His portraits of the famous are sometimes terrific. H. G. Wells, at a lunch, “sat looking like a crushed rabbit.” Wodehouse groaned at the enormous fireplace in Wells’s house, with letters carved around it that spelled: “TWO LOVERS BUILT THIS HOUSE.” He later, mockingly, put a similar fireplace in one of his Wooster novels.
Wodehouse was a deep admirer of Orwell, who wrote an essay in his defense after the radio debacle. But Orwell wasn’t his type. After Orwell’s death Wodehouse wrote: “He struck me as one of those warped birds who have never recovered from an unhappy childhood and a miserable school life.”
He could be very dense about politics. As late as 1939 he suggested that “the world has never been farther away from a war than it is at present.” He did not like change. About Cambridge University he said in 1962: “I think they’re all wrong making the standards so high.” He thought admissions should be based on “charm of manner.”
In the 1950s and ’60s the literary world began to baffle him. After reading Norman Mailer’s novel “The Naked and the Dead” (1949) he wrote: “Isn’t it incredible that you can print in a book nowadays stuff which when we were young was found only on the walls of public lavatories.”