The author, poet, humorist and antisemite, P.G. Wodehouse, is set to be honoured with a posthumous memorial stone at Westminster Abbey.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that plans have been made to lay a memorial stone in his honour alongside some of Britain’s most respected authors and poets, including Geoffrey Chaucer, C.S. Lewis and Edward Lear.
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G. Wodehouse, died in 1975 aged 93. As well as being a literary genius who has long been considered to be amongst Britain’s greatest authors, he was also an odious antisemite.
His numerous antisemitic comments included a letter to a friend, in which he wrote: “One odd thing about television is the way it shows people up. I always used to think Groucho Marx screamingly funny. I saw him on television the other night, and he was just a middle-aged Jew with no geniality whatever, in fact repulsive.”
In another letter, he told a friend that: “A curious thing about American books these days is that so many of them are Jewish propaganda.”
In yet another letter he wrote: “The trouble is, you see, all these Jews out here have been having a gorgeous time for years, fooling about with the shareholders’ money and giving all their relations fat jobs, and this gives the bankers an excuse for demanding a showdown.”
His antisemitism continued long after the horrors of the Holocaust.
Many have also suggested that Sir Pelham’s activity in Europe under the occupation of Nazi Germany would have been enough to see him tried for treason had he ever dared return to Britain after the Second World War.
Sir Pelham moved to France for tax reasons in 1934. He was taken prisoner at Le Touquet by the invading Germans in 1940 and interned for nearly a year. After his release, he made six broadcasts on German radio which were sent to America which had not yet entered the war. After the war, he went into exile in the United States.
Gyles Brandreth, the former Conservative Party MP and broadcaster told The Daily Telegraph that these apolitical programmes were “undoubtedly damaging to the Allied cause” because they came when Britain was trying to encourage America to join the fight against the Nazis.
He said that Sir Pelham “undoubtedly gave comfort to the enemy during the darkest days of the war. He broadcast gently amusing non-political talks from Berlin, giving the impression that he was fine, and by implication that if he was fine all was fine in Nazi Germany.”
There is nothing wrong with admiring Sir Pelham’s works, but that is very different from admiring their author. It is not for the Church to forgive and forget his lifelong, unrepentant hatred of Jews. This honour should be withdrawn.