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 and 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 occupied France in 1940, Wodehouse became subject to a Nazi decree that all English males under age 60 were to be immediately interned. He was sent to camps in Belgium and to Tost in Upper Silesia, where he remained until June 1941. He naively 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 he had many defenders. He moved to the U.S. and 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 wrote that Wodehouse was “agnostic towards matters of faith.” (D. 1975)

Freedom From Religion Foundation