Pelham Grenville "Plum" Wodehouse, 1881 - 1975
Born: 15 October 1881, Guildford, Surrey, England, UK
Died: 14 February 1975, Southampton, New York
"Plum" was born in England while his mother was on a visit, his father served as a judge at Hong Kong at the time and the boy lived there for only three years before returning to England and a series of boarding schools. Apparently, he replaced family life with writing. For prep school he spent two years at Malvern House, not enjoying it, and transferred to Dulwich College where he edited the school magazine, sang and acted in theatrical productions, boxed, and played both cricket and rugby. He was expected to go to Oxford but a sudden drop in the value of the Indian rupee, in which his fathers pension was paid, forced him to take a job at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (now HSBC). In 1902 he took a gob at The Globe and began contributing articles to Punch, the British Vanity Fair, and various schoolboy's magazines. He moved to New York's Greenwich Village in 1909 and sold stories to Cosmopolitan, Collier's, and began to write regularly for the recently-established American Vanity Fair. He collaborated with Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and others on scripts and lyrics for musical comedies, eventually including lyrics to 250 songs in 30 shows to go with the 15 plays and 96 books he wrote over a 73-year career. He is probably best known for his stories of Bertie Wooster and his valet Reginald Jeeves, including 11 novels and 35 short stories between 1915 and 1974. In 1934 he moved to Le Touquet, France to avoid the double taxation of a Brit writing in the states, In 1940 the Germans occupied France and Wodehouse was interned for a year, after which he caused a scandal in England, including treason charges, for broadcasting a humorous radio show for American consumption from Berlin. As a result of this Wodehouse never again set foot in England, becoming a US citizen in 1955. With the bad feelings from that long behind him, health prevented him from retuning when he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1975, six weeks before his death.
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P. G. Wodehouse quotes:
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- A certain critic—for such men, I regret to say, do exist—made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained 'all the old Wodehouse characters under different names'. He has probably now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled this man by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy. permalink
- A man's subconscious self is not the ideal companion. It lurks for the greater part of his life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges only to taunt and deride and increase the misery of a miserable hour. permalink
- A moment before, Lady Wetherby had been feeling completely contented, without a care on her horizon. It was foolish of her to have expected such a state of things to last, for what is life but a series of sharp corners, round each of which Fate lies in wait for us with a stuffed eel-skin? Something in the butler's manner, a sort of gloating gloom which he radiated, told her that she had arrived at one of these corners now. permalink
Uneasy Money, Chap. 13 (1916)
- A slight throbbing about the temples told me that this discussion had reached saturation point. permalink
- A tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say 'when'. permalink
- Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin. permalink
- Always get to the dialogue as soon as possible. I always feel the thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a great slab of prose at the start. permalink
- And she's got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need. permalink
- At five minutes to eleven on the morning named he was at the station, a false beard and spectacles shielding his identity from the public eye. If you had asked him he would have said that he was a Scotch business man. As a matter a fact, he looked far more like a motor-car coming through a haystack. permalink
- At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies. permalink
- Boyhood, like measles, is one of those complaints which a man should catch young and have done with, for when it comes in middle life it is apt to be serious. permalink
- Breakfast had been prepared by the kitchen maid, an indifferent performer who had used the scorched earth policy on the bacon again. permalink
- Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes novels. permalink
- Has anybody ever seen a drama critic in the daytime? Of course not. They come out after dark, up to no good. permalink
- He trusted neither of them as far as he could spit, and he was a poor spitter, lacking both distance and control. permalink
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