12 July, 2008

P.G. Wodehouse

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was an English comic novelist, who enjoyed enormous popular success during a career of more than seventy years and continues to be widely read. Despite the political and social upheavals that occurred during his life, much of which was spent in France and the United States, Wodehouse's main canvas remained that of prewar English upper-class society, reflecting his birth, education, and youthful writing career.

An acknowledged master of English prose, Wodehouse has been admired both by contemporaries such as Hilaire Belloc, Evelyn Waugh and Rudyard Kipling and by modern writers such as Douglas Adams, Salman Rushdie and Terry Pratchett. Sean O'Casey famously called him "English literature's performing flea", a description that Wodehouse used as the title of a collection of his letters to a friend, Bill Townend.

Best known today for the Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories, Wodehouse was also a talented playwright and lyricist who was part author and writer of fifteen plays and of 250 lyrics for some thirty musical comedies. He worked with Cole Porter on the musical Anything Goes (1934) and frequently collaborated with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton. He wrote the lyrics for the hit song "Bill" in Kern's Show Boat (1927), wrote the lyrics for the Gershwin - Romberg musical Rosalie (1928), and collaborated with Rudolf Friml on a musical version of The Three Musketeers (1928).

Wodehouse died on January 14, 1975 at the age of 93.


Ingwall said...

PG Wodehouse wrote one of the best ever apologia for smoking in Punch magazine, later in a slightly-edited version in his book Over Seventy. It was at the time when people first started to notice the connection between smoking and various illnesses (not cancer, interestingly). Complaining about scientists who "put a drop of tobacco on a cat's tongue" with fatal results. "Are we to abolish Twickenham and Murrayfield just because some scientist proves that if a cat was jumped on by rugby forwards it would be squashed flatter than a Dover sole?" he asks. Cats are not the sme as humans. Well worth searching out.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm in the market to buy a pipe for my fiance. H'e a huge Wodehouse fan, and I'm wondering if you know what kind of pipe he used most often.

As a funny aside, I saw you are from Memphis. I am as well, though I haven't been back for a long while. Cheers!