A ghastly dynamic exhibit who read Nietzsche and had a laugh like waves breaking on a stern and rockbound coast… P. G. Wodehouse


P. G. Wodehouse was an Edwardian gentleman who gracefully lampooned the English gentry – at those who had always been two drinks below par – for over 70 years.  Remaining in France too long after the German Occupation he found himself interred as a prisoner and made several broadcasts none of which contained any pro-Nazi propaganda. With their usual disregard for the facts the radical elements of the left in England – the third leg of the political stool that Churchill was precariously perched on – screamed for blood and being unable to have him hanged had to satisfy themselves with seeing him disgraced.

England’s loss was America’s gain since after the War he returned to this happy land where he had found success as a song writer working with Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton as well as collaborating with Sigmund Romberg and George and Ira Gershwin. The title of this entry is his description of one of the fiance’s who populate his work and if the man who could pen those lines could have sympathy for either Churchill or Hitler I have yet to find it in a lifetimes joyous reading of his work. This book is worthwhile for Sproat’s history of the incident but it is invaluable as a source of the text of the broadcasts themselves – if every nation was blessed with traitors such as this it would be a much saner world.

p-g-wodehouse

Wodehouse at war: The  extraordinary truth about P. G. Wodehouse’s broadcasts on Nazi radio New  Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1981 Iain  Sproat World War, 1939-1945 Great Britain  Literature and the war, Wodehouse, P. G.  (Pelham Grenville), 1881-1975 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. Clean, tight and  strong binding with clean dust jacket. No  highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In 1941. listeners in Britain and the United States were astonished to hear the voice of P.G. Wodehouse – probably the greatest humorous writer of English literature — coming to them over the Nazi radio from Berlin.

Immediately, Wodehouse was denounced as a traitor. He was accused of having agreed to broadcast Nazi propaganda in order to be let out of one of Hitler’s internment camps, where he had been held since being captured by the advancing German Army at Le Touquet in 1940.

In the House of Commons, Members of Parlia­ment called for his trial on charges of High Treason. The B.B.C. refused to broadcast any of his work. Public libraries refused to have his books on their shelves. By the general public he was vilified as a second Lord Haw-Haw.

In 1944 and 1945, M.I.5. compiled a dossier on Wodehouse’s war-time behaviour. But for over 35 years, under successive Conservative and Labour Governments, this dossier was kept secret. The real truth about what Wodehouse did, and why, was never made public.

Until now.

In 1980, after years of trying, Iain Sproat, the Member of Parliament for South Aberdeen, persuaded the Home Office to let him see the M.I.5. dossier on Wodehouse — the first person allowed lo do so outside official circles. What he read there convinced him that Wodehouse had been the victim of a grave injustice.

Starting from the evidence collected by M.I.5., and the secret British Government memorandums of the time. Mr. Sproat built up a mass of contem­porary documents, private diaries and letters, tapes, personal recollections from those who had known Wodehouse, and confidential memorandums from the archives of the German Foreign Office and the Gestapo.

This book is essential reading for anyone who has ever got pleasure from the works of P.G. Wodehouse. Not only does it prove his innocence after 40 years, but it contains long, hilarious sections of pure, vintage Wodehouse. The full, original text of the five Berlin broad­casts is published here for the first time — and it is among the funniest stuff Wodehouse ever wrote.

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