Wodehouse and the Marginalised Mainstream

I’ve written a guest post for the Marginalised Mainstream blog. This has been set up by the people running a London conference in early November about the sort of mainstream literature (and other entertainment) that tends to miss out on academic analysis. Judging by the provisional conference programme this brief has been interpreted pretty widely;  it should be an eclectic couple of days.

I’m giving a paper there on ‘P. G. Wodehouse and the Business of Writing’ – looking at a group of early Wodehouse stories that explore the lifves of professional writers. These not only draw attention to aspects of the industry that are usually kept out of the public’s notice (like the operations of literary agents), but also explore questions of the ethics of writing, and the temptations and traps of genre writing. Wodehouse consistently champions the professional, who crafts work that will meet the demands of the mainstream commercial market, against the self-indulgent amateur.

My blog post is a short piece on ‘Wodehouse, Critics and Money’ which talks about the difficulties that academics (eager to find the moral high ground) have often had with writers like Wodehouse and Arnold Bennett, who do not disguise the fact that they write for money, and who enjoy the money they make.


  1. Posted September 20, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to hearing your paper! (And to writing mine…)

  2. janevsw
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I shan’t be able to get to the conference, unfortunately, but I’d be really interested to know which Wodehouse titles you’re focusing (focussing?) on.

    • Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m looking at early (pre-1930) work mostly. The novel ‘Something Fresh’, and the stories ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’ and ‘Parted Ways’ (rewritten as ‘Best Seller’)all look at the literary life, and present a model of the honest mainstream craftsman (often in contrast to the arty or merely gushing writer.

      • janevsw
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. I shall investigate!

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