“Success comes to a writer as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed.” – P. G. Wodehouse
Born on this date in 1881, Wodehouse was one of the most widely read and quoted humorists of the 20th century. The son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong, Wodehouse studied business and worked in banking for a time before realizing that what he enjoyed most was writing. “I know I was already writing stories when I was 5,” he said. “I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed I suppose.”
A prolific writer throughout his life, he authored more than 90 books, 40 plays, and 200 short stories and other writings right up until his death in 1975.
While most of Wodehouse's fiction is set in England (he is credited with creating the stereotypical English butler character Jeeves), he spent much of his life in the U.S. and used New York and Hollywood as settings for some of his novels and short stories. He also wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies during and after WWI – together with Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern – that played an important part in the development of modern American musicals and musical comedy.
Since Wodehouse's death there have been numerous adaptations and dramatizations of his work on television, and the Oxford English Dictionary contains over 1,750 quotations from Wodehouse, illustrating terms from crispish to zippiness.
“Everything in life that’s any fun,” Wodehouse wrote shortly before his death, “is either immoral, illegal … or fattening.”
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