Comic novelist P.G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves the butler, is born on this day in Surrey, England.
Wodehouse attended Dulwich College in London, then went to work as a humor columnist for the London Globe. He also worked as a freelance writer. After 1909, he spent extended periods of time in the United States and in France. He wrote numerous stories, and in 1915 published “Extricating Young Gussie,” the first story featuring kindhearted but dim Bertie Wooster and his “gentleman’s gentleman,” Jeeves. In numerous stories and novels, Jeeves condescends to extract Bertie from countless mishaps. The first collection of Jeeves stories, My Man Jeeves, was published in 1919, followed by The Inimitable Jeeves (1923) and Very Good, Jeeves (1930). A novel, Thank You, Jeeves, came out in 1934, followed by another, The Code of the Woosters (1938).
In 1940, Wodehouse was living in France when the Germans invaded. He was captured and spent most of the war imprisoned in Berlin. In 1941, he made five radio broadcasts to the United States, comically describing his dilemma as a prisoner. Because he used enemy radio equipment for his broadcasts, Wodehouse was unwelcome in Britain after the war. He moved to the United States, where he worked on plays and musicals with various musicians including George Gershwin. He also worked on screenplays. Wodehouse was knighted in 1975 and died later that year. All told, he wrote more than 300 stories, 90 books, 30 plays or musicals, and 20 film scripts.