Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (KBE) —- (15/10/1881 — 14/02/1975) was an English humourist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics and magazine articles.
His writing style is notable for its unique blend of contemporary London clubroom slang with elegant classically-informed drawing room English. Much of the charm of the characters like Bertie Wooster, in the Jeeves-Wooster novels derives from the light-hearted cheeriness and bonhomie that word conveys through a particular effective choice of language. While Wooster is often described, by acquaintances, as mentally negligible, the reader, more often, sees him as the hapless victim of circumstances. Wodehouse’s use of language was outlandish.
His characters, however, were not always popular with the establishment, notably the foppish foolishness of Wooster. Wodehouse’s characters are often eccentric with peculiar attachments such as to pigs (Lord Emsworth), newts (Gussie Fink-Nottle), antique silver (Wooster’s uncle —- Tom Travers), golf collectibles (numerous characters) or socks (Archibald Mulliner).
Relatives, especially aunts and uncles, are commonly depicted with an exaggerated power to help or impede marriage or financial prospects or simply to make life miserable. Children, of both genders, are, invariably troublesome and annoying and, frequently, malicious. Friends are, often, more a trouble than a comfort in Wodehouse’s stories. Policemen and Magistrates are, typically, portrayed as threatening, yet easy to fool, often, through the simple expedient of giving a false name. Wodehouse’s servants are, frequently, far cleverer than their masters.
Many stories involve a strong-willed, independent, middle-aged (or older) female trouble-maker like his Aunt Agatha and Lord Emsworth’s many sisters. Animals, of many types, play a major role in his works and are the unifying force in A Wodehouse Bestiary, published in 1985. Wodehouse lived with a dog on his lap at most times and usually lived with several Pekes. Dogs, often referred to as ‘dumb chums’, especially Pekingese, feature prominently in short stories and novels.