Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Hello again, dear Planksters, and I trust that all is well with you.
I’ve just reached the end of another wonderful biography, this time about the brilliantly funny Sir P.G. Wodehouse, ‘Wodehouse - A Life’, extremely well- written by Robert McCrum.
Like Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows' and A.A. Milne’s ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’, the worlds that P.G. Wodehouse create are places that I like to get lost in - happy places – refuges in times of stress. And, like the two aforementioned authors, P.G. Wodehouse was often writing from a place of difficulty, even during the trauma of war.
A man who seemed to like to keep his private life private, Wodehouse had it hurled (unfairly, in my opinion) into the limelight, when he agreed to broadcast on a German radio station during the Second World War, after being held in a Nazi internment camp for eleven months. True, it wasn’t a good decision, Wodehouse himself described it as a 'ghastly mistake', but I’d like to think that times have changed and that following lengthy captivity, the world would be a little more forgiving toward someone for making some ill-judged decisions. Be it a public figure or your regular Joe Bloggs, no one should be held accountable for their mental state, regardless of how they seemed to cope with the ordeal at the time. Now there are charities set up for people in similar situations, offering counselling and support, and not judgment, exile, and interrogations by MI5!! Thank goodness!
I was fascinated to learn that during his lifetime, P. G. Wodehouse wrote over ninety books, as well as being on top of his game as a lyricist in the theatrical world. He had an amazing mind, wonderful observational skills, and apparently was totally normal and almost ‘boring’ to meet – which I love!
His writing process and dedication to his craft are something to learn from. It included morning exercises
(the ‘Daily Dozen!' - one of my favourite pictures from the book!), coffee and cake, writing (between 2500 and, later, 1000 words per day, his age depending!) walks with his dogs, more writing, cocktails and dinner with his wife, relaxing, then bed! – This man had it nailed! He was still doing this in his nineties and three years later, whilst in hospital being treated for a skin condition, he died. The doctor found him sitting in his chair, with his pipe and tobacco, and the manuscript he was working on nearby. What a legend – passed on still doing what he loved the most.
Although he never returned to live in Britain following the German Broadcasts, choosing instead to settle in America, forgiveness came in the way of a knighthood, in recognition of his services to English literature – and rightly so!!
I’m now launching into ‘Wodehouse – A Life in Letters', edited by Sophie Ratcliffe, and hope to get a real insight into the man behind those letters.
Incidentally, for anyone considering an Audible version of a P.G. Wodehouse story, anything narrated by Jonathan Cecil is excellent.
With a glassy stare and a hollow laugh,