Village History

P.G. Wodehouse

Sir P.G Wodehouse (1881-1975)


Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was born in Guilford, Surrey on October 15th 1881 and died on Valentine's Day 1975 in Long Island, U.S.A.

As a novelist he is best known for his creation of the young bachelor Bertie Wooster and his effortlessly superior manservant Jeeves. Two characters that were given new life and vigour by the television adaptation of his stories and their portrayal by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

Having been educated in Dulwich College, he worked for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank for two years before becoming a freelance writer and marrying in 1914. A prolific writer, he produced in excess of 100 novels, as well as many short stories, sketches, librettos, and lyrics for the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin.

During the Second World War, he was captured and interned in Germany, and in 1941 made five radio broadcasts from there to America. These broadcasts evoked deep and lasting resentment in Britain and whilst their content was largely humorous, he was branded a traitor.

Eventually, his name was cleared and he moved to America and became a US citizen in 1955. He was knighted in 1975, just weeks before his death at the age of 93.

Wodehouse and Shipton Bellinger

Wodehouse imortalised the Village, through the creation of a character called The Rt. Hon. Reginald Alexander Montacute James Bramfylde Tregemis Shipton-Bellinger, who was the 5th Earl of Brangbolton. Whilst Shipton-Bellinger  never attained the popularity that many other Wodehouse creations did, he appeared in a story called 'The Smile that Wins', part of a collection of short stories called 'Mulliner Nights', written in the early Thirties.

In the story Shipton-Bellinger and his daughter, Millicent Shipton-Bellinger, live at 18A Upper Brook Street, London, his daughter being the subject of the attentions of Adrian Mulliner, whose name gives rise to the title of the book.

Whilst there is no evidence that Wodehouse ever lived in, or even often visited, the Village, he frequently used real place names in his stories. The most famous examples of this being a cottage named 'Threepwood' in the Hampshire village of Emsworth (between Havant and Chichester), which itself  gave its' name to one of Wodehouse's more famous characters Lord Emsworth. Further examples of his use of local names can be seen in the 5th Earl of Brangbolton's christian name. Montacute is a small village, coincidentally just off the A303, to the west of Yeovil in Somerset.

(Picture courtesy of BBC Online)

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Page Last Updated: 21st September 2005