While reading the letters of P.G.Wodehouse, one searches for his characteristic wit and humour which brought the omnipresent butler Jeeves and his wealthy employer Bertie Wooster to life. And Sir Wodehouse doesn’t disappoint. In his letter to Arthur Conan Doyle, he starts off by addressing him as Comrade and then comes the humour. Short, intimate, makes you smile or laugh-out-loud – the author’s correspondence tells the story of who he was as an individual.
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse aka P.G.Wodehouse lived in a time when telegrams and letters ruled. So everything from his feelings on love to inspirations for his characters to his appreciation for fellow writers to his description of a married life finds a mention in his letters.Wodehouse wrote about tumultuous times too. When he was imprisoned by the Nazis in Berlin and had to send telegrams asking for money to England. His letters reveal his plight (although not quite bad, as he usually found a way to remain jovial) under Hitler’s regime. You will read how he played cricket in the internment camp. You will sense the anxiety in his voice, when he was termed a traitor by his countrymen. How he had to stay away despite War being over.
One of my favourite parts is his correspondence with Leonara, his step-daughter. The love and endearment for her can be felt in each sentence. His descriptions tell us about the writing life in the 20th century and the history of his time. Like Prohibition and how he would manage to get his alcohol.
Sophie Ratcliffe has edited the letters and grouped them together. So the readers get a cohesive and structured view of the relationships Wodehouse had with his close people. As biographies go, this one is undiminished by any bias as it is Wodehouse’s life in letters.
If you have read ‘A Life in Letters : P.G.Wodehouse’ you will also like ‘The Authors XI – A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon’