P.G. Wodehouse (Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse) was an English writer and humorist, whose work traveled the world. He was born the third son of a British magistrate living and working in Hong Kong. Wodehouse arrived prematurely while his mother was visiting family in Guildford, England. He was raised in Hong Kong for two years, before Wodehouse and his brothers were sent to live back in England. He saw little of his parents as a child.
After finishing school, Wodehouse took up a position in a bank but hated it. At home, he began to write pieces for magazines and soon started to find well-paid opportunities to publish his articles. He resigned from the bank to write full time, which he did...prolifically. He experimented with different types of genres and style, living between England and New York from 1908 to the early 1920s. His most famous character, “Jeeves” was introduced in a short story in 1915 and would go on to be a staple character in many more of Wodehouse’s short stories and novels.
In 1904, Wodehouse was invited to write some additional lyrics for the musical comedy Sergeant Blue, which were well received and added the title of theatre writer to his bow. He worked with a young Jerome Kern in London in 1906 and in 1915, the two men reconnected with Kern introducing Wodehouse to Guy Bolton. Bolton became one of Wodehouse’s closest friends and the trio had a string of musical hits, including Leave It to Jane (1917), Oh, Boy! (1917–18), and Oh, Lady! Lady!! (1918).
After returning to England, Wodehouse lost a substantial sum of money in the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He was then employed as a writer for MGM in Hollywood, but his contract was not renewed after the first year. Wodehouse was persuaded to return to writing for the stage by Guy Bolton and, along with Cole Porter, the trio wrote the huge hit Anything Goes (1934).
The 1930s saw Wodehouse reach his peak of productivity, writing many novels and short stories during the remainder of the decade. At the onset of World War Two, he lived in France with his wife, where he was interned by the Germans.before being transported to Berlin. While there, he made several broadcasts on German radio and was reviled as a traitor to Britain. However, he was later concluded to have acted ‘unwisely’ and took refuge in New York after the war. He became an American citizen in 1955 and was awarded a knighthood by the British government in 1975 despite his ‘wartime indiscretion’. Wodehouse died in 1975 at the age of 93.
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