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P.G. Wodehouse: A Biography

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  13 reviews
There are not many characters in literature more famous or cherished than Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. They feature in nearly 100 tomes, which taken together, make their creator, Sir Pelham Greville Wodehouse, among the most eminent and best-loved writers of comedy in the English language. But what of the man himself? Frances Donaldson, who first met Wodehouse in 1921, was g ...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Carlton Publishing Group (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Emily
Mar 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed reading P.G. Wodehouse in the last few years so I thought getting to know him might be fun. I'm so glad I did because this book really humanized him, highlighted his humor, and addressed his faults with grace. The next time I pick up a Jeeves or Psmith book I think I will enjoy it even more now that I've learned so much about the man behind the characters. ...more
Spiros
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Wodehouse completists only
Shelves: bins, comicgenius
This is a very odd bit of Wodehouseana, written by a friend of Wodehouse's adopted daughter, Leonora. Mrs. Donaldson confesses not to have come around to reading Plum's output with any sense of enjoyment until her seventies: this she attributes to the "fact" that Wodehouse's humor is not suited to the feminine temperment. This is not the only example of her questionable critical judgment, but it is rather startling, and certainly begs the question whether women grow less feminine with age. Like ...more
Lizzy
Aug 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Hideously outdated, and probably not great even in 1982. I know the author was a personal acquaintance, but she is an entirely inappropriate biographer. Wodehouse is a favorite, so I'll be trying the 2004 biography next. Glad I only paid 50 cents for this book. ...more
Richard Subber
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I happened on this 1982 review of a biography of P. G. Wodehouse, and I can't resist believing the reviewer is a hatefully well-bred person.

Prof. Samuel Hynes very incautiously permits himself to label old P. G. as " . . . the greatest trivial novelist in literary history . . ."

Egad.

Is he talking about Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975), the remarkably gabby genius who created Bertie Wooster and Jeeves?

Is he talking about the guy who makes us love the incurably erratic Wooster? who makes
...more
Jenny
Apr 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Requested this one from the library in preparation for teaching one of Wodehouse's novels. It had to come up from a university library in Oregon, so it didn't quite make it in time to be useful. After my last Wodehouse biography/literary criticism, I was hoping for something that stuck a bit more closely to the man rather than his fiction. And while it certainly did a better job at that than the previous book I read, it seems that biographers seem to have a hard time separating the author from h ...more
Kim Symes
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
A disappointingly dull account of the life of one of my favourite writers. There is very little in this biography on Wodehouse's early life and motivations, beyond the bare bones that you could pick up on Wikipedia. More than half of the book is taken up with the few short months that Wodehouse spent in a German prison camp during the war, and the subsequent broadcasts he made about his experiences there. While this episode would have to be covered in any biography, one chapter would be more bal ...more
Caroline
I found this to be a very interesting, even-handed biography. Of course, it was first published in 1982 and felt to be to be a little old-fashioned. Sometimes, it's kind of stuffy and scholarly. At other times, it is also very personal, as the author had personally known her subject (being a friend of his daughter's). Kind of a weird mixture, but it mostly works. (I have to admit that I did skip a lot of the "literary analysis.")

The best part were the quotations from his own letters and diaries,
...more
Morgan
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This is a rather fascinating biography for several reasons. From the introduction on, the reader is slightly confused at the authors' apparent dislike of much of P.G. Wodehouse's works and abjectly outdated views on gender roles and tastes... Much more interesting and relevant is the section on Wodehouse's internment during WWII, his subsequent release, and the international backlash which may have contributed to his low-key place in the English canon. The author's personal relationship is apt t ...more
Michael
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, wodehouse
Fantastic!

"He was not a saintly man because he could not love the human race. But he had many of the qualities of a saint. Kind, modest and simple, he was without malice or aggression. He gave happiness to others as few people are privileged to do, and he was happy himself."

The "interlude," between chapter 7 and 8 is worth far more than the price of admission. A shooting star amid an epic spectacle.
...more
Frederick
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is the best biography of P. G. Wodehouse. Frances Donaldson does not mistake Wodehouse for a satirist. She doesn't mind the fact that he is a light humorist. It's why she likes him. This is a thorough life story, but it is not one of those clinical analyses, such have been done about another humorist, James Thurber, several times.



...more
Kate
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
The author evidently knew the family but still produced a balanced and detached picture of an enigmatic man.
A fascinating read, not only into the character of Wodehouse himself but also a view of the times.
Eric
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frederick Davidson's narration made it worth the listen even if the material had been miserable, which it definitely was not. A lifetime of writing seems to go by all too quickly, no matter what one may have thought of his POW status. ...more
Douglas Wilson
Feb 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, wodehouse
Very good.
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The daughter of the playwright Frederick Lonsdale, Frances Donaldson was a biographer of several modern literary and artistic figures.

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