‘P. G. Wodehouse was born on 15 October 1881, at 1 Vale Place, Epsom Road Guildford’ begins Frances Donaldson in her 1982 Authorized Biography, summing the matter up rather neatly.
The house in Surrey was not the Wodehouse home.The family lived in Hong Kong, where P.G.’s father Henry Wodehouse was a magistrate in the Colonial Civil Service. His mother Eleanor was visiting England, staying with a sister in the neighbouring village of Bramley. Eleanor was visiting friends in Epsom Road when the infant Plum popped out unexpectedly. The house is remembered today with a blue plaque over the door.
I’m grateful to have received detailed information about Wodehouse locations in England from Wodehouse expert N.T.P Murphy, whose essential work on the subject includes Three Wodehouse Walks and In Search of Blandings. If you fancy marking the occasion of Wodehouse’s birth with a little gift to yourself, I can recommend both books, as well as Murphy’s other Wodehouse related writing.
At my house, Wodehouse’s birthday provides the perfect excuse for me to stake a rare claim over the television and spend an evening revisiting one of the better adaptations. Tonight, I’m planning to watch the 1995 BBC adaptation of Heavy Weather, which is distressingly unavailable on DVD, but some worthy humanitarian has made it available via Youtube.If you’ve not seen it already, you have a real treat ahead of you.