar,
Ladislaus Fodor, Siegfried Geyer and Sacha Guitry.
The late Joan Hickson played her first three West End roles in minor parts
in A Damsel in Distress, Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and Leave It To Psmith
between 1928 and 1930.
In all Plum was involved in writing about 20 straight plays; the most
frequently produced today is Good Morning, Bill.
Page 28
VALLEY FIELDS
1925 - 1974
Wodehouse's devotion to Dulwich was confirmed by his use of that setting,
usually under the name Valley Fields, for a number of his non-series novels.
One of his characters, Mr Cornelius, gave it this eulogy:
"I was born in Valley Fields, I went to school in Valley Fields, I have
lived all my life in Valley Fields, and I shall end my days here.  I make a
modest competence and I am content with it.  I have my house, my garden, my
wife, my flowers, my rabbits.  I ask nothing more."
Page 29
MULLINER STORIES
1926 - 1937
Another of Wodehouse's favourite narrators was Mr Mulliner, who regaled his
audience in some 40 tales from a comfortable seat at the Anglers' Rest.
All of these stories were about a relative of his, sometimes close,
sometimes distant, who had undergone an extraordinary experience which
illustrated a point arising from the general conversation in the pub.
One interesting point is that some half a dozen of the stories were not
written to be narrated by Mr Mulliner, but were judiciously adapted to
permit their inclusion in one of the Mulliner collections!
E Phillips Oppenheim suggested that PGW had invented the technique of
referring to members of the audience by reference to their drink whilst at
the Sporting Club at Monte Carlo:
"Tell me, Opp, who is that long, sandy, Gin and Tonic on the corner stool?"
Page 30
NORFOLK STREET, LONDON
1927
In 1927 the Wodehouses took a lease on 17 Norfolk Street at a rent of ?450
per month.  It was used as their London base for part of the early thirties,
and they took on the services of a butler whilst living there.
Ethel loved to give parties in the downstairs rooms, but Plum would tend to
creep up to the attic, where he had his den with desk and typewriter and get
on with his work.
An English Heritage commemorative plaque  (unveiled by Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1988) can now be found on the building, whose
address has been revised to 17 Dunraven Street.
Page 31
SHOWBOAT
1927
The most famous lyric which Plum wrote is Bill, performed by Julie in the
rehearsal scene in Act II of Showboat.
The song had originally been written for the Broadway show Oh, Lady! Lady!
but had been dropped on the basis that it slowed down the tempo at an
inappropriate point.
It has been recorded probably hundreds of times, often by the great
vocalists.  How often do listeners realise that they are listening to P G
Wodehouse?
Page 32
FIRST TRIP TO HOLLYWOOD
1930
In 1930 Wodehouse took his first contract with MGM in Hollywood.
His first project was to rewrite the dialogue for Those Three French Girls.
Plum was then asked to novelise a musical, Rosalie, with which he had been
involved on Broadway, preparatory to writing a film script.  After he had
finished he was told that film musicals were old hat and the project was
dropped for some years.
He did not enjoy film work and was to express his views unguardedly to a Los
Angeles Times reporter about the amount of money he was receiving ($2,000
per week) for achieving very little.  This caused considerable turmoil in
the entire film industry and his contract was not renewed.
Page 33
THE DRONES CLUB
1931 - 1937
The dates given refer to a period during which a number of short stories
featuring members of the Drones Club were written.  Again he used a
technique of personalising anonymous acolytes by referring to them as 'Eggs'
, 'Beans', 'Crumpets' or, in one case, a 'Pieface'.
But the Drones was of much greater importance in Wodehouse's world, and he
named over 50 of its members.  It is based on a combination of the real
Bucks Club and Bachelors' Club.
Most of the members, though members of the Upper Class, were not well off, o
nly a handful such as Oofy Prosser and Bertie Wooster having significant
fortunes of more than a transient nature.
Page 34
LEONORA WODEHOUSE MARRIED
1932
The big development of 1932 was the marriage on December 12 of Ethel and
Plum's daughter Leonora to Peter Cazalet, the racing trainer to Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Plum got on very well with his son-in-law, and was delighted when presented
with two grandchildren in due course:  Sheran (now Lady Hornby) in 1934 and
Edward (now Sir Edward Cazalet) in 1936.
Page 35
ANYTHING GOES
1934
The most famous musical in which Plum played a major creative role is
Anything Goes, with music and most of the lyrics by Cole Porter, original
book by Guy Bolton and P G Wodehouse.
Unfortunately the chosen theme, of a shipwreck, proved to be inappropriate
shortly before its opening as the USS Morro Castle was wrecked with much
loss of life.  As the Guy and Plum were not available to perform the
necessary rewrite, Lindsay and Crouse stepped in, and have claimed the lion'
s share of the credit ever since.
Wodehouse contributed much to the original London production, including
anglicised lyrics to the two hit songs You're the Top and Anything Goes,
many of which remain in what has become the standard version of each song.
Page 36
SECOND TRIP TO HOLLYWOOD
1936
In 1936 Wodehouse surprisingly accepted a second contract with MGM, and was
immediately again pressed into work on Rosalie!  This time it did appear on
the screen, but without a significant contribution from Plum.
He then assisted other studios on single film projects, especially the
dramatisation of his own A Damsel in Distress starring Fred Astaire, with
music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin.
Page 37
DOCTOR WODEHOUSE
1939
On June 21 1939, Oxford University granted P G Wodehouse an honorary
Doctorate, a D Litt.  The Public Orator, Dr Cyril Bailey, gave an address at
the Encaenia in the Sheldonian Theatre in Latin, in which he successfully
captured much of the spirit of Wodehouse's world, managing amongst other
references to speak of Augustus Fink-Nottle and the love life of his newts.
It was the last time Plum was to visit England.
Page 38
WARTIME - CAPTURED IN LE TOUQUET
1940
In 1940 the Wodehouses were living in Le Touquet, reluctant to return to the
UK before it was necessary because it would mean quarantine for their
beloved animals.  They also played their part in entertaining the local
British forces, and thought they were showing courage by remaining as long
as it was sensible to do so.
But the German advance caught the local forces by surprise, and the warning
to the civilians to leave came too late.  The Wodehouses and their
neighbours left in convoy, one of the cars broke down, and by next day, it
was too late.
Since it was German policy to intern all males under the age of 60, and as
Plum was not then quite 59, he was led away to captivity.
Page 39
WARTIME - PLUM INTERNED
1940 - 1941
Wodehouse was taken via Loos Prison, Liege and Huy to Tost, in Upper
Silesia, where he was detained with a couple of thousand other civilians.
A petition for his release from fans in neutral America gave the German
Foreign Office an idea.  In support of their policy of keeping the USA out
of the war as long as possible, they released Plum a few weeks early, and
then arranged for Werner Plack, an old Hollywood friend, to suggest that he
made some broadcasts to America to reassure his friends of his safety.
The Propaganda Ministry, headed by Goebbels, hijacked copies of the
recordings and transmitted them to England.  Although virtually nobody heard
them, they succeeded in causing a political storm out of all proportion to
their importance.
Page 40
WARTIME - REUNITED WITH ETHEL
1941-1945
After his release, Wodehouse was reunited with Ethel and spent a couple of
years in Germany, with friends in the summer, but having to return to Berlin
on account of the cold during the winter.
In 1943 they were allowed to move to Paris.
During 1944 their daughter Leonora went into hospital in London and
unexpectedly died while on the operating table.
Page 41
RETURN TO THE U S A
1947
The Wodehouses left France for America in April 1947 and after a certain
time in hotels settled in an apartment on Park Avenue.
In 1952 they bought a property in Remsenburg and until 1955 they spent the
summers there and the winters in New York.  From 1955 onwards they lived at
Remsenburg all year round, with Guy Bolton for a neighbour.
Page 42
AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
1953 - 1962
Wodehouse never wrote an authentic autobiography.
"The three essentials for an autobiography are that its compiler shall have
had an eccentric father, a miserable misunderstood childhood and a hell of a
time at his public school, and I enjoyed none of these advantages."
He included fictionalised versions of many aspects of his life in his novels
and short stories, and produced three semi-autobiographical books, all of
which were written to entertain rather than to be authoritative accounts of
his life.
Page 43
U S CITIZENSHIP
1955
Plum became an American citizen in 1955.
Page 44
BIOGRAPHIES
1961 - 1995
Partly because of the lack of an authentic autobiography, Wodehouse has been
the subject of a remarkable number of biographies, looking at the whole or a
particular aspect of his life, and usually offering some critical comments
on his work.
A word of warning, however.  For quite a while the life of Wodehouse as
described in the semi-autobiographical books was assumed to be reasonably
accurate, and was accepted by some biographers who had no means of
discovering that they contained the literary equivalent of the 'added
ingredients' so well known in the grocery trade.  A number of 'facts' which
never happened have thereby passed into Wodehouse folklore.
Page 45
TELEVISED WODEHOUSE
1965 - 1967
There had been occasional television productions of Wodehouse short stories
but in 1965 the first major series was made, The World of Wooster, starring
Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price.
In 1967 a new series, Blandings Castle, was televised, starring Sir Ralph
Richardson, Meriel Forbes and Stanley Holloway.
Further major series were not made for some years, but many people regard
Wodehouse Playhouse, beginning in 1975 and starring John Alderton and
Pauline Collins, as the peak of television representation of Wodehouse.  The
twenty episodes consisted of twelve Mulliner stories, three Golf and five
Drones Club tales.
Finally, in the early 1990s, four series of Jeeves and Wooster were
broadcast, with Hugh Laurie playing Bertie and Stephen Fry Jeeves.
Page 46
THE BIDE-A-WEE REST HOME
1967
The Wodehouses were always immensely fond of their pets, generally dogs and
cats, but any animal was sure of a friendly welcome.
They owned a succession of Pekinese dogs (including Bimmy, Boo, Loopy, Mrs
Miffen, Squeaky, Miss Winks and Wonder), an Aberdeen terrier called Angus
(who was less popular but immortalised in Stiffy Byng's Bartholomew), a
foxhound, a boxer, a dachshund, a bulldog and mongrels.
In 1966 he and Ethel gave $20,000 to the Bide-A-Wee Association to build the
P G Wodehouse Shelter for stray animals at Westhampton, near Remsenburg.
Page 47
RADIO SERIES
1973 ONWARDS
BBC Radio undertook an ambitious project starting in about 1973, recording
dramatisations of many of the Jeeves and Wooster stories under the generic
title What Ho, Jeeves.
This continued until 1980, since when further recordings have been made,
including Bring on the Girls, The Luck of the Bodkins, Blandings (short
stories), Quick Service, Heavy Weather, Pigs Have Wings, Galahad at
Blandings, Uncle Dynamite, Ukridge and three series of Oldest Member
stories.
The BBC has published twin audio-cassette recordings of many of these books
under their Radio Collection title.
Page 48
UNABRIDGED AUDIO RECORDINGS
Chivers Audio have so far published more than 20 unabridged Wodehouse novels
or short story collections on audio-tape.
The readings are by actors of the calibre of Jonathan Cecil, Ian Carmichael,
Nigel Lambert, the late John Wells and the late Jeremy Sinden.
Two new recordings are issued each year.  The 1999 titles were Psmith,
Journalist (Jonathan Cecil) and A Pelican at Blandings (Nigel Lambert).
Page 49
SIR PELHAM WODEHOUSE
1975
In the New Year's Honours List for 1975, Plum received a knighthood, along
with another veteran who made people laugh, Charlie Chaplin.
Page 50
DIED IN HOSPITAL
1975
On Valentine's Day, 1975, Plum Wodehouse was in hospital, working on his
next book, a Blandings novel.  He got out of bed, collapsed and did not
recover.
The world had lost the greatest humorous writer of the century.
The book he was working on was only half-finished, and of course had not
been through the famous Wodehouse polishing-up procedure.  Richard Usborne
accepted the onerous responsibility of producing a viable manuscript, not
seeking to imitate Wodehouse or complete the book, but commentating on the
notes which had been prepared concerning the book's second half in his usual
scholarly way.
Thus Plum's last words came together in
Sunset at Blandings
Copyright Michel Kuzmenko (gmk), The Russian Wodehouse Society © 1996-2011. Established 04/04/1996.