PG Wodehouse death anniversary: Everything you need to know about the banker-turned-author-turned scriptwriter

The day dedicated to love, February 14, also saw the demise of one of the most beloved humorists of the 20th century. The creator of immortal characters like the gentlemanly Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse breathed his last on February 14, 1975. He was 93 at the time of his death.

The third son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong, Wodehouse spent most of his teenage at Dulwich College, London, the influence of which can be seen in many of his Jeeves novels.

Born on October 15, 1881, Wodehouse even wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies and began writing for MGM in Hollywood in the 1930s.

Career and knighthood

Even though Wodehouse began his career at the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank situated in London (later renamed as HSBC), he soon got bored and embarked on a career in journalism in 1902. The same year saw the publication of his first novel The Pothunters and in 1903, A Perfect Uncle. More works would follow soon after.

A lot of Wodehouse’s works were originally published in Punch, Cosmopolitan, Collier’s, The New Yorker, The Strand, and Vanity Fair before being considered as collections.

PG Wodehouse was considered a knighthood thrice, but the honour was twice blocked by British officials. In 1974, the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, intervened to secure a knighthood (KBE) for Wodehouse.

Controversies

Despite making a name for himself as an author in the UK, Wodehouse settled in France and five years later, World War II broke out. He chose to remain in France after the war and was later arrested by the Germans. He was released a year later and went on to humorously narrate his encounters in American Radio broadcasts.

In September 1914, Wodehouse married Ethel May Wayman, an English widow. The marriage was happy and strong for the remainder of his life. Even though, the couple had no children of his own, Wodehouse loved Leonara, Ethel’s daughter from an early marriage and adopted her legally. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1944.

Here are a few profound, melancholy and sometimes outright funny quotes attributed to the author:

1. There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.

2. The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number.

3. There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter? The mood will pass, sir.

4. He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.

5. Everything in life that’s any fun, as somebody wisely observed, is either immoral, illegal or fattening.

6. Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.

7. The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.

PG Wodehouse was a prolific writer throughout his life, and published more than 90 books, 40 plays, 200 short stories and other writings.

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