PG Wodehouse
The Man Upstairs


"I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down express in the small of the back" (The Inimitable Jeeves)

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, always known as either P.G. Wodehouse or simply Plum (in his Punch writing and letters), was born on October 15th 1881 in Guildford, Surrey. He is best known for his Jeeves and Wooster stories, although he wrote novels and stories about a great many other hilarious characters.

His father was a civil servant who left to become a judge in Hong Kong while Plum was still a boy. As such, the young Wodehouse spent much of his childhood in the care of aunts (see his constant preoccupation with relatives, especially aunts, in his fiction). He went to school at Dulwich college and seems to have enjoyed his time there. His famous Psmith character represents his boarding school years.

Wodehouse's first career was as a banker for he Hong Kong and Shanghai bank but he turned his back on this swiftly and took up freelance writing just two years later. He began by writing for boys' magazines and moved on to the Strand Magazine - where a great many of his books were published serially first - and Punch. His first novel was published in 1902 and his output was extremely prolific, including the dialogue and stories to many successful musical comedies. He married in 1914 but, despite already having become one of the leading humorists of his age, he had not reached his peak. That came with the characters of Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves in the volume The Man With Two Left Feet (1917). Numerous follow-ups such as The Inimitable Jeeves (1923) and Carry On, Jeeves (1925) came to satisfy popular demand for the amusing chump Wooster, the sage Jeeves and their numerous absurdly named acquaintances.

Wodehouse was captured by the Germans in 1940 and subsequently managed to obtain a release when the Nazis realised who he was. However, he agreed to make a radio broadcast to America. This caused controversy in England that has unfairly dented his reputation and it is now quite apparent that Wodehouse was certainly not a traitor even if his decision to accept the invitation to speak was unwise. His later years were spent in America where he took citizenship in 1955, and he continued to write until the very end, dying on Valentine's Day 1975.

Wodehouse had a numerous other lesser-known characters in the eternal catastrophe- filled garden party that he envisioned in his fiction. Lord Emsworth, Psmith, Mr. Mulliner, and a great many others populate nearly one hundred known novels from the Wodehouse typewriter (he wrote under a number of pseudonyms before fame struck). His comic genius is indisputable and his books are still widely read today, aided by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie's exceptionally played roles as Jeeves and Wooster respectively in the early 1990s.

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