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Wodehouse at Hunstanton Hall (Wodehouse at Hunstanton Hall)


Plum was the name used by himself, family and friends from young age, being short for Pelham,
from his full name of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. And I believe Plum is also the favourite "name"
among Wodehouse fans when talking and thinking about him.

He was born on 15th october 1881 as the third of four sons to Ernest and Eleanor (Dean) Wodehouse,
and after a couple of years with his parents in Hong Kong he was brought up in England together with
his brothers, mostly in the care of governesses, schools, aunts and uncles.

He started reading and writing at quite an early age, and his first own poem was according to himself
written at the quite tender age of 5.

Plum's first poem
First poem 1886 (Click to read it at Madame Eulalie)

He was extremely productive and is known to have published almost 100 books, innumerable articles,
20 screenplays, 15 plays and lyrics to 30 musicals/musical comedies (most of them successes),
in collaboration with many of the greatest names in the genre.

One of the reasons for this productivity probably was that reading, his own writing, family
and family pets seems to have been the few things he really cared about.

( Some pictures of Plum and Ethel with their animals )

But not to forget, he was always entusiastic about, and truly fond of Dulwich College, the school he
attended from 1894 to 1900, and where he possibly had his happiest times.

Plum with dog
Plum with dog

And having a rather retiring personality he both had and made time to concentrate on his work.
He actually had his last (and unfinished) manuscript with him in the hospital when he died on
Valentines Day 14th February 1975.
(It was later published as "Sunset at Blandings", edited and commented by Richard Usborn).

Many praise his work and the mostly idyllic worlds he created, and perhaps just this aspect of his writing
gives us a glimpse of how he in this way also created his own somewhat closed world, keeping the real
and far more brutal and exacting world "at bay".
This doesn't mean to say he was a recluse, as some people claim, but as I see it more that he liked to keep
most other things "at a distance", not letting them govern his life more than necessary.

This seems also to be how quite a lot of his fans are "using" his books, reading and re-reading them
not just for the joy and pleasure they give, but also as a sort of refuge from reality.
As for myself, that's most certainly true.

(more will follow....)

Biographical Timeline

His father Henry Ernest Wodehouse is born.

1853 (?)
His mother Eleanor Deane is born.

Henry Ernest and Eleanor Wodehouse
Henry Ernest and Eleanor (Deane) Wodehouse

His parents are married in Hong Kong.
His brother Philip Peveril John is born.

His brother Ernest Armine is born.

Plum is born at 1. Vale Place, Epsom Road, Guilford on 15th October.
Baptised Pelham Grenville Wodehouse at St. Nicholas' Church, Guildford.
Travels to Hong Kong with his mother.

Back in England with his brothers and left in the charge of a governess in Bath.

Armine, Peveril and Pelham Wodehouse
Armine, Peveril and Pelham - 188x

Placed with his brothers at Chalet School, Croydon, London.

Chalet School, Croydon
Chalet School (now Elmhurst School), Croydon (Click for full size)

Sent with his brothers to Elizabeth College, Guernsey.
(Junior School i Beechwood eller Acorn House ?)

Elizabeth College, Guernsey
Elizabeth College (Incl. Acorn House and Beechwood - Click for full size)

Moved to Malvern House, Kearnsey (Preparatory School near Dover)

His brother Richard Lancelot Deane is born.

Joins his brother Armine at Dulwich College
Played and sang in theatrical and musical productions, boxed for the School,
played for the Cricket First XI and Rugby First XV. Became a school prefect and
wrote for the school magazine The Alleynian, of which he also became editor.

Dulwich cricketer
Plum the cricketer - 1900 (Click for colorized version)

His parents is back from Hong Kong, and first take a house in Dulwich,
then moves on to Stableford, Shropshire.

Old House, Stableford
Old House, Stableford (Click for full size)

Gets his degree at Dulwich College, and starts working in the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank
in Lombard Street, London. Rents rooms in Markham Square, Chelsea.
Writing for The Public School Magazine after winning a competition with
Some Aspects of Game-Captaincy.

"Men Who Missed Their Own Wedding" - first humorous story in Tit-Bits.

markham Square 19xx
Markham Square - 190x (Click for full size)

Lombard Street 190x
Lombard Street - 190x (Click for full size)

"The Babe and the Dragon" - First story in The Captain.

Parents move to 3, Wolseley Terrace, Cheltenham.
Works extra for The Globe.
Quits the bank to be a full time writer.
"An Unfinished Collection" - First Punch article
First book of school stories "The Pothunters" publised by A. & C. Black.

Pothunters - 1902
Pothunters - 1902 (Click for full size)

Moves to 23, Walpole Street, Chelsea.
Moves to Emsworth House and then Threepwood Cottage, Emsworth.
Deputy Editor for By-The-Way column in The Globe
Play for the Author's Cricket team with Arthur Conan Doyle (among others)

Walpole Street, Chelsea, Wodehouse address
Walpole Street, Chelsea (Click for full size)

Threepwood Cottage, Emsworth
Threepwood Cottage, Emsworth (Click for full size)

First visit to USA.
Contributes to the Daily Express.
Editor for By-The-Way column.
First lyric "Put Me In My Little Cell" for Sergeant Brue (Strand Theatre, London)

Put me in my little cell
Put Me in My Little Cell (Click for full version)

The Wirepullers - First The Strand article
Kid Brady - Light-Weight, How He Made His Debut
First US publication - in Pearson's Magazine (N.Y)

The wirepullers
The Wirepullers

Resident lyricist for Seymour Hicks at the Aldwych Theatre, London.
Meets Jerome Kern for the first time.
Contributes to "The World".
"Love Among the Chickens" published by Newnes as his first full novel.
(the first Ukridge-story)

Love Among the Chickens - 1906
Love Among the Chickens - 1906 (Click for full size)

Lyrics to two songs for "The Gay Gordons" (Seymour Hicks)
Lyricist at Gaiety Theatre, London.

First story publications in USA. (Cosmopolitan and Collier's)
"Mike" - first Psmith-story.
"Love Amoung the Chickens", first book published in USA.

Love Among the Chickens - 1909 (US)
Love Among the Chickens - 1909 (US) (Click for full size)

The Matrimonial Sweepstakes published in Cosmopolitan
Archibald’s Benefit published in Collier's Weekly

"A Gentleman of Leisure", first play in USA.

First Vanity Fair article published, "The Physical Culture Peril".
"The Man Upstairs and Other Stories" (First Golf-stories)
Meets Ethel (born Newton - 1885) Rowley Wayman, and they marry.
Ethels daughter Leonora (Rowley) (born 1904 ) is adopted by Plum some time later
Rents bungalow at Bellport, Long Island, New York.

Ethel and Plum
Ethel and Plum (click for full size)

"A Gentleman of Leisure" as first movie based on PGW story.
Works as drama critic for Vanity Fair.
First Jeeves & Wooster story (Extricating Young Gussie) in The Saturday Evening Post.
First serial in the same, Something New (Something Fresh in UK)
(first Blandings-story)

Something New - 1915
Something New - 1915 (Click for full size)

Extricating Young Gussie published in the Strand
"Miss Springtime", first play with G. B. and Jerome Kern

Bolton, Plum and Kern
Bolton, Plum and Kern (Click for full size)

Moves to Great Neck, Long Island - Plays golf at Sound View golf course
The house they rented at the same time in London 1918-1920 (with plaque).

Walton Street 18
Walton Street 18 (with plaque) (klick for full size)

Walton Street plaque
Plaque of unknown origin (klick for full size)

"The Clicking of Cuthbert" (first Golf-collection)

"The Inimitable Jeeves", first Jeeves and Wooster book.

The Inimitable Jeeves - 1923
The Inimitable Jeeves - 1923

Rents a house in Gilbert Street, London

"Meet Mr. Mulliner" (first Mulliner-collection)
Rents 17, Norfolk Street (Dunraven Street), Mayfair as their London home

Norfolk (Dunraven) Street 17
Norfolk (Dunraven) Street 17 (Click for full size)

First Wodehouse book published in Norwegian.
Jill the Reckless (from 1921) = "Frøken Jill ved Teatret" in Norwegian

Frøken Jill ved teatret - 1928
Frøken Jill ved teatret - 1928 (Jill the Reckless)

"Mr. Mulliner Speaking" (incl. first Drones-stories)
First visit to Hollywood
His father Henry Ernest dies.

Moves to Hollywood with Ethel and Leonora to start work for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Leonora, Plum and Ethel
Leonora, Plum and Ethel (Click for full size)

rents 19 Grosvenor Mews

Rents a house at Arribeau, near Cannes.
Leonora marries Peter Cazalet

Peter Cazalet and Leonora Wodehouse

Granddaughter Sheran Cazalet is born.
Moves to Le Touquet, rents and later buys Low Wood

"Young Men in Spats" (first Drones-collection and Uncle Fred story)
Grandsoun Edward Cazalet is born.
2nd stay in Hollywood, again with MGM.

Works with Guy Bolton on the movie-script of "A Damsel in Distress" for RKO.

Last visit to Dulwich College (to watch a cricket match)
Receives a D.Litt at Oxford University, for services to the English language.

Plum D.Litt - 1939
Plum D.Litt - 1939 (Click for full size)

Interned by the German army, sent to Belgium, and then to Poland (Tost, Upper Silesia)

His mother Eleanor Wodehouse dies (80 years old)
Released from internment and moved to Berlin
Records radio talks intented for an American audience
Stay with Baroness Anga von Bodenhausen at Degenershausen, Magdeburg.
The radio talks are transmitted to the UK by German propaganda.
Causes stern reactions, and strong public resentment
Returns to Berlin, now with Ethel.

Returns to Degernershausen, and then back to Berlin.

Stay with Count and Countess Wolkenstein at Lobnis, Uppers Silesia.
They are then allowed to move to Paris.

Leonora dies at hospital, after an operation.
Paris is liberated, and Plum reports to US authorities.
Investigated by both the Americans, French and English, and "freed" by all.

Plum in Paris - 1945
Plum in Paris - 1945 (Click for full size)

Ethel and Plum travels to New York from Cherbourg., staying in Hotel Waylin, East 54th Street.

The Play "Don't Listen Ladies" by Guy Bolton and Plum (as Stephen Powys) is a hit.

1948 (1949?)
They buy a duplex appartment at 1000 Park Avenue, New York

1000 Park Avenue, New York
1000 Park Avenue (Click for Google Street View)

Living with Guy Bolton and his wife at Remsenburg, Long Island, N.Y.
Buys their own house in Basket Neck Lane.

Remsenburg (Borrowed from - Click for full size)

Writes new articles for Punch.

Both become American Citizens.

BBC produce the series "The World of Wooster" with Ian Carmichael and Denis Prise
as Bertie and Jeeves.

The World of Wooster
The World of Wooster (Click for full size)

BBC produce the series "Blandings Castle" with Sir Ralph Richardson as Merial Forbes
as Lord Emsworth and Lady Constance.
P. G. Wodehouse Animal Shelter opens at Remsenburg.

P. G. Wodehouse Animal Shelter
P. G. Wodehouse Animal Shelter (Click for full size)

Wax figure of Plum in Madame Tussaud's in London.
"Aunts aren't Gentlement" published as his last finished novel/book.
BBC produce the series "Wodehouse Playhouse" with John Alderton and Pauline Collins
in the major roles. Based on the Mulliner stories of PGW.

Wodehouse Playhouse
Wodehouse Playhouse (Click for full size)

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year Honours List
(KBE = Knight Commander of The Order of the British Empire)
Treated for Pemphigus skin rash at Southampton Hospital (N.Y),
but dies of a heart attack on 14th February (Valentines Day) 1975.
Buried at Remsenburg Cemetery (Ethel buried with him in 1984).

Peter Schwed - dubbing of 2
Peter Schwed - dubbing of "Sir Pelham" (Click for full size)

Plum and Ethel headstone
Plum and Ethel headstone (Click for full size)

Last and unfinished manuscript published as "Sunset at Blandings",
edited and annotated by Richard Usborne

A memorial stone was dedicated in National Westminster Abbey - Poets Corner, 20th september 2019
(more information)

Memorial Stone in Poets Corner

Main Sources:


Bookmark-documentary about Plum by BBC - 1989 (70 minutes)

"For Mr. Wodehouse there has been no fall of Man; no "aboriginal calamity." His characters have never
tasted the forbidden fruit. They are still in Eden. The gardens of Blandings Castle are that original garden
from which we are all exiled.
... Mr Wodehouse's idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity
that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in."

Evelyn Waugh (1961)

And that is the spirit in which the content of this page aspires to be presented.

Copyright © 2014 - Morten Arnesen (a.k.a Joss Weatherby)

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