Category Archives: Plumtopia

A world inspired by Wodehouse

Plum Puzzles

‘Across the pale parabola of Joy . . .’

Psmith knitted his brow. It was just the sort of line which was likely to have puzzled his patroness, Lady Constance, and he anticipated that she would come to him directly he arrived and ask for an explanation. It would obviously be a poor start for his visit to confess that he had no theory as to its meaning himself. He tried it again.

Leave it to Psmith

The widely reported outbreak of COVID-19-induced leisure time is making me dashed resentful. While others are working on first novels, starting podcasts, and creating art, I’m barely managing the demands of working and schooling from home — and cleaning up all the additional mess we’re creating. Spare time for pondering on the topic of Plum is in regrettably short supply.

But I am grateful to have avoided the dreadful virus so far and hope that you, too, are in the pink.

The new The P.G. Wodehouse Book Club is trickling along. This week we’re discussing Leave it to Psmith. In the absence of writing time, I’ve created an interactive cryptogram:

Leave it to Psmith Cryptogram

If you enjoy it, try these other Wodehouse puzzles:

Happy puzzling!

HP

The P.G. Wodehouse Book Club: An Invitation

If he elected to hide his pain under a bright smile and a laugh like that of a hyena with a more than usually keen sense of humour, our line was obviously to follow his lead.

The Man With Two Left Feet & Other Stories

In these trying times, good people are reaching out to support others in whatever way they can, each according to our particular skills. But starting an online P.G. Wodehouse Book Club feels like a poor and inherently selfish response. Is it reasonable to be reading and talking about Wodehouse in the midst of a global pandemic — while others are ‘out there’ doing essential work and saving lives?

I think the answer is yes.

To begin with, the two activities are not mutually exclusive. The new group has at least one member who is reading Wodehouse as an escape from his essential hospital work. And those of us confined to home are playing our part in reducing the spread of the virus in our communities. The psychological benefits of reading, laughing, and connecting with others are all well-established — and important to maintain at such a time.

As a rule, you see, I’m not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across premieval swamps and Uncle James’s letter about Cousin Mabel’s peculiar behaviour is being shot round the family circle (‘Please read this carefully and send it on Jane’) the clan has a tendency to ignore me.

The Inimitable Jeeves

There are some terrific, well-established online Wodehouse groups if you’re looking to connect with other fans (list follows below). The new P.G. Wodehouse Book Club is for anyone — new readers and enthusiasts alike — who would like to read and discuss the books with others, in a vaguely organised sort of way.

The club was established at approximately 6pm on Wednesday (Australian Central Standard Time) with 41 of its 245 founding members voting for The Inimitable Jeeves as our first book. The gang will be convening online next Saturday — all day, anytime — to talk about it.

An early talking point has been the cover art for this Australian paperback edition.

You can take part by joining the P.G. Wodehouse Book Club on Facebook, or follow the conversation on Twitter #PGWClub.

Happy reading and stay safe, friends.

HP

Other online Wodehouse groups

Let me know if I’ve missed a group and I’ll add it to the list

Joy in the Morning: Jonathan Cecil audiobook review

A review of the Joy in the Morning audiobook read by Jonathan Cecil (one of my favourites) from Fiction Fan:

“Forget the pasta and toilet roll – stockpile these in preparation for your social distancing. What better company could you possibly have?”

FICTION FAN BLOG

FictionFan's Book Reviews

Knotted locks and knitted socks…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Bertie isn’t keen on visiting Steeple Bumpleigh, home to Aunt Agatha, the most terrifying of his aunts. But Jeeves is keen to do a spot of fishing and Uncle Percy needs Jeeves’ help in finding a way to pull off a big business deal, so Bertie gives in gracefully. After all, Aunt Agatha is off elsewhere on a visit, ex-fiancée Florence Craye can be no threat to his bachelorhood now that she’s engaged to D’Arcy “Stilton” Cheesewright, and while his young cousin Edwin is always a pestilence, how much harm could one Boy Scout possibly do? But when Florence and Stilton fall out over Stilton’s insistence on being the village policeman and Edwin burns down Bertie’s cottage whilst doing his daily act of kindness, things take a sinister turn. Meantime Uncle Percy is refusing to allow his ward Nobby Hopwood…

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Wodehouse News: movie reviews, Slapstick festival & a Japanese stage adaptation

A Sunday triple-bill for Wodehouse fans.

Jeeves and The Hollywood Way

For Golden Age of Hollywood fans, the Grand Old Movies blog is well worth following, and this week they’ve added the pleasures of Wodehouse into the mix. ‘Jeeves and The Hollywood Way’ looks at the two Jeeves movies starring Arthur Treacher, Thank You, Jeeves! (1936) and Step Lively, Jeeves ! (1937). The writer is sound on Wodehouse, so there’s no need to add my 2 cents worth on the subject. Highly recommended.

Wodehouse discussion at the Slapstick Festival

Next, it’s Book Shambles Podcast: a live recording from the Bristol Old Vic panel discussion (Robin Ince, Prof Sophie Ratcliffe and Joanna Neary) at the recent Slapstick Festival. The Wodehouse discussion starts about 13 minutes in.

The discussion has had mixed reviews from Wodehouse enthusiasts, but I was pleased to hear the panelists highlight the ‘oomph’ of his female characters, and challenge the popular misconception that Wodehouse appeals mainly to men.

Takarazuka Revue production of Oh, Kay!

And finally, some exciting news from Tamaki Morimura, who is well known to Wodehouse fans for her work translating Wodehouse into Japanese (as well as being a thoroughly good egg).

The all female Takarazuka Revue company will be performing Nice Work If You Can Get It, an adaptation of the 1926 musical Oh, Kay! by George and Ira Gershwin (music and lyrics), Guy Bolton, and P.G. Wodehouse (book).

It’s a fascinating combination. Perhaps it’s time for my first trip to Japan.

Happy viewing!

HP

P.G. Wodehouse in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey

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Wodehouse memorial stone:  Photo by Elin Woodger Murphy

P.G. Wodehouse fans are celebrating the wonderful news from Westminster Abbey,  where a memorial stone in Poet’s Corner has been dedicated to the beloved author.

You can read more about it here:

Congratulations to everyone involved in making this tribute to Wodehouse possible.  I’d love to hear your news and reports of the day.

In the meantime, it seems fitting to close with a dash of Wodehouse.

Living in the country had given Augustine Mulliner the excellent habit of going early to bed. He had a sermon to compose on the morrow, and in order to be fresh and at his best in the morning he retired shortly before eleven. And, as he had anticipated an unbroken eight hours of refreshing sleep, it was with no little annoyance that he became aware, towards midnight, of a hand on his shoulder, shaking him. Opening his eyes, he found that the light had been switched on and that the Bishop of Stortford was standing at his bedside.

‘Hullo!’ said Augustine. Anything wrong?’

The Bishop smiled genially, and hummed a bar or two of the hymn for those of riper years at sea. He was plainly in excellent spirits.

‘Nothing, my dear fellow,’ he replied. ‘In fact, very much the reverse. How are you, Mulliner?’

‘I feel fine, Bish.’

‘I’ll bet you two chasubles to a hassock you don’t feel as fine as I do,’ said the Bishop. ‘It must be something in the air of this place. I haven’t felt like this since Boat Race Night of the year 1893. Wow!’ he continued. ‘Whoopee! How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! Numbers, 44, 5.’

And, gripping the rail of the bed, he endeavoured to balance himself on his hands with his feet in the air.

‘Gala Night’ in Mulliner Nights

HP

Pigs Have Wings: PG Wodehouse in Cincinnati (2019 Convention)

cincinnati

The US Wodehouse Society’s biennial convention is the big event for Wodehouse fans in the USA. It also attracts a devoted international crowd and is well worth including on your Wodehouse Bucketlist.

With the next convention in Cincinnati, Ohio just a few months away, it’s time to get excited — and start planning. See the Wodehouse Society’s website for registration and further details. EARLY REGISTRATION ends August 10th. 

I can thoroughly recommend the experience to newcomers. Attending my first convention (Psmith in Pseattle) remains one of the highlights of my life as a Wodehouse fan, and I plan to attend many more conventions in the years ahead. It’s a great chance to meet other fans and Wodehouse experts from around the world, and take home some unique Wodehouse merch.

For convention updates and conversation with other convention-goers, the Pigs Have Wings- PGW in Cincinnati: The Wodehouse Society’s 2019 Convention Facebook group is the place to be — they’ll be able to answer all your convention related questions (and most of your Wodehouse questions as well).

Meeting other Wodehouse lovers in person is always a pleasure (you’ll soon become friends) and Cincinnati looks like a fabulous city.

 

Happy travels!

HP

 

Wodehouse and Plumtopia

Taking a short break from shameless self promotion here at Plumtopia because, I am gratified to report, an outstanding chap by the name of Phil Chapman has said all manner of nice things about Plumtopia at his Ukebloke blog.

The credit is all Wodehouse’s of course, but I still get a warm inner glow knowing people enjoy the curated highlights here at Plumtopia.

HP

Ukebloke's Ukeblog

Once again, I’ve taken my eye off the Ukeblog ball for five minutes and more than two years have elapsed.

After this most recent Ukeblog hiatus, I felt moved to post something, having just stumbled upon a rather splendid blog, dedicated to all things P. G. Wodehouse. I discovered Honoria Plum‘s A Centenary of My Man Jeeves post via Twitter and soon found myself diverted from whatever it was I was supposed to be doing, as I enjoyed a pleasant stroll around Plumtopia.

I now realise:

a) I’ve neglected P.G. Wodehouse for far too long; I must revisit old favourites and discover new gems I never got round to reading.

b) The person expecting an email from me by 5pm is now disappointed and will become even more disappointed, as I’ve barely started putting it together.

c) My tea’s gone cold.

All signs of a very welcome distraction.

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P.G. Wodehouse in the news

Having apprised regular readers of certain facts about an upcoming Wodehouse exhibition at the British Library, the keen observer may have detected an absence of new material here at Plumtopia. But the world of Wodehouse has not suffered. Indeed, it has been buzzing along quite nicely.

The P G Wodehouse Society dinner

On 11 October, the P G Wodehouse Society (UK) held its biennial dinner. This is always a special occasion, and in 2018 included readings from Neil Pearson, Katy Reece, and Robert Daws. Daws is well known to Wodehouse fans for playing Tuppy Glossop in the Jeeves and Wooster television series. He also gave a performed reading of ‘Wodehouse in Wonderland’ — a play by William Humble — at the recent Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature Film & Music.

The biggest news item of the year was also announced at the dinner.

P.G. Wodehouse memorial for Westminster Abbey

The momentous news — that a memorial stone for Wodehouse is planned for Westminster Abbey — has been widely reported (see Patrick Kidd in The Times, Alison Flood in The Guardian).

This announcement signifies:

“… a recognition of Plum’s place in the literary pantheon. His stone will deservedly lie among those of some of the greatest writers in this country’s history and his own literary heroes.”
(P G Wodehouse Society Chairman, Hilary Bruce
)

Empress Michiko sparks enthusiasm for Wodehouse in Japan

The Empress of Japan recently announced that she will spend her upcoming retirement reading as much as possible – and P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster books are at the top of her reading pile. This has sparked a rise in demand for Wodehouse’s work in Japan – with sales increasing from around 100 books per anum to 100 per day, according to publishers.  Hopefully this will lead to renewed demand for Wodehouse translator Tamaki Morimura to translate more of Wodehouse’s work.

Jeeves and the King of Clubs  

schottWhat makes this new Wodehouse homage by Ben Schott different from all the other Wodehouse homages that have been written over the years? Well, like Sebastian Faulks’ ‘Jeeves and the Wedding Bells’, this one has been blessed with the approval of the Wodehouse estate. Released in November, it has received kind reviews from Patrick Kidd (The Times) and Sophie Ratcliffe (known to Wodehouse fans as the editor of P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters).

A Plum Assignment plumassignment

Another new release of particular interest this year is ‘A Plum Assignment: Discourses on P. G. Wodehouse and His World’ by Curtis Armstrong (film and television actor) and Wodehouse expert Elliott Milstein.

What Ho! At the British Library

The British Library’s Wodehouse exhibition opened in November and will continue through to February 2019. They’ve also hosted several Wodehouse related events, with the next one planned for 21 February 2019 — an evening of Wodehouse stories and song, including Wodehouse biographer Robert McCrum. Tickets for the previous event sold out, so don’t wait too long for this one (tickets here).

Perfect Nonsense in North America

Wodehouse fans in the USA will finally be able to enjoy the delights of Perfect Nonsense, the Goodale brothers’ delightful stage adaptation of The Code of the Woosters. Its first US performance will run March 21 to April 14 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut (tickets here).

Keeping up to date with all the latest Wodehouse news  

Personal demands (wheels within wheels) over the last few months have made it difficult to write at length, but you can find me on Twitter @HonoriaPlum for a daily dose of Wodehouse, including any Wodehouse news that comes to hand.

I have grand plans for Plumtopia in 2019, and trust this brief absence has not caused any significant loss to the world of blogging, Wodehouse, or indeed literature.

To give Wodehouse the last word:

There was once a millionaire who, having devoted a long life to an unceasing struggle to amass his millions, looked up from his death-bed and said plaintively, ‘And now, perhaps, someone will kindly tell me what’s it’s all been about.’ I get that feeling sometimes, looking back. Couldn’t I, I ask myself, have skipped one or two of those works of mine and gone off and played golf without doing English literature any irreparable harm? Take, for instance, that book The Swoop, which was one of the paper-covered shilling books so prevalent around 1909. I wrote the whole 25,000 words of it in five days, and the people who read it, if placed end to end, would have reached from Hyde Park Corner to about the top of Arlington Street. Was it worth the trouble?

Yes, I think so, for I had a great deal of fun writing it. I have had a great deal of fun — one-sided possibly — writing all my books.

P.G. Wodehouse (Over Seventy)

I love writing Plumtopia — thanks for reading again this year.

HP

P.G. Wodehouse – the Man and his Work

Great War Fiction

The P.G. Wodehouse exhibition at the British Library that I mentioned a few weeks ago is now happily in place, and Marion and I visited while in London earlier this week.

It is a fairly small affair, in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Libraryroom. The last exhibit I saw in that space was devoted to Karl Marx. The Wodehouse one is cheerier. It is a sample of the manuscripts and other items recently sent to the Library by the Cazalet family (on permanent loan, I think).

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P.G. Wodehouse exhibition at The British Library

In 2016, I had the great privilege of visiting the home of P.G. Wodehouse’s grandson to see his extensive family collection of Wodehouse treasures, including drafts, completed manuscripts, letters, and Wodehouse’s own reading library.

As you might imagine, I was giddy with excitement throughout the visit. Highlights included Wodehouse’s edition of Shakespeare’s complete works (which he took with him when captured by the Nazis in France in 1940), letters from Agatha Christie and Richard Burton (among others), Wodehouse’s own reading library and comfy chair, and a 1961 Christmas gift from Evelyn Waugh inscribed to: ‘The head of my profession’ . Other treasures included Wodehouse’s own statue of the Infant Samuel at Prayer and a Cow Creamer, both significant artifacts for anyone familiar with his work.

In the space of a short visit, it was not possible to read many documents or examine every treasure, but much of this priceless collection has been on loan to the British Library since late 2016. They’ve had time to go over their haul, and are now ready to present it to the public in a new exhibition: P G Wodehouse: The Man and His Work.

This is a ‘must-see’ event for any Wodehouse fan who can get themselves to London, from 27 November 2018. The exhibition itself is free. The material on display will be entirely new for most fans — as we have no Wodehouse museum. If you’re in town on December 6th, Wodehouse expert Tony Ring will also be giving a talk on The Wit and Wisdom of P G Wodehouse.

I’m likely to miss this, due to being in the bally wrong hemisphere, but I look forward to the reports from other visitors.

Enjoy!

HP