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20 May 1982
P.G. WodehouseA Literary Biography 
by Benny Green.
Joseph, 256 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 907516 04 1
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Wodehouse​ on WodehouseBring on the girls (with Guy Bolton), Performing Flea, Over Seventy 
Penguin, 655 pp., £2.95, September 1981, 0 14 005245 3Show More
P.G. WodehouseAn Illustrated Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Eel Pie, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 0 906008 44 1
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P.G. WodehouseA Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 
edited by James Heineman and Donald Bensen.
Oxford, 197 pp., £40, February 1982, 0 19 520357 7
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The World of P.G.​ Wodehouse 
by Herbert Warren Wind.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 145670 3
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... Lying in bed with a cracked rib, I have been much consoled by these genial books about Wodehouse. The only dangerous one was Wodehouse on Wodehouse, since I was compelled to laugh aloud, boyishly, provoking the old knife-in-kidney sensation. Should any other member of the Ukridge idiot school chance upon this review, after being tipped off his ...
4 April 1991
After Hours with P.G.​ Wodehouse 
by Richard Usborne.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £15.99, February 1991, 0 09 174712 0
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... religion, a lay critic said it reminded him of the man who began by talking about Alexander’s battles and ended up by describing an Armenian wheelbarrow. That is how it was in the bar parlour of Wodehouse’s Angler’s Rest: ‘In our little circle I have known an argument on the Final Destination of the Soul to change inside forty seconds into one concerning the best method of preserving bacon fat ...


Richard Usborne: On Cutting P.G. Wodehouse

4 October 1984
... I have had, as a holiday task, to cut the sixty-five-thousand-word P.G.Wodehouse novel Quick Service, published in 1940, down to about twenty-five thousand words for a BBC Radio Book at Bedtime. Ten periods of 14 minutes, nine of them to start with a minute or so of re-cap of ...

Oh, Lionel!

Christopher Hitchens

3 December 1992
P.G. WodehouseMan and Myth 
by Barry Phelps.
Constable, 344 pp., £16.95, October 1992, 9780094716209
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... We know from his immense correspondence that P.G.Wodehouse was at once omnivorous and discriminating in his reading (garbage in; synthesis out – a good maxim for any young reader-for-pleasure setting out on life’s road). He cited authors as various as ...

No snarling

Fatema Ahmed: P.G. Wodehouse

3 November 2005
by Joseph Connolly.
Haus, 192 pp., £9.99, September 2004, 1 904341 68 3
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WodehouseA Life 
by Robert McCrum.
Penguin, 542 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 14 100048 1
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... tucked between yet another novel by Somerset Maugham and J.B. Priestley’s account of a journey to Mexico with his archaeologist wife, was a copy of Carry On, Jeeves. I had never heard of P.G.Wodehouse and racing through these stories of a master and his manservant I was surprised to find that, so far as I could tell, they were seriously funny and devoid of serious meaning. There was no more ...
25 October 1990
Yours, Plum: The Letters of P.G.​ Wodehouse 
edited by Frances Donaldson.
Hutchinson, 269 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 09 174639 6
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... feared literature’s rich dishonesty, its endless begging of the question. Writers disappeared into their own dreams and vanities: their great hearts were not on display. Did Wittgenstein read P.G.Wodehouse? Probably not, but had he done so he might have got on with him very well, as he did with the conventions of early cinema. With such things you knew where you were, and a philosopher likes that ...

Mr Toad

John Bayley

20 October 1994
Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... that the book and its author were ‘fundamentally without humour’. A surprising charge: but, on reflection, surprisingly accurate. Waugh, in his black style, had no more humour than P.G.Wodehouse in his rosy style. Waugh deeply admired Wodehouse, and read and re-read him all his working life. But humour in fiction is about an interest in real people, and Waugh had no such interest. Neither ...

Ferrets can be gods

Katherine Rundell

10 August 2016
Gabriel-Ernest and Other Tales 
by Saki and Quentin Blake.
Alma Classics, 156 pp., £6.99, October 2015, 978 1 84749 592 1
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... The soldier was perhaps the wittiest writer Britain had; his other name was Saki. Saki’s short stories take place in a world far from the Somme. It’s a world, like that of Oscar Wilde or P.G.Wodehouse, of silk curtains and silver tea sets, though Saki’s is populated not only with tyrannical aunts and obtuse majors, but also with tigers and woodland gods. In ‘Sredni Vashtar’, a boy worships a ...
18 February 1988
Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies and the Reagan Era 
by Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 479 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86091 176 4
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... or commendatory remarks about family, good cooking (excluding Chinese), figures of stoic calm and moral truthfulness (Israel Shahak, Chairman of the Israeli League of Human Rights), socialism, P.G.Wodehouse. The present collection, culled from a decade’s writing in America, is principally useful as a map of how far and deep the American Empire has reached into the minds of the country’s writers ...

Master’s Voice

Stuart Hampshire

19 June 1986
The Time of My Life: An Autobiography 
by W.V. Quine.
MIT, 499 pp., £21.50, September 1985, 0 262 17003 5
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... retirement after many years’ teaching at Harvard. His tone here is jaunty, and he expresses steady enjoyment of almost everything that has happened to him along the way. In the age of P.G.Wodehouse there used to be an adjuration, typically shouted from a touchline of schoolboys: ‘Buck up there, Smith.’ Professor Quine has been enormously, almost monstrously bucked up, according to his own ...

Hink Tank

Nicholas Penny

19 July 1984
The Gymnasium of the Mind: The Journals of Roger Hinks 1933-1963 
edited by John Goldsmith.
Michael Russell, 287 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 85955 096 6
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... of design which shock a purist like myself’. Upon the company within he casts a disdainful eye. There is Hiram Winterbotham ‘who sounds like an American millionaire in a novel by P.G.Wodehouse’ but is in fact a ‘bachelor with intellectual tastes’, wearing ‘enormous, totally non-conducting tortoise-shell glasses’ and accompanied by ‘a friend, inevitably called Michael, who said ...
21 September 2006
The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 505 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 571 23217 5
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... I think it was P.G.Wodehouse who observed that the English strike Americans as funny when they are just being English. Similarly, philosophers strike the laity as funny when they are just being philosophers, and that makes it ...


R.W. Johnson: Magdalen College

19 November 2009
... was described in 1899 as ‘doing nothing with the utmost steadiness’. The young Betjeman, who was sent down from Magdalen, wrote that ‘life was luncheons, luncheons all the way’. P.G.Wodehouse naturally decided that Bertie Wooster had been to Magdalen. In the late 19th century Magdalen began to have a few international scholars of note, but real change came only in the 1920s and 1930s ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style

20 January 2011
... One aspect of Tony Blair’s memoir was under-celebrated when it was published last year: its remarkable handling of style.* For a 700-page book that was written in a hurry, A Journey’s register is very carefully judged. (Even the grammatical errors are impressively consistent: ‘The weeping and gnashing of teeth is pointless ...


Donald Rayfield

19 July 1984
Dostoevsky. Vol II: The Years of Ordeal 1850-1859 
by Joseph Frank.
Robson, 320 pp., £14.95, April 1984, 0 86051 242 8
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The Village of Stepanchikovo 
by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ignat Avsey.
Angel, 255 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 946162 06 9
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... at his greatest you would have to be uncommonly perceptive to see any real promise in either work. They have a galumphing comic quality, as of a Brian Rix farce turned into a story, and P.G.Wodehouse could have reshaped them. At best, they show Dostoevsky as the greatest playwright that Russia never had, for in them he sharpens his gift for causing the character and intrigue of a novel to develop ...

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