P.G. Wodehouse

On this date in 1881, humorist Pelman Grenville ("Plum") P.G. Wodehouse was born. He lived with his parents in Hong Kong as a toddler, then was sent to be cared for by aunts in England. Wodehouse (pronounced "Woodhouse") was educated at Dulwich College. His first novel was published when he was 21 in 1902. The humorist, who wrote for Punch and other magazines, introduced the characters of the foppish, foolish Bertie Wooster and his invaluable valet, Jeeves, in The Man with Two Left Feet (1917). The series Wodehouse wrote about the pair became favorites with Bertrand Russell, among other famous fans. In addition to his 120 books, Wodehouse occasionally moonlighted as a lyricist, writing the words for the song "Bill" in "Showboat," for instance. Living in Le Touquet, France, at the outbreak of World War II, Wodehouse was captured by Germans and interned for more than a year in France and Berlin. At the urging of fellow prisoners, he agreed to give light-hearted and innocuous interviews broadcast by the Germans, poking fun at his plight. The interviews were met with cries of treason in England, although his many defenders there included George Orwell. He moved to the United States, became a citizen in 1955, and was knighted in England in 1975. Like many humorists, Wodehouse, known as "English literature's performing flea," was not religious. Biographer Robert McCrum (Wodehouse: A Life, 2004) writes that Wodehouse was "agnostic towards matters of faith." D. 1975.

“'It is a strange religion,' he murmured. 'A strange religion, indeed.'”

—P.G. Wodehouse's story, "The Coming of Gowf," 1960

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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