196: Birthday of Author P.G. Wodehouse

The cover of the American first edition of P.G. Wodehouse's "My Man Jeeves." (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
The cover of the American first edition of P.G. Wodehouse’s “My Man Jeeves.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is the birthday of English author P.G. Wodehouse, the creator of the character “Jeeves” the quintessential English butler, who actually wasn’t a butler at all.

Here are some things you may not have known about Wodehouse, Jeeves and the difference between a butler and a valet or — more properly pronounced — valet (with a pronounced “T”).

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was born in Guildford, Surrey in 1881. During an unfulfilling career in banking, he turned to writing for magazines and newspapers, eventually earning enough to quit his job at the bank. He traveled to New York in 1904, an experience that increased his standing as a writer in London.

In 1915 he published his first story featuring the characters of the amiable, but dim, Bertie Wooster and his valet, or gentleman’s gentleman, Reginald Jeeves. Jeeves serves Wooster and not a household, so he is not a butler, though he is capable of serving in such a capacity when necessary. Wooster noted, “if the call comes, he can buttle with the best of them.”

Jeeves appears in 35 short stories and 11 novels by Wodehouse. Wooster appears in all of them with the exception of one novel. Jeeves has been portrayed on screen by Arthur Treacher, Dennis Price and Stephen Fry, among others. Wooster has been played by David Niven, Ian Carmichael and Hugh Laurie.

Wodehouse moved to France in the 1930s for tax purposes and was held by the Germans during World War II. While in Berlin, he made five broadcasts about his experiences as a prisoner, which were regarded as an act of treason in Britain. In 1946, he and his wife moved to New York, eventually settling in Southampton, Long Island, where he wrote 20 novels over the next 25 years. He became a U.S. citizen in 1955. He was knighted in January 1975, which was seen as forgiveness for his wartime indiscretion. He died less than two months later at the age of 93.

Our question, what is the first and last name of Bruce Wayne’s valet in “Batman”?

Today is Global Handwashing Day and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In the United States, it is unofficially National Cheese Curd Day, National Cake Decorating Day and National Grouch Day. It’s the birthday of the author of “The Godfather” Mario Puzo, actress-director Penny Marshall and chef Emeril Legasse.


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