What Goes Around Comes Around... By Jeeves, he's a poet | Kings Place

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Cello Unwrapped

Travel to Kings Place

What Goes Around Comes Around... By Jeeves, he's a poet

A new collection of PG Wodehouse’s verse has inspired an evening of poetry and song with Poet in the City. Tony Ring introduces another side to the well-loved humorist.

'few devotees of his Drones, Aunts and Prize Pigs are familiar with his verse'

PG Wodehouse seems to touch each generation afresh with his arch wit, indelible characters and masterful syntax, but few devotees of his Drones, Aunts and Prize Pigs are as familiar with his verse and song lyrics. An event jointly presented by the PG Wodehouse Society and Poet in the City aims to set the record straight with an evening of his verse and song, drawn from his earliest day’s as a diary columnist to his collaboration with composers like Jerome Kern.

Tony Ring, editor of forthcoming anthology of Wodehouse’s verse What Goes Around Comes Around explains how the writer started: ‘While working for HSBC bank he was trying to prove he could make a living as a writer, writing for every possible publication, offering journalistic articles, short stories – and verse. Eventually he joined the The Globe & Messenger as a diary columnist, contributing verses and humorous news paragraphs over an eight-year period, while still having time to write for other daily and monthly journals.

Though a century ago, many targets for his satire seem all-too topical; the problems facing a young royal courting his fiancée out of sight of the paparazzi, another, Ubique, forecasts the rise of the celebrity culture, while Maud refers to an outrageous erotic dancer, who had affairs with high profile figures both male and female, but was banned from dancing in Manchester. Clever word-play and his keen sense of the absurd render them memorable – who else could have come up with these rhymes in the second verse of Napoleon?

He got too fat. We all know that/ From portraits in the galleries.
He never seemed to learn the knack/ Of laying off the calories.
But though his waist was large, he faced/ And overcame all foemen.
He knew quite well it's brains that tell/And not a guy's abdomen. 

Tony Ring, Sophie Ratcliffe (who edited a recent book of Wodehouse’s letters) and Simon Brett will be joined by two well-known actors who will read the poetry, while singer-actress Lucy Tregear (star of By Jeeves! and more recently in the Middlemarch trilogy) will sing with tenor Hal Cazalet, Wodehouse’s great-grandson, who has recorded an album of Wodehouse’s songs ‘The Land where Good Songs Go’.

The  success in the 1920s of his short stories and novels such as The Inimitable Jeeves caused his career as a lyricist to decline - but in 1917 he had had songs in no fewer than five shows running on Broadway. You will be able to hear the original London stage version of the title song of ‘Anything Goes’, and the original version of ‘Bill’, the song that became so famous in Showboat, but which began as a song in Kern’s Oh, Lady! Lady!!

This promises to be an evening of comic treats for Wodehouse fans and novices alike.

Back to PG Wodehouse: Poetry and Songs

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