Tag Archives: PG Wodehouse

PG Wodehouse 1958 interview

p-g-_wodehouse2c_1930
PG Wodehouse (1930)

PG Wodehouse

First broadcast: 26 October 1958

Starting with footage of PG Wodehouse at home in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, this interview shows the author at his genial and self-deprecating best. Wodehouse cheerfully discusses his long writing career, his eschewal of ‘serious’ fiction and the lack of sex in his books.

via BBC One – Monitor, 26/10/1958, PG Wodehouse

What Ho!

During a recent rummage through the BBC website for a dash of Wodehouse related light-relief, I happened across this interview with the author himself. It also includes footage of Wodehouse at home on Long Island. In the interview, Wodehouse answers questions about the Berlin Broadcasts, and the absence of sex in his stories.

These remain topics of interest and speculation among Wodehouse readers today, so it’s well worth listening to Wodehouse’s own thoughts on the subject.

Happy viewing!

HP

The Wodehouse Effect: Why India Loves Jeeves (21 May at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, London)

What Ho!

Another treat for Wodehouse lovers is taking place at the British Library, this time as part of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival. A panel, involving MP and Author Shashi Tharoor, MP and journalist Swapan Dasgupta, business writer Mihir S. Sharma, and Wodehouse expert Tony Ring will be discussing:

The Wodehouse Effect : Why India Loves Jeeves: – JLF at The British Library

It’s an intriguing subject, and one that provokes a good deal of discussion amongst the chaps and chapettes in our little Wodehouse community. (Yes, chapettes! Don’t let the all-male panel or misguided notions about Wodehouse appealing mainly to men mislead you — he has a large and enthusiastic following among Indian women).

Many people have tried to explain the reasons for Wodehouse’s popularity in India, including Shashi Tharoor in a 2012 article How the Woosters Captured Delhi. In particular, he highlights Wodehouse’s wonderful use of English language.

English was undoubtedly Britain’s most valuable and abiding legacy to India, and educated Indians, a famously polyglot people, rapidly learned and delighted in it – both for itself, and as a means to various ends. These ends were both political (for Indians turned the language of the imperialists into the language of nationalism) and pleasureable (for the language granted access to a wider world of ideas and entertainments). It was only natural that Indians would enjoy a writer who used language as Wodehouse did – playing with its rich storehouse of classical precedents, mockingly subverting the very canons colonialism had taught Indians they were supposed to venerate.

There’s something in this theory, which might also help to explain why Wodehouse is popular in countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Norway, whose inhabitants are often gifted bi-linguists (if that’s the word I want, Jeeves).

As an outsider looking in, I feel ill-qualified to comment, but I’m looking forward to hearing the panel’s theories on the subject. Yours too! Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Follow the link below for more details about the event, and to register.

The Wodehouse Effect : Why India Loves Jeeves: – JLF at The British Library

Post script 13 June 2017:

This event was recorded and has now been shared via You Tube.

Wodehouse By the Way

P.G. Wodehouse is best known for his contribution to literature, as a novelist and short story writer, but for much of his long career, Wodehouse spread his writing efforts widely, in fields as diverse as journalism, musical theatre, and Hollywood screen writing.

One of Wodehouse’s early associations (circa 1901 -1910) was as a contributor, and later editor, of The Globe‘s By The Way column. Apart from a By The Way Book (1908), his work on that column has never before been collected – until earlier this year, when group of Wodehouse experts formed the P. G. Wodehouse Globe Reclamation Project. This massive undertaking is an exciting new development of great interest to Wodehouse readers who wish to delve deeper into the seemingly endless output of this prolific writer.

Such an undertaking may have been difficult during Wodehouse’s lifetime (1881-1975). As Frances Donaldson observed (in P.G.Wodehouse: The Authorized Biography), Wodehouse was critical of his own early work and had little interest in seeing it revived. In a 1955 letter to Richard Usborne (included in Sophie Ratcliffe’s P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters), Wodehouse discussed the book in which he used to record the payments he received for his early writing:

‘…I find it slightly depressing as it shows the depths I used to descend to in order to get an occasional ten-and-six. Gosh, what a lot of slush I wrote!’

And later…

‘But I hope you aren’t planning to republish any of the stuff I wrote then. What a curse one’s early work is.’

Frances Donaldson gives this example (which I rather like) from the By The Way Book (which Wodehouse called an ‘awful production’) in her biography.

‘Sea-sickness is a universal scourge. We read in Keats that ‘Stout Cortez stared with eagle eyes at the Pacific.’ In those days they leaned over the side. – Sir Thomas Lipton *

*Lipton, who founded Lipton tea, was also famous as a yachtsman in his day.

While Wodehouse’s work for the Globe may not have been the best writing of his career, Wodehouse fans eagerly await to see what will be unearthed by theP. G. Wodehouse Globe Reclamation Project and any new insights they might provide into the work we are already familiar with.

It is a terrific undertaking, and Wodehouse fans are indebted to the members of this group who have devoted hours of their time to unearthing new nuggets of Wodehousian delight for our enjoyment. You can follow their exploits via the excellent Madame Eulalie website, which has been another much appreciated resource for Wodehouse lovers for some years.

How wonderful it is to be a Wodehouse fan.

HP

The Wodehouse trail: Birth

As an immigrant, rather than a tourist, my Wodehouse pilgrimage has to be managed in small stages, juggled alongside work, parenting and family commitments. Earlier this year I wangled a drive through Guildford, Surrey where P.G. Wodehouse was born. To my delight, I also discovered a few towns of interest in the surrounding area. It was a quick ‘drive by’ photo shoot so photo quality is not the best. Rest assured that I’ll be returning and filing further reports in the fullness of time.

Wodehouse's birthplace, 59 Epsom Rd Guildford
Wodehouse’s birthplace, 59 Epsom Rd Guildford

It was impossible to get closer on this occasion, but according to Open Plaques the sign above the door reads: ‘Author and humourist P.G. Wodehouse was born here on October 15th 1881.’ The great Wodehouse expert N.T.P Murphy explained to me that Wodehouse was born here ‘early and by accident’. His mother Eleanor Wodehouse was staying with a sister in Bramley, a nearby village about 3 miles south of Guildford. She was paying a social to an Army friend in Epsom Road when PG arrived unexpectedly.

St. Nicolas' Church, Guildford. Wodehouse was baptised at the font.
St. Nicolas’ Church, Guildford. Wodehouse was baptised at the font.

 

Exterior of St Nicholas' Church, Guildford
Exterior of St Nicholas‘ Church, Guildford

St Nicholas is hardly the small parish church of ‘Great Sermon Handicap’ fame, but might have been mid-career home to one of the distinguished Mulliner clergy.

Road sign on the Wodehouse Trail
Road sign on the Wodehouse Trail

Admittedly, this photo will do nothing for my reputation as a bulb squeezer, or as a driver.  But I felt justified holding up traffic on the road from Guildford to capture this unexpectedly glorious set of options.

Pirbright, Surrey
Pirbright, Surrey

Indeed I did drive slowly through this village, hoping to spot an illustrious Pigman or two.

Worplesdon, Surrey (POP 1503)
Worplesdon, Surrey (POP 1503)
And in nearby Worplesdon..
And in nearby Worplesdon..

Alas the illustrious pile behind the sign, and any resident Aunts, were not visible from the road. And I did not get to Aldershot, which gets recurring mentions in the Wodehouse school stories.

My short drive in this region was a teaser of what is yet to come in my Plumtopian  pilgrimage The next exciting step will occur next weekend, when I take a walk in London well-known Wodehouse enthusiast and author, Colonel N.T.P. Murphy.

HP