Saturday, October 15, 2011

Happy Birthday PG Wodehouse, author and dog lover


"It is fatal to let any dog know that he is funny, for he immediately loses his head and starts hamming it up."
-P.G. Wodehouse

Today is the birthday of master humorist PG Wodehouse, creator of  Jeeves and Wooster, and author of 96 novels and short stories (he was working on number 97 when he died on Valentines Day in 1975 at the age of 93.   In addition to being arguable the funniest author ever Wodehouse was an animal lover, and particularly fond of dogs.
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 In fact it was Wodehouse's devotion to his dogs that got him into a lot of trouble during WWII.  Always completely uninterested in politics and world affairs, Wodehouse was oblivious to the tension mounting in Europe in the years prior to the war.  He was living in France in 1939 and decided to stay when the war broke out rather then returning to England.  The primary reason for this decision was that he couldn't bear to leave his dog behind, and he couldn't take him out of the country due to quarantine laws.   When the Germany military occupied France Wodehouse spent some time in Internment camps.  After he was released he made several broadcasts on German Radio of humorous stories.   This greatly angered the English and he was accused of collaborating with the Nazis and of treason, many English libraries banned in his books.   While his actions may have been foolish (though probably innocently so) you can't help but admire his loyalty to his dog.


After the controversy Wodehouse moved to America and continued to have a very successful literary career.  He and his wife lived in  Remsenberg New York in the Hampton's surrounded by dogs.  They were particularly moved by the plight of stray animals in the area. It was common for families to come to the Hampton's for the summer and acquire a dog for companionship on their vacation only to abandon it at the end of the season.  Usually not generous with his money, Wodehouse and his wife donated 20,000 dollars to Flora D'Auby Jenkins Kibbe to expand her Bide-A-Wee Human Association from a crowded building in Manhattan plagued by neighbors frequent complaints of barking, to a more spacious setting in the Hampton's.


Wodehouse's love for animals had a strong impact on his work and some of his most famous animal stories are collected in a A Wodehouse Bestiary

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I re-read the book in honor of his birthday and it is as funny as I remembered.  Perhaps every story included is not his absolute best, but my two favorite Jeeves and Bertie stories are included Jeeves and The Impending Doom and Jeeves and the Old School Chum.   All in all we give the book a four paws up  rating, or 31 paws up rating if we count every paw in the house (remember Ernie the cat has only 3 legs).

Dr. Zira and Ping enjoyed posing with the book and one of my tea pots: Tea for Two!  (Two bad we had to our urban deck as our background and not an English manor house).




If you don't feel up to reading there is also a hilarious Jeeves and Wooster TV show available from Netflix.  While neither Jeeves and The Impending Doom or Jeeves and The Old School Chum make the episode list there are many funny episodes and lots of them involve dogs.  My favorite is Jeeves The Matchmaker  which features an adorable Irish Wolfhound named Patrick.  Here is a clip below, watch for a while and you get to see Patrick ruin Bertie's ill advised marriage proposal.

7 comments:

  1. Cool pictures of the author.
    Benny & Lily

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  2. i love that quote about not letting them know they are funny. oops, guess it's too late for my dogs, they know i think they are hilarious!

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  3. You've got to love a bit of Stephen Fry (Jeeves)!!

    =^..^=

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  4. I think that kid eats more than me!

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  5. Oh, that's an interesting story about Wodehouse and WWII, I had no idea! I can certainly appreciate his loyalty to his dog, I've often wondered what I would do in a state of emergency as I couldn't bear the thought of leaving my pets behind.

    Absolutely LOVE the pics of Dr. Zira and Ping posing, so cute!!! :)

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  6. I did not know P.G. Wodehouse but sounds like he really loved his dog. It'll be impossible for me to leave my kitties behind, either.

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  7. My dad LOVES Plum! He's my dad's favorite author. That was an interesting anecdote about his love of dogs.

    Toodle Pip!
    -Sid

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