Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, (15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975) was an English author and one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century. Born in Guildford, the son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong, Wodehouse spent happy teenage years at Dulwich College, to which he remained devoted all his life. After leaving school he was employed by a bank but disliked the work and turned to writing in his spare time. His early novels were mostly school stories, but he later switched to comic fiction, creating several regular characters who became familiar to the public over the years. They include the feather-brained Bertie Wooster and his sagacious valet, Jeeves; the immaculate and loquacious Psmith; Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle set; the Oldest Member, with stories about golf; and Mr Mulliner, with tall tales on subjects ranging from bibulous bishops to megalomaniac movie moguls.
Tips On Writing
Keep professional notebooks. The entries in Wodehouse’s notebooks and commonplace books are numbered for future reference. It’s obvious reading them that he is always on the lookout for material, always combing his environment for ideas. If he makes some small observation that might not be useful for two weeks, ten months or five years, he doesn’t rely on memory to preserve it for him. The notebooks are full of instructions to himself. They were going to be re-read. “Try this…” crops up time and time again.
Wodehouses stories and novels were always ruthlessly plotted before a word of text was typed. It’s this intense respect for the conventions of storyline that make his many novels each similar enough to attract repeat readership, but each unique enough to reward it. That requires hard background work and deep knowledge of writing as craft.
Wodehouse did between three and ten drafts of everything, and where necessary would start all over again on a piece.
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Did You Know?..
Wodehouse played cricket amongst some of the finest celebrities of the day.
Allahakbarries was an amateur cricket team founded by author J. M. Barrie, and was active from 1890 to 1913. The team was named in the mistaken belief that Allah akbar meant Heaven help us in Arabic (rather than God is great). Notable figures to have featured for the side included Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, P. G. Wodehouse, G. K. Chesterton, Jerome K. Jerome, A. A. Milne, E. W. Hornung, Henry Justice Ford, A. E. W. Mason, Walter Raleigh, E. V. Lucas, Maurice Hewlett, Owen Seaman, Bernard Partridge, Augustine Birrell, Paul Du Chaillu, Henry Herbert La Thangue, George Cecil Ives, and George Llewelyn Davies, as well as the son of Alfred Tennyson.