Quotes

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

Wodehouse and the Romantic Novelist (Sophie Weston)

wodehouse romances

As you know, each February Plumtopia muses upon the romances of P.G. Wodehouse to mark the anniversary of his death on St Valentine’s Day 1975. This year, I’m on a quest to discover your favourite couples from the world of Wodehouse romance. Please help me by sharing your favourites via Plumtopia, Facebook and Twitter.

And while we’re on the subject of romance,  I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of recent pieces by romance writer and LibertaBooks blogger, Sophie Weston. Sophie clearly knows her stuff — about the romance genre, as well as Wodehouse

In PGW and the Romantic Novelist, Sophie ponders whether Wodehouse was ‘…out of sympathy with the romantic novelist.’ It’s an interesting question, and Sophie’s response is well worth reading and discussing further. Before reading it, I had always considered Wodehouse as a writer of romances, without considering whether readers and writers of the romance genre would classify him the same way.

Sophie Weston’s fun follow-up piece, Rosie M Banks Interview, lets Rosie M Banks answer the question of whether Wodehouse was ‘specially unkind to romantic novelists’.

As a reader, I’ve always had more affinity for Wodehouse’s fictional mystery writer James Rodman than any of his romance novelists.

He held rigid views on the art of the novel, and always maintained that an artist with a true reverence for his craft should not descend to goo-ey love stories, but should stick austerely to revolvers, cries in the night, missing papers, mysterious Chinamen, and dead bodies — with or without gash in throat.

Honeysuckle Cottage (Meet Mr Mulliner)

When I’m not curled up with Wodehouse’s latest, I generally read classic cloak and dagger adventures or non-fiction. However, Sophie Weston is one of several romance writers I’m aware of who have a strong appreciation for Wodehouse, which makes me curious to re-examine my ideas about the genre and explore it again as a reader. I’m starting to suspect there’s some good stuff I’m missing out on.

Happy reading!

HP

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

Six reasons why P.G. Wodehouse is Stephen Fry’s hero

If I were to construct a Plumtopian society according to my own specifications (which, regrettably, nobody has asked me to do) BBC Radio 4 would be one of the first things I’d bung into the package.

In addition to producing high quality radio, the Radio 4 website is also well worth exploring. It contains, among other things, this little gem:

Six reasons why P.G. Wodehouse is Stephen Fry’s hero

Fry and Wodehouse are always an irresistible combination. For a second helping try the 2017 broadcast (currently available on repeat) of Stephen Fry on PG Wodehouse, as part of the BBC Radio 4 Great Lives series.

That’s enough from me.

Happy listening.

HP

Wodehouse adaptations

My recent post on the Centenary of the P.G. Wodehouse novel Piccadilly Jim, prompted some discussion about Wodehouse adaptations.

Some people think it impossible and ought not be attempted. I disagree. What the world needs is more and better Wodehouse adaptations.

While it’s true that some of the linguistic joys of Wodehouse’s prose cannot be translated to the screen, his complex plots and fabulous characters absolutely can. But they must be handled sympathetically, by scriptwriters, directors, and cast members who appreciate the material they’re working with — and want to produce it faithfully.

For a thorough criticism of the various Wodehouse adaptations, I direct you to a piece entitled Spats, by Shadowplay.

Spats | shadowplay

Happy viewing!

HP

Where Jeeves meets a hard-boiled detective: P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler

chandler and plum covers

One prefers, of course, on all occasions to be stainless and above reproach, but, failing that, the next best thing is unquestionably to have got rid of the body.

P.G. Wodehouse (Joy in the Morning)

Raymond Chandler was born on this day, 23 July 1888.

Chandler wrote ‘hard-boiled’ detective fiction, including classics like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. His fictional detective Philip Marlowe was famously played on screen by Humphrey Bogart.

P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler were both educated at Dulwich College in London’s South, which today has libraries named after both authors.

David Cannadine explored the connection between them this Point of View article (via BBC News): ‘Where Jeeves meets a hard-boiled detective‘.

The anniversary of Chandler’s birth seemed a fitting occasion to share it with you.

Enjoy!

HP

“You are evidently fond of mystery plays.”

“I love them.”

“So do I. And mystery novels?”

“Oh, yes!”

“Have you read Blood on the Banisters?”

“Oh, yes! I thought it was much better than Severed Throats.”

“So did I,” said Cyril. “Much better. Brighter murders, subtler detectives, crisper clues … better in every way.”

The two twin souls gazed into each other’s eyes. There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.

P.G. Wodehouse (Strychnine in the Soup, Mulliner Nights)