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In this series of letters to William Townend, a fellow-writer and friend since their schooldays at Dulwich College, Wodehouse discusses in some detail his literary outlook, writing methods and constant hunt for new plots. Characteristically modest and lightly humorous in tone, the letters are nevertheless revealing of a dedicated, practical and scrupulous craftsman whose most brilliant inspirations were grounded in decades of unremitting hard work.
The letters are introduced and annotated by the editor, who provided Wodehouse with the idea for one of his most famous characters, Ukridge.
Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (always known as ‘Plum’) wrote about seventy novels and some three hundred short stories over seventy-three years. He is widely recognised as the greatest 20th-century writer of humour in the English language.
Perhaps best known for the escapades of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, Wodehouse also created the world of Blandings Castle, home to Lord Emsworth and his cherished pig, the Empress of Blandings. His stories include gems concerning the irrepressible and disreputable Ukridge; Psmith, the elegant socialist; the ever-so-slightly-unscrupulous Fifth Earl of Ickenham, better known as Uncle Fred; and those related by Mr Mulliner, the charming raconteur of The Angler’s Rest, and the Oldest Member at the Golf Club.
In 1936 he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for ‘having made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the happiness of the world’. He was made a Doctor of Letters by Oxford University in 1939 and in 1975, aged ninety-three, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He died shortly afterwards, on St Valentine’s Day.