Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Real P.G. Wodehouse

The great myth about P.G. Wodehouse, until he died at 93 in 1975, was that his characters had only the vaguest connection with reality. They were solely the fruit of one man's fantasies, nurtured over decades while living abroad, it was claimed. 'Wodehousean' has come to imply a world of idle Etonians little touched by the Fall of Man, while 'Bertie Woosterish' is an insult employed by the Left against anyone it wants to tar as an ally of the House of Lords.

Colonel Norman Murphy started investigating the matter more than a generation ago, and these two stout volumes contain some of the most dedicated sleuthing in the history of literary detective work.

[. . .]

He shows how Wodehouse's first major creation, the scapegrace Ukridge, was an amalgam of three early friends. While Jeeves's name was taken from a Warwickshire cricketer, his erudition coincided with that of a butler called Robinson who, asked about the sex life of the African spider, explained that she bestowed her favours on her male counterpart then had him for lunch.
A Wodehouse Handbook: The World and Words of P. G. Wodehouse by N.P.T. Murphy reviewed by David Twiston-Davies.

Earlier posts on Wodehouse:

A nugget - Hitler at the Crossroads - from a Mulliner story, Buried Treasure.
Another nugget - On Those who Read Thrillers - from the short story, The Crime Wave at Blandings.
A post: The Alternate Universe of P.G. Wodehouse.
And a post on Writing Dedications that quotes Wodehouse's classic from The Heart of a Goof.


Robert the Llama Butcher said...

Any idea where Col. Murphy's book might be available? (There's no Amazon listing - at least in the States.)

Debangana said...

Why don't you post a review on Wodehouse's Jeeves novels?

mandar talvekar said...

Hi, Robert the UK Amazon site lists the book, though at the moment the site is showing it as unavailable.

Debangana, review Wodehouse? No way. I wouldn't have anything to say except - open the book and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

There's a new edition: http://www.wodehouse.ca