PG Wodehouse

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PG Wodehouse (1904)

PG Wodehouse [ ˈwʊdhaʊs ], short for Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse , nickname Plum, KBE , (born October 15, 1881 in Guildford , Surrey , † February 14, 1975 in Southampton , New York ), was a writer, playwright and screenwriter, who is considered a typical British humorist and who invented his "own English fairy tale land" and his own slang . In the English-speaking world, he is one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century.

Wodehouse moved to Le Touquet in France in 1934 for tax reasons and was only interned in the Second World War after the German invasion of France in 1940 and later comfortably quartered at his own expense in the Hotel Adlon in Berlin , where he recorded six apolitical and humorous radio programs in 1941 that were sent to the then United States not yet at war were broadcast. This was received with great anger and hatred in his home country, which at the time was badly affected by the German bombing The Blitz . After the war he was threatened with a criminal complaint for enemy propaganda - the notorious Irish-American radio propagandist William Joyce alias Lord Haw-Haw was sentenced to death in London in 1945 and hanged in early 1946. Wodehouse was not to see his homeland again. In 1946 he was allowed to leave France for the United States. There he took American citizenship in addition to British citizenship in 1955 and died in 1975 at the age of 93.

Wodehouse left an extensive body of work: between 1902 and 1974 he published more than 90 novels, 40 plays and 200 short stories and essays. His most famous literary figures include Bertram Wooster , his valet Jeeves , his aunts Agatha and Dahlia and the novels set at Blandings Castle with Lord Emsworth , Galahad Threepwood and the fattening pig, the " Empress of Blandings " as the main protagonists.

Some of his novels are considered classics of the 20th century. The British newspaper The Guardian included several of his novels in the list of the 1000 must-read novels in 2009. Robert McCrum leads Without me, Jeeves! in the Guardian's list of the 100 best English-language novels . In 2015, 82 international literary critics and scholars voted Old Adel Not Rusting one of the most important British novels . John le Carré, on the other hand, stated in a newspaper article published in 1996 that every book collection had to contain a well-read copy of Then Not, Jeeves with the masterful description of a failed award by the drunken Gussie Fink-Nottle .

Several Wodehouse novels have been adapted for television. Among other things, The World of Wooster was broadcast on British television between 1965 and 1967, in which the leading roles of Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price were played. From 1990 to 1993 Jeeves and Wooster - Herr und Meister (original: Jeeves and Wooster , UK 1990-1993) was shown with Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Stephen Fry as Jeeves.

After German translations of Wodehouse novels had been out of print for a long time, the Swiss publisher Edition Epoca began to reissue the novels in new translations by Thomas Schlachter in 2000.



Emmeline Deane: Portrait of Cardinal Newman , 1889.
Newman was one of the British great minds of the 19th century. He was a 2nd uncle of PG Wodehouse. The portraitist was Wodehouse's aunt.

Wodehouse was born to Eleanor Wodehouse (née Deane) and Henry Ernest Wodehouse (1845-1929) while his mother was visiting Guildford. His father was a colonial clerk who served as a judge in Hong Kong .

Family background

On the paternal side, the family can be traced back to Mary Boleyn , Anne Boleyn's sister . As early as 1623 Philip Wodehouse was raised to the status of a baronet . PG Wodehouse's father was one of the grandsons of Sir Armine Wodehouse, 5th Baronet. His eldest son was raised to the status of baron in 1797. Two generations later, in 1866, the family was bestowed the title of Earl of Kimberley . Wodehouse belongs to the extensive family circle of one of the oldest English noble families and was at least theoretically a contender for the title of Earl. In a review of the Wodehouse biography of Richard Usborne, the writer Anthony Powell criticized the fact that he had completely neglected this ancestry in his biography. Powell saw in family ancestry the reason for the aristocratic fantasy world in which the novels and stories of Wodehouse take place. Frances Donaldson maintains, however, that there is actually nothing in the life or estate of Wodehouse that indicates that he had the slightest interest in his ancestry. Only in a letter to his stepdaughter Leonora about what Wodehouse sees as a ridiculous argument with the American composer Jerome Kern , Wodehouse states that his reaction made the Boleyn's blood boil in his veins. Donaldson does not consider the ancestry to be particularly remarkable: towards the end of the 19th century, many families of the upper middle class could have claimed a kinship with one of the families of the British aristocracy.

Wodehouse biographer Donaldson thinks it is more interesting that Wodehouse was related on the maternal side to the British Cardinal Newman , who through his academic and literary work as well as his conversion to Catholicism influenced the intellectual life of Great Britain and Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries deeply influenced. Wodehouse's grandmother was born Fourdrinier and sister of Cardinal Newman's mother. If one wanted to search for an origin for the talent of Wodehouse at all, this would be found on the maternal side from Donaldson's point of view. PG Wodehouse's mother, Eleanor, also bore a physical resemblance to her cousin Newman, but was considered to be of no great mind within her family. Her sister Mary Deane was a serious writer, however, and her sister Emilen Deane was a painter, whose portrait of Cardinal Newman is now part of the National Gallery .


Wodehouse was born in the UK but spent the first two years of his childhood in Hong Kong. He was then sent to Great Britain with his two older brothers Peveril and Armine, where they initially lived with a foster mother in Bath.

Wodehouse shares the fate of being separated from his parents at a very early age and growing up with a foster family with numerous descendants of British colonial servants. In this way, an adequate education in the home country should be ensured. It was just as important, however, that the children were protected from the effects of tropical diseases. Among the British writers who, as so-called Raj orphans , lived through a similar, sometimes very traumatic childhood in an often loveless environment, include Rudyard Kipling and Saki .

Wodehouse and his two brothers remained in the care of their foster mother in Bath for three years. They were then sent to a type of elementary school boarding school in Croydon in 1886, run by two sisters. The brother Peveril developed a lung disease three years later, which is why the parents decided to send the children to a private school on the Channel Island of Guernsey . In 1891 his brother Armine was sent to Dulwich College , a boys' boarding school in London.

PG Wodehouse was sent to Malvern House Preparatory School in 1891. This is a preparatory school for entry into Britannia Royal Naval College. Due to eye problems, however, a professional career in the Royal Navy was impossible for Wodehouse, so he asked his father to send him to Dulwich College as well.

Dulwich College. Wodehouse attended this boys' boarding school from 1894

There is evidence that after the strict upbringing by the foster mother in Bath and the boarding school in Croydon, PG Wodehouse already felt at home at the school on Guernsey, which gave its students a comparatively large amount of freedom. However, he did not have a happy childhood in a stable environment until he entered Dulwich College. Wodehouse later even stated that the years 1894 to 1900, which he spent there, were among the happiest of his life.

He was an above average athlete who excelled in soccer, cricket, and boxing. Due to his athletic achievements, he played an important role among his classmates. His school performance was inconsistent, but he was a member of the school choir and was one of the editors of the school magazine. In William Townend he found a close friend to whom he remained connected for life.

Wodehouse remained closely connected to the boarding school well beyond his school days. Until he left Great Britain for good shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he was a regular guest at the school and insisted on writing articles about the school team's football tournaments for the school magazine Alleynian . Wodehouse biographer Donaldson sees the reason for this extraordinarily long-lasting relationship in the fact that Wodehouse lived there for the first time in a stable environment with comprehensible and reliable rules.

Maturing author

The father of PG Wodehouse found himself financially unable to offer a university career to a second son after his eldest son Armine. PG Wodehouse was therefore forced to accept an entry-level position in the London office of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in September 1900 .

In later recollections of Wodehouse, we hear again and again how shabby the furnished one-room apartment he now lived was and how much he hated his job at the bank. In his memoirs, Over Seventy , Wodehouse wrote about this time

“After two years… [the bank trainees] were sent to the Far East, to Bombay, Bangkok, Batavia and similar places. That was called 'getting your marching orders' and the thought that I should get one scared me to death. As far as I understood, you immediately became a manager of a branch or something, and the idea of ​​running a branch was one that I didn't want to get too close to. I couldn't even have managed a bratwurst stand. "

While working at the bank, Wodehouse wrote verses, short stories and articles, about eighty of which appeared in nine different newspapers and magazines. Among other things, the youth magazine The Captain , which published serial stories about life in boarding schools, was formative. Wodehouse was sure to be able to write something comparable. More important, however, was his work for the London newspaper The Globe . William Beach-Thomas, who had been one of his teachers at Dulwich College, wrote the daily By the way column for the newspaper . It was a short column that humorously commented on current events. Wodehouse began to write this column in 1901 when Beach-Thomas was on vacation. When Beach-Thomas stopped working for the newspaper, Wodehouse was offered his position. He quit his job at the bank and began working as a journalist on September 2, 1902.

Between 1902 and 1909 Wodehouse wrote a total of eight novels and was co-author of two others. Novels like The Pothunters (1902) first appeared in the youth magazine Public School Magazine , and the same applies to other works from this period. The Wodehouse biographer Donaldson emphasizes that these novels played at boarding schools are still worth reading today and already show Wodehouse's great talent as a storyteller. The central storyline is mostly sporting events in boxing, football and cricket. Critics emphasized that they - unlike the youth novels of the time - did not moralize.

In 1904, Wodehouse took a five-week vacation from The Globe to travel to the United States for the first time. In his memories of Over Seventy , he started his journey with a passion for boxing. He had an almost childlike enthusiasm for American boxing greats like James J. Jeffries , James J. Corbett , Tom Sharkey and Kid McCoy. His American experience boosted his reputation as a journalist in Great Britain, as there were few journalists at the time who knew the United States personally.

The year 1904 was defining for Wodehouse for another reason. Theater manager Owen Hall asked Wodehouse to write lyrics for a musical comedy composed by Jerome Kern called Sergeant Bruce . The song Put Me in My Little Cell proved successful and brought Wodehouse more regular theater assignments from 1908.

Psmith, Blandings, Wooster, and Jeeves: 1908-1915

Wodehouse's early writing career ended in 1909 with the publication of his novel Mike . It begins as a conventional school story, but Wodehouse concludes with the introduction of a new character. He called him Psmith, and it's the first adult protagonist in Wodehouse's work. Both Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell concluded that the introduction of this character marked a crucial turning point in Wodehouse's writing. Psmith is not only characterized by his constant monocle wear, but also by his cosmopolitanism and his solemn language. This character appears in three other novels: Psmith in the City (1910), Psmith, Journalist (1915), who is set in New York and, according to Donaldson, is one of the first novels to deal with New York gang wars, and finally Leave in 1923 it to Psmith , who plays on Blandings Castle and has the shoddy Lord Emsworth as another protagonist.

In May 1909, Wodehouse revisited New York and sold two short stories to Cosmopolitan and Collier’s magazine for $ 500, a much higher fee than he had previously achieved in Great Britain. Several trips to the USA followed until the outbreak of World War I, but Wodehouse could not find a publisher in New York that kept him busy. Wodehouse was in the United States when the First World War broke out, and since he was out of the question for military service due to his poor eyesight, he stayed there and focused on his writing career.

Wodehouse experimented with different literary genres during this time. Psmith, Journalist (1915), for example, mixes comedy with socially critical comments. In the same year appeared in the Saturday Evening Post with Something Fresh , the first novel from the Blandings Castle Saga . The novel, which the Saturday Evening Post paid Wodehouse $ 3,500 to reprint as a serialized story , is the first farce and also the first bestseller that Wodehouse wrote. The novel came out in 1915 as a hardcover book on both the UK and US book markets. In the same year, Extricating Young Gussie, the first short story with the valet Jeeves and Bertram Wooster as protagonists, appeared. The characters are not fully developed yet - Jeeves does not yet play the driving role he has in later short stories. However, Wodehouse introduced characters with both the novel Something Fresh and his short story Extricating Young Gussie , which he reverted to until the end of his life.

Married Ethel Wyman in 1914

In September 1914, Wodehouse married Ethel May Wyman (nee Newton, 1885-1984), a British widow. The marriage turned out to be very happy - Ethel was very different in personality from the low-key Wodehouse and took over all of his business activities for him. So he had more time to write himself.

Ethel brought their daughter Leonore into the marriage. Wodehouse developed a close bond with her and finally adopted her, so that she carried the name Leonora / e Wodehouse until she married the horse trainer Peter Cazalet in 1932.

New York, Broadway 1915-1919

Towards the end of 1915, Wodehouse met again in New York the composer Jerome Kern , with whom he had briefly worked in London when he had written the lyrics for Put Me in My Little Cell . Wodehouse, Jerome Kern and the playwright Guy Bolton happened to be attending the premiere of the musical comedy Very Good Eddie on December 23, 1915 . Both Bolton and Kern were dissatisfied with the lyrics. At a meeting the next day, the three authors developed ideas for future collaboration. A series of jointly produced musicals followed, which received positive feedback from the critics. The excellent lyrics by Wodehouse, the logically developing plot and the meaningful development of musical interludes from the plot were highlighted. Ira Gershwin was one of Wodehouse's admirers, Dorothy Parker called the trio their favorite musical producers, and theater critic Gerald Bordman called Wodehouse the most attentive, literary and funniest librettist of the day . For Wodehouse as well as for Kern and Bolton, the successful musicals, of which Miss Springtime (1916) was performed 227 times on Broadway, represented a substantial or even the most important source of income. These musicals, some of which were also filmed in the 1920s are no longer played today.

The 1920s

The fact that Wodehouse and his family had spent the years of World War I in the safe United States was resented in some British circles and occasionally mentioned for many years to come.

Wodehouse and his family returned briefly to Great Britain for the first time in 1918, settled briefly in London in 1919 and were repeatedly in England from 1920 for longer periods of time. Wodehouse traveled to New York again and again because there was the focus of his theater and musical work, even if after the end of the First World War, musicals and plays were increasingly staged in London, in which Wodehouse was involved to varying degrees.

As a playwright, he also brought some of his novels to the stage. He edited The Damsel in Distress and Leave it to Psmith for the stage together with Ian Hay, although The Damsel in Distress was only successful in London. For this was The Play's the Thing , an adaptation of a play by the Hungarian author Ferenc Molnár in 1926 no less than 326 York New performances. In contrast, the play flopped in London, although the well-known British actor Gerald du Maurier played the lead role.

At the same time, Wodehouse remained a successful writer of novels and short stories. Protagonists like Bertie Wooster, Reginald Jeeves, Lord Emsworth and Galahad Threepwood were developed further. Golf stories took up more space among his short stories.

Hollywood 1929-1931

The first film adaptation of a Wodehouse novel was made in 1915 with A Gentleman of Leisure , which was based on his novel of the same name published in 1910. A number of other films based on Wodehouse stories followed by 1917, but it wasn't until 1929 that Wodehouse first visited Hollywood. He succeeded his close friend Guy Bolton , who worked as a highly paid writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer . Ethel Wodehouse had managed to negotiate a very advantageous contract; PG Wodehouse was receiving $ 2,000 a week. The high salary was not unwelcome - the Wodehouse couple had lost a substantial part of their fortune in the stock market crash of 1929.

The contract began in May 1930, but MGM found little for Wodehouse to do. He found time to write another novel and nine short stories. His contract allowed him to work from home. Sometimes Wodehouse wouldn't leave the little property they'd rented for days. Despite everything, working for MGM was not very satisfying for Wodehouse. Even if the studio found a project for him to work on, it was changed by the intervention of others in such a way that his original ideas for action were rarely used. The contract was ultimately not extended. But Wodehouse gave an interview to Alma Whitaker of the Los Angeles Times at the request of the studio, which then made headlines across the country. The Los Angeles Times quoted him as saying:

“It shakes me. They paid me $ 2000 a week and I can't see what they actually hired me to do. They have always been very nice to me, but I feel like I've cheated on them. You see, as far as I understood I was hired to develop actions for the cinema for you. After all, I had no fewer than 20 novels, dozens of successful plays and countless short stories. But obviously they had great difficulty giving me anything useful to do. Twice during the year they presented me with stories developed by others and asked me to revise the dialogues in them. Fifteen or sixteen people had been working on this one and the dialogues were perfectly fine. All I did was improve it in one place or another. "

Moved to France in 1934

PG Wodehouse (1930)

In 1934 Wodehouse moved to France with his wife to avoid double taxation of his literary work by the US and UK authorities.

Second World War: internment and radio broadcasts

When World War II broke out, Wodehouse stayed in his new home in Le Touquet . After the German invasion of France in 1940, he first tried to fly to England, but only found a place for himself, but not for his wife Ethel and their dog. The attempt to drive to Portugal on May 21, 1940 failed when the car broke down after three kilometers, and when he later tried again with a car he borrowed from a neighbor, the streets were full of refugees clogged. On May 22, 1940, German troops marched into Le Touquet, and after only having to report daily, he was interned after two months like all hostile male foreigners under 60.

On July 21, 1940, Wodehouse was first brought to Belgium and then interned in September 1940 in the Tost internment camp (now Toszek ) in Upper Silesia . An Associated Press reporter's article in December 1940 brought international pressure, particularly from the United States, where he had many supporters, and US Senator William Warren Barbour presented a petition to the German ambassador in Washington to release the 59-year-old.

The camp commandant introduced himself to him as a supporter of his work and Wodehouse even got a typewriter for his work. He then wrote the novel Money in the Bank , which was published in English in 1942 in the USA and 1943 in Germany. Publication in the UK was delayed until May 1946 because of the collaboration allegations against Wodehouse. He also sent Tost postcards to his literary agent in New York asking him to send US $ 5 on his behalf to certain people in Canada - it was often that for them first signs that her son was alive and in German captivity. By circumventing postal censorship, Wodehouse risked severe penalties.

The Gestapo came on June 21, 1941 , interrupted him playing cricket, gave him ten minutes to pack and then lodged him in Berlin in the luxurious Hotel Adlon at his own expense. He had to pay the bill from bank accounts that had been frozen by the Nazis for years, into which the royalties for his books published in Germany and Austria flowed, and there was enough money to finance an extravagant lifestyle.

So, less than four months before his 60th birthday, on which he would have been released anyway, he was released into a luxurious life, in his opinion

“... I thought that because of the hype in America about a release they released me a little earlier. And as soon as I arrived I ran into an old friend, a German I knew from Hollywood. I told him about camp life, and a friend of his came along and suggested I record a radio program about it for my American readers. ... I can say with all honesty that I didn't think for a moment that it might be wrong to use the German radio to talk to the people in America whom I was grateful for (for the letters and parcels). "

The "old acquaintance" was Werner Planck, who had worked at the German consulate in Los Angeles before the war, and to whom the British fascist John Amery (son of the Minister for Indian Affairs Leopold Amery in the Churchill government) who lived in Germany , who after the war in 1945 was executed for treason, recommended Wodehouse for that purpose.

Wodehouse's biographer Barry Phelps writes in PG Wodehouse: Man and Myth that Wodehouse was now caught in a cleverly set trap: five programs were recorded on wax plates in collaboration with German radio and the Berlin correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) Broadcasted June and August 9 via CBS from Berlin to the USA. Joseph Goebbels was very satisfied with the programs. The Department of Propaganda took over the wax plates and in August they were also broadcast to the UK, which Wodehouse allegedly did not know.

The five shows, titled How to be an Internee Without Previous Training , dealt exclusively with Wodehouse's experiences in internment. They were apolitical and humorous, with the swipes typical for him at the foreigners , here French, Belgians and Germans. Some people are surprised how it slipped through the censorship, perhaps because the Propaganda Ministry did not take Wodehouse seriously and the upper class felt a certain benevolence towards Germany. They were wrong about Wodehouse. He had already made fun of Adolf Hitler and his mustache and the British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley as Roderick Spode, who also rushes through the countryside in his black shirt and short black trousers in winter, selling lingerie and “an oyster twenty-five paces away with one just staring at it, ”which reminds us of the other leader.

Wodehouse wrote in his first broadcast:

“Young men, starting out in life, have often asked me 'How can I become an Internee?' Well, there are several methods. My own was to buy a villa in Le Touquet on the coast of France and stay there till the Germans came along. This is probably the best and simplest system. You buy the villa and the Germans do the rest. "

“Young men who are just beginning their careers have often asked me, 'How can I become an internee?' Well, there are different methods. Mine was to buy a villa in Le Touquet on the coast of France and stay there until the Germans got there. This is probably the best and easiest system. You buy the villa and the Germans do the rest. "

Ethel arrived in Berlin the day after Wodehouse recorded the last program. She had had to sell almost all of her jewelry for the trip, but there was enough money now: the royalties were in the bank and the Germans had paid Wodehouse for the radio broadcasts.

Aftermath: Reactions and Investigations

The reactions to the broadcasts in the UK were negative, even hostile, and he was "reviled ... as a traitor, a collaborator, Nazi propagandist and a coward" although many, as Phelps noted, did not even condemn the radio broadcasts had heard.

Bookstores and libraries took it off their shelves, reminding many of times in another country.

The government was asked to act in parliament. There were calls that if he was caught by soldiers he should be shot dead, otherwise he should be hanged like a common traitor.

The discussion continued until Wodehouse was captured in Paris in early September 1944. Extradition to the United Kingdom, where the waves were still rising, did not take place, but Wodehouse was threatened with arrest if he set foot on British soil. In June 1946, the French authorities told him that they would not prosecute him, but that he and his wife would have to leave France. In July 1946 they succeeded in obtaining visas for the USA, but Ethel first had to go on a month-long shopping trip to London for the bare minimums, so that the departure from France for the USA was delayed until April 1947.

Living in the USA

Wodehouse took on US citizenship in addition to British citizenship in 1955. In 1965 the British government let him know privately that he could now return home without the risk of criminal proceedings, but by then he was 83 years old and frail.

He was nominated three times for a "knighthood" in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He finally got the title Order of the British Empire six weeks before his death on the 1975 New Year list. Charles Chaplin was also promoted to the Order of the British Empire on the same list , and some gossip papers wrote that the balance was struck: The Communist Chaplin and the fascist Wodehouse were both ennobled. These were slanders, however: Chaplin was no more a communist than Wodehouse was a fascist.

Literary work

Frances Donaldson points out that it is often overlooked that for many years Wodehouse was not only a novelist but also wrote for the stage. Many of the protagonists who appear in novels and stories by Wodehouse were originally modeled on stereotypical characters from entertainment theater. When asked whether there was a role model for the character of the valet Jeeves , Wodehouse, who gave notoriously unreliable information about his own life and work, gave a number of different answers. However, he wrote to longtime friend and co-writer Guy Bolton :

“... When we did Bring on the Girls together, I said I had designed Jeeves after a butler I named Robinson. Of course that's not true. At the beginning I had no other role model for him than the conventional theater butler. "

In another, similarly credible context, Wodehouse has pointed out that he initially created Bertie Wooster as the typical dandy that was widespread in the comedies of the Edwardian era. The Wodehouse biographer Richard Usborne takes the view that Wodehouse immortalized his two aunts Mary and Louisa Deane in the fictional aunts Agatha and her sister Dahlia. Usborne also argues that this is why these two fictional characters appear so often in the novels and stories of Wodehouse, where they are ridiculed and ultimately outsmarted again and again because the real aunts Mary and Louisa Deane tried to discipline the young Wodehouse. Other writers who, like Wodehouse, were withdrawn from parental control at an early age would have compensated for this traumatic loss in revenge fantasies. Wodehouse sought this revenge in literary ridicule. Donaldson, on the other hand, believes this assessment is wrong and argues that both aunts ultimately represented classic literary figures of British humor.

Even Evelyn Waugh holds the presumption that Wodehouse embodied his protagonist after real models, for not applicable. In an article for the Sunday Times Magazine in 1961, he wrote that the characters in Wodehouse were not characters from the Edwardian age , as is often claimed, but purely fantasy characters. Although they occasionally harbored intentions to marry a wealthy heiress, motivated by the hope of dowry, seduction and adultery are completely alien to them. The characters from Wodehouse get angry, get drunk, kidnapped, smuggled and blackmailed, but they always do it without real brutality in a fantasy world of unspoilt paradisiacal innocence.

Wodehouse is also characterized by its virtuoso play with linguistic clichés. Donaldson cites as an example a short dialogue between the first-person narrator Bertie Wooster and Spode, the supposed protector of Madeline Bassett, from the novel Old Adel Does Not Rust :

"You can tell him I'm going to break his neck."

"Break your neck?"

"Yes. Are you deaf? Break your neck. "

I nodded peacefully.

"Understand. Break your neck. So it is right. And if he asks why? "

“Then he will already know why. Because he is a butterfly who plays with the hearts of women and then throws them away like dirty gloves. "

Wodehouse fans

The British writer Hilaire Belloc is widely credited for being the first to draw attention to the unusual quality of Wodehouse's literary work. On a US radio show in the 1930s, he described Wodehouse as one of the best contemporary writers. The assessment did not go unchallenged, as the storylines are confused and the language often appears simple. From the point of view of Frances Donaldson, the apparent simplicity of the sentences belies Wodehouse's ability to play virtuous with language. Evelyn Waugh noted about Wodehouse that someone like him, who wrote three uniquely brilliant and original comparisons on each page of the book , could only be classified as a linguistic master. At the same time, his language is easily accessible. The list of Wodehouse's supporters is accordingly very extensive. It ranges from Bertolt Brecht and Daniel Kehlmann to Evelyn Waugh , Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman to Tony Blair and the English Queen Mother . The rock musicians Sting and Lemmy Kilmister are or were avowed Wodehouse readers.

Works (excerpt)

Novels from the Blandings Castle saga
  • Something Fresh (1915); German title: In old freshness
  • Summer Lightning (1929); German title: Sommerliches Schlossgewitter
  • Heavy Weather (1933); German title: His Lordship and the Pig ; Be and pig
  • Uncle Fred in the Springtime ; German title: Schloss Blandings in the storm of feelings
  • Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend
  • Full moon ; German title: Full moon over Blandings Castle
  • Uncle Dynamite ; German title: Onkel Dynamit
  • Pigs Have Wings (1952); German title: Schwein oder nichtschwein
  • Service with a Smile (1961); German title: Always at your service
  • Galahad at Blandings (1965); German title: Wealth does not protect against love
  • A Pelican at Blandings (1969); German title: A pelican in the castle
  • Sunset at Blandings
  • Blandings Castle and Elsewhere (1935); German title Herr auf Schloß Blandings
Jeeves and Bertie novels
  • The Inimitable Jeeves (1923); German title: The incomparable Jeeves
  • Carry on Jeeves (1924); German title: Keep it up, Jeeves . The short story collection includes a. the story of Bertie's and Jeeves' first meeting Jeeves takes the helm
  • Very Good Jeeves (1930); German title: Jeeves is in a class of its own ; Jeeves saves the situation
  • Right Ho, Jeeves (1934); German title: Then not, Jeeves ; Come on, Jeeves!
  • Thank you, Jeeves (1934); German title: Thank you, Jeeves! ; Bertie in wild anticipation ; Thanks a million Jeeves!
  • The Code of the Woosters (1938); German title: Old nobility does not rust ; A matter of honor, Jeeves!
  • Joy in the Morning (1946); German title: Without me, Jeeves! ; Sponge over it, sir ; Help, Jeeves! ; Title in the United States: Jeeves in the Morning
  • The Mating Season (1949); German title The highest of feelings ; Jeeves works wonders
  • Ring for Jeeves (1953)
  • Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954); German title: Nobility forgets itself
  • Jeeves in the Offing (1960); German title: Wo geht Jeeves ; No vacation for Jeeves
  • Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963); German title: Was tun, Jeeves? ; SOS, Jeeves! , published by Epoca.
  • Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971); United States title: Jeeves and the Tie That Binds ; German title: It doesn't work without a butler
  • Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (1974); German title five to twelve, Jeeves  ; Title in the United States: The Catnappers
  • Psmith, journalist (1915)
  • Psmith in the City
  • Leave It to Psmith (1923); German title Psmith macht alles ; A lord in need
Musical Comedies in cooperation with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton
  • Miss Springtime (New York, 1916)
  • Have a Heart (New York, 1917)
  • Oh Boy (New York, 1917; re-performed in London in 1919 under the title Oh, Joy )
  • Leave it to Jane (New York, 1917)
  • The Reviera Girl (New York, 1917)
  • Oh lady Lady! (New York, 1918)
  • Sally (New York, 1920 and London, 1921)
  • Sitting Pretty (New York, 1924)
Musical comedies in cooperation with other composers and theater writers
  • The Pothunters (1902)
  • A Prefect's Uncle (1903)
  • Quick Service (1940)
    • Übers. Thomas Schlachter: Now or never! Suhrkamp, ​​2006 (license Epoca, Zurich)
  • Laughing Gas (1936)
  • The Luck of the Bodkins (1935); German title: Monty in luck
  • Performing Flea (Autobiography)
  • The Indiscretions of Archie (1921); German title: He can't say no
  • Piccadilly Jim (1917)
  • Bachelors Anonymous
  • The Little Nugget (1913); German title: Ein Goldjunge
  • Pearls, Girls & Monty Bodkin (1972); German title: Dear rich and happy
  • Something Fishy ; German title Something is fishy here


  • Benny Green: PG Wodehouse: A Literary Biography , London: Pavilion Michael Joseph, 1981, ISBN 0-907516-04-1
  • Martin Breit: PG Wodehouse: Gentleman of Literature , Zurich: Römerhof, 2014, ISBN 978-3-905894-20-2
  • Lee Davis: Bolton and Wodehouse and Kern. The Men Who Made Musical Comedy. Heineman, New York 1993, ISBN 0-87008-145-4
  • Barry Day and Tony Ring: PG Wodehouse 'In his own words , London: Hutchinson, 2001, ISBN 0-09-179399-8
  • Barry Day (Ed.): The Complete Lyrics of PG Wodehouse. Scarecrow, Lanham 2004, ISBN 0-8108-4994-1 .
  • Frances Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . London 1982, ISBN 0-297-78105-7 .
  • Robert McCrum: Wodehouse. A life. Norton, New York 2004, ISBN 0-393-05159-5 .
  • Richard Usborne: Plum Sauce. A PG Wodehouse Companion. Overlook, Woodstock / NY 2003, ISBN 1-58567-441-9 , pp. 137-207.
  • Thomas Schlachter (Ed.): Wodehouse in the war. The Berlin radio speeches and their consequences . Edition Epoca, Bern 2013, ISBN 978-3-905513-58-5 .
  • Iain Sproat : Wodehouse at War . New Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1981

Web links

Commons : PG Wodehouse  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lejeune, Anthony (December 11, 1995). "Jeeves's England", National Review : 132, quoted in Pavlovski and Darga, p. 333
  2. ^ Robert McCrum: Wodehouse. A life. Norton, New York 2004, ISBN 0-393-05159-5 , pp. 301ff.
  3. 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read: The Definitive List , accessed April 4, 2016.
  4. The best British novel of all times - have international critics found it? The Guardian , accessed February 6, 2016
  5. John le Carré; Personal Best: Right Ho, Jeeves , Salon. September 30, 1996 , accessed April 24, 2016.
  6. Herr und Meister on Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  7. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 39.
  8. ^ Anthony Powell, review in The Daily Telegraph , October 20, 1961
  9. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 40.
  10. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 41.
  11. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 42.
  12. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 46.
  13. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 44.
  14. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 48.
  15. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 53.
  16. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 49 to p. 52.
  17. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 54.
  18. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 57.
  19. PG Wodehouse: Over Seventy , p. 24. The original quote is: At the end of two years ... they were sent out East to Bombay, Bangkok, Batavia and suchlike places. This was called getting one's order, and the thought of getting mine scared the pants off me. As far as I could make out, when you were sent East you immediately became a branch manager or something of the sort, and the picture of myself managing a branch was one I preferred not to examine too closely. I couldn't have managed a whelk stall.
  20. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 58.
  21. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 59.
  22. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 67.
  23. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 68.
  24. ^ PG Wodehouse: Over Seventy . P. 29
  25. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 82.
  26. a b : Usborne: Plum Sauce. A PG Wodehouse Companion. P. 9
  27. ^ McCrum: Wodehouse. A life. P. 83
  28. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 81.
  29. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 98.
  30. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 110.
  31. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 111.
  32. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 112.
  33. Gerald Bordman: "Jerome David Kern: Innovator / Traditionalist", The Musical Quarterly , 1985, Vol. 71, no. 4, pp. 468-473
  34. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 115.
  35. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 117.
  36. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 114.
  37. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 140.
  38. quoted from Donaldson, p. 144
  39. PG Wodehouse and the Berlin Broadcasts , accessed October 27, 2018.
  40. ^ I was not a Nazi collaborator, PG Wodehouse told MI5. Creator of Jeeves was upset at British criticism of his wartime broadcasts from Berlin. , accessed October 28, 2018.
  41. PG Wodehouse Berlin Broadcast # 1 , accessed on October 28, 2018.
  42. ^ I was not a Nazi collaborator, PG Wodehouse told MI5. Creator of Jeeves was upset at British criticism of his wartime broadcasts from Berlin. , accessed October 28, 2018.
  43. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 13.
  44. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 10.
  45. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 11.
  46. ^ Evelyn Waugh, The Sunday Times Magazine . July 16, 1961
  47. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 1.
  48. ^ A b Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 2.
  49. Frances Donaldson: Evelyn Waugh: Portrait of a Country Neighbor . London 1967, p. 73
  50. ^ Donaldson: PG Wodehouse: A Biography . P. 110 and p. 111.