PG Wodehouse's former home, Mayfair

 

Here I am outside the former home of novelist PG Wodehouse. Itís in a posh street in Mayfair (arenít they all posh in Mayfair?) This sunny, prolific, consistent, bald word-machine wrote 90 novels, forty plays and two hundred short stories. The most famous were the Jeeves and Wooster novels.

 

Pelham Grenville - or "Plum" as his family called him - lived here for 6-7 years at the height of his dizzying success. He became a full time writer at just 20 years old after working in a bank. He lived here with his wife Ethel and stepdaughter Leonora and eleven servants. He penned ten novels her in undisturbed silence in his bedroom. My second favourite novel is probably Right Ho, Jeeves and he wrote it here. The family sold and left the place when they emigrated to France. He mustnít have known then heíd later be classed as a leper by the British authorities.

 

While living in France Plum was captured by the invading Germans and was interned for nearly a year before he was taken to Berlin. From there he naively made a series of broadcasts to American audiences which led to him being falsely labelled a traitor and Nazi propagandist. Punishment : permanent exile from Britain and he never returned despite his well-loved novels. Just before his death at 93 he was awarded a knighthood. Official forgiveness can come only from royalty and the Queen Mother revealed the blue plaque on the wall in 1988 having read most of his novels. Perhaps if he hadn't missed England so much he might not have written so manically about the very English Jeeves, Psmith and Ukridge. He submerged into his fictional Edens spending hour months and decades in these innocent fictional worlds, gaining a cult following that still exists today.

 

While walking down the side of Hyde Park in Mayfair I thought I'd go and have a quick look at number 17. I touched the doorknob thinking the mega-popular novelist must have touched it (the servants can't have done everything.) If you were a big fan you could have bought a two-bedroom flat in 2015 for £2.25 million and owned part of Plumís home. In the photos here you can see the lounge - this was Plum's bedroom where the novels were written. The current kitchen was a large linen cupboard.

 

The flat - along with the lower floors - was bought in 2008 by wealthy fashion designer Alexander McQueen who was going to join the flats. It never happened. At the time he lived on the next street but hanged himself in his wardrobe the day before his mumís funeral.

 

I had a stroll up and down Dunraven Street but the tall terraces let in little sunlight. I looked for number 14 but could not find it. Plumís most famous character was the butler Jeeves and itís thought the inspiration came from a valet called FranÁois Courvoisier who worked at number 14 in the 1800s. He was so frustrated with this hopeless boss that he murdered him.

 

Oh well, time to go as I had a long tick list to conquer. These Mayfair homes are handsome but the outward views arenít - you look into the windows of your neighbours across the road. I did a salute to the blue plaque and left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His grave in New York...