15 Oct

Happy BD to PG!

October 15th is the birthday of a great British humorist.  P. G. Wodehouse (that's wood-house, not woad-house)!  Wodehouse, who went by Plum (short for his first name, Pelham) among family and friends, led an extremely fascinating life, as most of the British writers of the former half of the 20th century did.  For one thing, he was imprisoned by the Nazis near the beginning of the Second World War because he was living in Paris at the time.  Radio broadcasts he made from the Continent after being released raised suspicions of treason on his part, though a later investigation by British MI5 cleared him of that suspicion.


Look at that cigar. This man oozes humor.

He also lived much of his life in the USA, becoming a citizen in 1955 (at the age of 74).  He was retained by MGM on several occasions, writing a little for Hollywood, and he spent much time in New York.

Awesome life story aside, though, the important thing about Wodehouse is his writing.  Holy mackerel!  We have tons of P.G. Wodehouse books!  And for good reason.  He wrote over 100 books, and they're all great.  However it can be tough to figure out where to start, and the truth is you can start anywhere you want!  There isn't really a plot line to catch up on, and when he references past stories he always explains enough to know what's going on.  There are two main storylines:  Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings Castle.


Jeeves and Wooster is about the wealthy and scatterbrained Bertie Wooster, the unfortunate situations he and his friends get into, and how his ingenious valet, Jeeves, fixes them.  If you want to read them chronologically, the first three books are My Man Jeeves (1919), The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), and Carry On, Jeeves (1925).  Carry On, Jeeves contains the story Jeeves Takes Charge, which explains how Jeeves came to work for Bertie originally and is my main recommendation for your first try.  Other great J&W collections are Right Ho, Jeeves, and The Mating Season


Jeeves and Wooster were portrayed in a television adaptation by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie respectively and that show is gold.

Blandings Castle concerns Lord Emsworth and the other residents of Blandings Castle, who also get themselves into unfortunate and hilarious situations.  The first Blandings book is Something Fresh (1915), but we recommend starting with Heavy Weather or Lord Emsworth and Others.


One of Wodehouse's most beloved characters is Psmith (the 'p' is silent as in "pshrimp"), who appears in several Blandings stories and also has several of his own books, such as Psmith in the City, but I would start with Leave it to Psmith.

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