I’m reading P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters, edited by Sophie Ratcliffe and although I am enjoying it, it’s also a somewhat painful experience. I’m still in the 1920s and Wodehouse’s success is phenomenal. As a person whose picture you see when you look up “unsuccessful author” in the dictionary, it’s a bit hard to read Wodehouse’s letter to his friend Bill Townend (who by Wodehouse standards is also an unsuccessful author): “I then sat down to finish Leave it to Psmith for the Saturday Evening Post. I wrote 40,000 words in three weeks.” And later: “The good old Satevepost have done me proud. Although they never commission anything, they liked the first 60,000 words of my serial so much that they announced it in the papers before I sent in the remainder. I mailed them the last part on a Wednesday and got a cheque for $18,0000 (my record) on the following Tuesday!!!”
I think it’s that triple exclamation mark that gets to me and I’m sure it left Townend, a good friend who often depended on Wodehouse’s largesse, in agony. He owed much to Wodehouse, but still it must have left him writhing.
On the other hand, I know what’s coming for Wodehouse. I’ll post a full review when I’m done, but it is a large book.