Quotations from P G Wodehouse are copyright of, and reprinted by permission of, the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate © 2017 The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)

The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)

In Sweden we are some members of the Swedish Wodehouse Society (founded 1984) that are in great gratitude to Norman Murphy. When searching interesting information about circumstances and background to the stories and novels of PG Wodehouse for articles we publish within our society Norman was of great value. Always when we needed an extra information about something we couldn’t find we knew we could always turn our problems and questions to Norman. And in a couple of days we got all information we needed about practically everything. When in 2008 I was writing a biography of Vilgot Hammarling, the famous translator of Wodehouse’s novels and stories who started Wodehouse’s great popularity in Sweden, I knew that he had been living in England many years as correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in the 1920s and later became councellor of the Swedish embassy 1938-1958. From his experiences of the clubs in London he could easily find the right words when translating Wodehouse. I asked Norman if he could dig up some information about Vilgot in English sources, e.g. at Somerset House, and Norman spent half a day searching for information about Vilgot and his family in England. Vilgot, married to Beatrix Potter, died in 1962 in Hertfordshire. Norman was able to help me with what became of him and his family afterwards. And he delivered information with personal comments and advised me how to go on with other questions. I wonder if there was anything at all he couldn’t give an interesting answer about Wodehouse, his life and work. He dedicated his own books to me when ordering them by himself, a treasure to have. – Bengt Malmberg


The P G Wodehouse Society's founder chairman was an inspiration to anyone and everyone who met him. I first met him when I made a DVD of the Golds Bats v Sherlockians Cricket Match under Bob Miller at West Wycombe, when Norman and Murray Hedgecock, the two umpires for the day, did a double act summary of the match to camera afterwards – no rehearsal, impromptu dialogue just bouncing off each other in a hilarious conclusion to a very exciting match. It was some years later, soon after he published his “Three Wodehouse Walks” during my time as the Society's Treasurer, that Norman announced he would not be continuing his London Wodehouse Walks. I suggested that I carried my cameras round to record for posterity the fascinating content and highly individual style of delivery that all who had been on his walks grew to know and love. His wife, Elin, carried another camera and between us we filled about four hours of tape from Green Park to Northumberland Avenue, and Norman and I repeated the walk the following morning for me to get close-ups and repeats of the previous day's unsatisfactory takes – there was a large group and the walkers could not be asked to “go back and do that bit again”. It took me another four years to edit and find the right style of presentation to edit over five hours of film down to two – I sometimes think that Norman felt it would never happen – but after several draft masters and amendments, the team felt we had hit on a final version that almost satisfied each one of us and we very happily compromised on the detail. And it's that word “team” remains my abiding memory of the whole process. Norman had an ability to listen, assess and make decisions which took account of everyone's point of view – by no means always agreed with, but after listening to his reasoning one always knew his decision of acceptance or rejection was the right one, expressed with characteristic succinctness but always with dignity and courtesy. Norman was obviously and very definitely in charge of the whole project, but that harnessing of teamwork is my lasting memory of a man whose contribution to whatever he involved himself in was total, and enormous. On completion of “A London Wodehouse Walk”, we discussed making DVDs of his other two Wodehouse Walks but the age of my equipment probably wouldn't have stood up to it, and Norman, now into his eighties, decided with Elin that he probably wouldn't have either, so sadly it never came to fruition – but we still have his books and the one DVD, and all of us who met him have many wonderful memories of a remarkable man. – Andrew Chapman


Summer 2001, I travelled to London to participate in Norman's Wodehouse/London Walk. I was the only person who turned up so I was treated to a solo tour, which only cost me a large gin & tonic at its ending. Norman's enthusiasm was contagious and his energy put mine to shame. The tour only paused so that he could light his pipe, or when he saw a tourist looking lost, he stopped to help them and impart his vast knowledge of the Capital. It made for a most entertaining couple of hours and one I will remember always. We had a brief correspondence after the walk, and I once received a wonderful postcard from him with a picture of The Empress of Blandings on it. He was a wonderful man and shall be sorely missed. I hope I can be indulged, on this sad occasion, to bring up a lighter note regarding Norman. On the day of the Walk referenced above, whilst we were at the meeting point waiting to see if anyone else would turn up, we were approached by a couple of American ladies, one of whom told us that she travelled the world with her friends because her husband did not want to travel. She then informed us that it was her practice to approach men in the various countries she visited and get her photo with them in the hopes of making her husband jealous with the number of men she met on her travels. We obliged this unusual request, but it does amuse me that there is a picture somewhere of an elegant American lady, a distinguishedly dressed Norman Murphy and me in my scruffy shirt, jeans and sneakers. – Paul Tubb


The best thing any of us can do with a store of knowledge is to share it, and no-one embodied this enlightened principle more perfectly than Norman, whose generosity – and curiosity – seemingly knew no bounds. We'll all miss his sense of mischief, the way he relished an intellectual tussle, his pipe, hat, gait and vocal delivery; no-one could have dreamed up a more appropriate Founding Chairman for the Society. Deepest condolences to Elin, and Norman's wider family. – Paul Kent


I wish I had known NTP Murphy. – Noel Bushnell


Inimitable, irrepressible, inspirational, irreplaceable; unforgettable. – Nick Townend


Like many people, I first encountered the name NTP Murphy through one of his many books on the subject of PG Wodehouse. Years later, I was fortunate enough to meet Norman in person on one of his famed Wodehouse walks. Norman was incredibly generous with his time and extensive Wodehouse knowledge – no question was too small or too silly for him to answer. More recently, my daughter Geraldine and I have had the great privilege of getting to know Norman and his wife Elin better. Geraldine and Norman hit it off particularly well – they spent many happy hours together over the summer exploring Norman's vast collection of treasures. Norman taught her how to salute and stand to attention, how to handle various antique weapons, and even shoot an air rifle (the highlight of her summer). Although Norman was famously difficult to understand when talking at speed, with Geraldine there was a complete understanding that was wonderful to observe. We were terribly saddened by his passing and will always treasure our memories of time spent with him. – Jen Scheppers


It was a Friday evening in 1995 at my first convention in Boston when I walked into the Copley Plaza lobby to find a small, interestingly dressed man teaching a young woman a dance step. I immediately decided to find out who this character was and did so later that evening. It was Norman and he was fascinating and continued to fascinate me for the next 21 years. Even more delightful was the union of our New England Wodehouse Thingummy Society (NEWTS) driving force, one Elin Woodger, to this most interesting gent some 15 or 16 years ago. Norman's personality and fame will live on but, sadly, the Wodehouse Walks are over. God bless him and comfort Elin and all those who will miss the Man Who Knew Almost Everything (about PGW). – Wendell Verrill


I will always remember Norman for the kind, open and enthusiastic way he welcomed me to my first Wodehouse Society meeting. When I attend the Toronto meeting of the U.S. Wodehouse Society I knew no other member and felt rather reticent as I approached the registration desk. But Norman was assisting with the process, and he welcomed me warmly and immediately started asking my about myself. When he learned I lived in Wyoming, he pointed out that I was fortunate to share that relatively rare status with Kid Brady. While I never came to know Norman well, I always admired his infectious enthusiasm, and I'll never forget how he helped make me feel accepted into a group that I've come to enjoy so much. – Timothy Kearley (aka Kid Brady)


As Plum said, “In a series of events, all of which had been a bit thick, this, in his opinion, achieved the maximum of thickness”. One bright feature of Wodehouse conventions has been the brilliant scholars that have attended, especially from the UK, such as Tony Ring and Norman Murphy. Norman's loss has been felt around the world. Our hearts go out to Elin and his family. I would hope that the humour that is at the core of Wodehouseans will sustain them and us as we carry on without him. Norman and Elin exemplified another Wodehouse quote: “There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature”. May the spirit of Plum and Norman bring light in the darkness. – John Phipps


I only had the joy of knowing Norman for a decade or so but he was an intense experience and it seems much longer. Wodehouse Walks in London, tours with the PG Wodehouse Society in the UK, TWS conventions in the US, his candid and valuable comments on my own writing (for which he is not responsible), and all his books and the many articles in Wooster Sauce and Plum Lines. What joy! What erudition! What did he say? I think my favorite Norman moment was at the end of a private Wodehouse Walk when he invited me into his club for a drink. Our spouses were not admitted so it was literally a quick one. But the private Norman is the public Norman; a gentleman, a scholar, a raconteur, and a Wodehousean to the back teeth. Rest in Peace, sir, Rest in Peace. – Ken Clevenger


It was in 1996 that I was browsing in a used book store in Tacoma, Washington. On the shelf was a book called In Search of Blandings by NTP Murphy. I bought the book. Two years later, I was a student in Syracuse University's Master of Social Science Program. I enrolled in the school's London residency. I took the book with me and bought a London A-to-Z map. With the aid of Norman's book and the map, I visited as many of the locations as I could. At the time, I did not know about either the US or UK Wodehouse Societies. When I finally joined, I met Norman at the 2001 TWS convention in Philadelphia. I told him my story of his book and my map. He listened politely and when I was finished he said, "If you had looked me up in the phone book and called, I would have taken you on a walk. Next time you're in London, call me." There wasn't a next time, but with In Search of Blandings, Norman gave me a great Wodehouse tour. – Major Thomas L. R. Smith, Ph. D., USA (Retired)


Though I did not know TMWKE as well as most of you, I feel I knew him well enough to offer this remembrance and tribute: he certainly knew a great deal (and quite possibly the above-referenced Everything) about every aspect – every detail – of the experiences and writing of PG Wodehouse; but what I think I admire most of all was his feel for Plum's writing. It was pitch perfect, as reflected in his own writing. In Search of Blandings is my personal favorite, but in all his writing Norman managed a light touch and turn of phrase for which most authors – indeed most all of us – may search but never manage to find. – Fondly and respectfully, Dick Heymann


I recorded in my travel diary my first meeting with the inimitable Norman Murphy on July 8, 2007 at the reception for the Week With Wodehouse. What a trip that was – with Norman guiding us over the streets of London, into the hallowed sanctum of the National Liberal Club, and over the grounds of Weston Park (with Tad Boehmer reading us the description of the Blandings' grounds as we walked), among so many other delights. I can still see him in my mind's eye holding forth about the tree where Gally Threepwood's hammock was attached, describing the Wodehouse Aunts at Cheney Court, and leading the group in a rousing rendition of "Burlington Bertie" at the final dinner. I also tasted my first syllabub at his recommendation on that trip. Some lines from Julius Caesar kept reverberating in my mind after I heard of Norman's passing. I think the Swan of Avon could have had Norman in mind (had he but known him), when he wrote: 'His life was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, "This was a man".' We will never see his like again. Requiesce en pace, noble Norman, thank you for enriching our lives. My deepest condolences to Elin and his family. – Karen Shotting


Quick! Make it snappy! Norman never said this to we visiting Americans back in the summer of 2013. I'm afraid I said it to myself! How could anyone keep up with the indomitable spirit that was Norman? Not only did Nelson and I enjoy the attentive and welcoming company of both Elin and Norman at one of the riveting Wodehouse Society meetings there in London, but we were also treated to his very last, by all accounts, 'Wodehouse Walk'. It was the highlight of our visit and an honor. He will be terribly missed. Heartfelt condolences to his loved ones from 'across the pond'. – Robin Darby-Bridwell and Nelson Bridwell


Norman was the first PG Wodehouse Society member I met. My friend Anne and myself were shyly approaching our first Society meeting at the The Savage Club, wondering whether we were in the right place and whether we dare go into the room, when Norman came bounding out and swept us inside on a wave of friendly enthusiasm. That evening Norman gave his now legendary talk on Plum's sources for hog calling, with accompanying examples erupting from a small portable cassette player. Anne and I will never forget it. Later, on a Wodehouse Walk, we observed Norman in Trafalgar Square breaking away from the group, marching up to a Police Offer and bustling him over to the spot where a plaque marking the geographical centre of London had been removed during pavement upgrade. Norman made the Officer promise to ensure the plaque was put back in exactly the correct place. We will miss Norman and we will try to follow his example by displaying kindness, good manners and ensuring that small but very important things are not overlooked. – Christine Hewitt, Membership Secretary, The PG Wodehouse Society (UK)


On behalf of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, I write to express our sadness on the news of the passing of Norman Murphy. The cricket match between our Society and the PG Wodehouse Society is one of the highlights of the summer season and we very much enjoy the camaraderie, which is an essential part of that clash of the Titans and to which Norman contributed greatly. – Elaine McCafferty, Chairman, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London


Norman will be fondly remembered by so many, have a place in their hearts and their memories, and his illuminating books and the DVD of his Wodehouse Walk is a strong legacy which will have a safe and important place in so many shelves and collections. – Morten Arnesen, blandings.no


My one and only Wodehouse walk with Norman was in 2009. There was a rather large crowd that evening and many people were standing well back as though it was a regular walking tour. They had no idea that if they did not stand less than a foot from the great man, they would not only miss most of his rapid-fire commentary, but would be quickly left behind as he strode from site to site at speed. I was practically running myself and at one point he looked down at me and barked, "Make them keep up!" I did my best and we probably only lost a few by the time we made it to the Wodehouse UK meeting at the end of our walk and everyone on the tour was invited in. I can't believe he's gone. Sui generis to be sure. – Barbara Combs


The four "A Week With Wodehouse" tours that Norman Murphy led were more of his amazing accomplishments bringing great pleasure to Wodehouseans. I was lucky enough to go on the 2000 "In Search of Blandings" tour and the 2012 Norfolk tour, and got to see the fruits of Norman's detective work first-hand. To visit the sites of Blandings Castle, Brinkley Court, Market Snodsbury Grammar School, and homes where Wodehouse had stayed with various aunts, uncles, and friends and drawn inspiration therefrom – sheer joy. Norman's enthusiasm was a huge part of the tours' success, of course – he could even make a coach-ful of assorted international tourists turn up on time every morning. Partly because we weren't entirely sure he didn't mean it when he said he would leave us behind; but mostly because it seemed such a small return for the huge gift he was making us. The talented gentleman driving the coach in July 2000 would look more puzzled each morning because (I think) there had been no litter left spread about the coach from the previous day. A lot of us were Americans, so this just didn't add up. We may have been a fairly courteous bunch to start with, but the real factor was that we were so happy we couldn't bear to stop spreading sweetness & light even in the small things, so we stuffed our trash in our pockets and threw it away outside the coach. It was also a pleasure to get to hear Norman for extended periods of time, on the tours or at conventions, since my ear would start to adjust to his rapid-fire delivery and I could then appreciate his wit. If Norman took up Wodehouse scholarship to combat the impending threat of nuclear annihilation in his daily work, well – the Wodehouse world was definitely the gainer from the Cold War. I miss him greatly, but I am thankful for all the circumstances and people (not least of whom being Elin Woodger) that contributed to Norman's remarkable work and our wonderful memories of him. – Amy Plofker, Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA


My wife and I were very sorry to learn of Col. Murphy's death. One of the treasured volumes on our crowded bookshelves is the original edition of One Man's London, which he signed for us some five or six years ago. It had taken us years to find a copy, as the book was then, absurdly, long out of print. The search was worthwhile, though. One Man's London is among the very best, and best-written, guides for those of us who respond to the allure of the Metropolis. At that time Col. Murphy was looking forward to the publication of a revised edition, and indeed One Man's London: Twenty Years On was published in 2012 by Popgood & Groolley. It is now out of print, and scarcer and more expensive than the original – which is very sad. – Roger Johnson, Editor: The Sherlock Holmes Journal, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London [ps It's a rare pleasure to report that I was mistaken! Mrs Murphy informs me that One Man's London: Twenty Years On is by no means out of print. The book is available via Amazon (click here) in both paperback and Kindle formats. Mrs Murphy adds: "Popgood & Groolley are Norman and me, and the book will remain in print as long as I'm alive and can instruct our printer to produce them." Excellent!]


It was on May 18, 1973 – yes, 1973 – that I met a lively, youthful soldier-in-civvies at a Wodehouse seminar in Surrey. This was at Moor Park College outside Farnham, when 40 or so enthusiasts, long pre-dating formation of The PG Wodehouse Society (UK), gathered to mull over and enjoy the works of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. I recorded the event in my newspaper, The Australian, noting that among the gathering was “the voluble Major 'Spud' Murphy, a supply officer from Whitehall, whose hours of studying London history led him to his great theory; the tales of Wodehouse's Drones club were based on real life”. “Spud” (the “Norman” does not appear to have impacted at that stage) expanded on his discoveries, and we were rightly impressed. The Major and I travelled back to Waterloo together, when he enlivened the journey with anecdotes and references to matters of London history seen en route. I was not to know how much more I would learn years later of Wodehouse, and of London, from the Major (soon to be Lieutenant-Colonel), when his books, his walks, and his vital role in the new Wodehouse society provided a proper platform from which he could enlighten us about the world of PGW. We are much the losers for the passing of this lovable character, but we are much the winners for all that he shared with us – his learning, and his generous, breezy, unique personality. Thank, you, Spud, for so much. – Murray Hedgcock


What a great loss to us all of a charming and, without doubt, the greatest expert on Wodehouse that the world has ever known. I met Norman on 19th February 2013 at my first meeting of the Wodehouse Society. Being a newcomer I was invited to share a table with with him, together with his lovely wife Elin, and he made me feel most welcome. I feel honoured to have met him and my thoughts are with Elin on this sad occasion. Norman you will never be forgotten. – Laurence Ogram


It is with great sadness that I and other members of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London have heard of Norman's death. I only met him a few times – at the cricket field at West Wycombe, where our two Societies have battled most amiably since 2001 – and it was invariably a delight. A splendid and most erudite gentleman. – Nick Utechin, Hon. Member, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London


As a Wodehouse translator, his help was always immense. And how he was essential in constructing Jeeves Manga! And how Bun, the cartoonist and editors and a lot of readers loved him!! I had enjoyed a big pleasure of letting Japanese readers know how being a P.G. Wodehouse reader is wonderful. I could speak from my direct experiences, knowing Norman, this miraculous, always funny, lovely person with big heart and gigantic brain in person. Japanese Wodehouse readers are deeply saddened and mourning. And my family are also grieving for Norman, he was always so nice and kind to us. – Tamaki Morimura


The Dutch P.G. Wodehouse Society had the pleasure to meet Norman on several occasions, he was one of our honorary members. In 2009 when our Society visited England, he was our guide in his famous Wodehouse Walk through Mayfair and we ended up in The Coal Hole just like Ukridge (in “The Debut of Battling Billson”). Last Saturday, at our regular Wodehouse meeting in Amsterdam, our members were still talking about this happening with the greatest admiration. His books will stay an everlasting inspiration for us all, Wodehouseans and other scholars in the PGW community. – Peter Nieuwenhuizen, president of the P.G. Wodehouse Society (NL)


We are all so deeply saddened by the loss of Norman. He was every bit as extraordinary as many of Wodehouse's best characters. I recall being led on a Wodehouse Walk by him; suddently, the heavens opened and we were drenched. Such was Norman's charm and leadership that, when sheltering in an anonymous doorway of what turned out to be the headquarters of a hotel group, Norman somehow contrived to have our seriously bedraggled and unkempt looking group drip our way into the splendid hallway where the charming staff brought us refreshments until the rain abated. His knowledge was a source of constant astonishment. So often, during PG Wodehouse Society Quiz evenings, entire teams of Wodehouse fans would be beaten by Norman, operating single-handedly to answer the most taxing conundrums. He was, as the great writer may have said, 'always in mid-season form'. Farewell Norman: it was an honour to have known you. My thoughts are with lovely Elin, his widow. – Jo Jacobius


Elaine and I were talking to Norman at the 1995 Boston Convention of the US Wodehouse Society, and he recalled an encounter he had while walking on Boston Common earlier in the day. He was looking closely at the suspension bridge (erected 1867) and addressed a couple of passers-by as though they were old friends: “Do you know if this bridge is a copy of a similar bridge in London?” Naturally, a conversation ensued and eventually names were exchanged. Norman responded to their announcement by telling them that his name was “Murphy, Norman TP Murphy”. Immediately the man responded “Not the NTP Murphy?” It transpired that they had a copy of the original One Man's London and always carried it with them on trips to London. – Tony Ring


I never met Norman, but I feel as if I know him. Karen has spoken so warmly of him. I've read his books. I've always imagined that some day I would head over to England and meet him, toss a few bread rolls and enjoy the warmth of his humour and his kind (and kindred) spirit. – Bill Graff


I have so many fond memories of Norman. My daughter and I took a Wodehouse Walk with Norman when we were in London several years ago. He was truly very kind to both of us, explaining many things to her since she isn't a Wodehousean. He will be greatly missed. – Shana Singerman


I had the pleasure of meeting Norman at the Chicago convention; what a lovely man. – Nobby


This is truly heart-breaking news. The unique irreplaceable Norman. I cannot find the words to express what I feel. – Susan Cohen


Norman's passing is an enormous loss to the PGW community, multiplied many times for his friends and family. Though Norman and I never met we had several email exchanges on matters plummy and his erudition, wit and congeniality were always evident in abundance. His memory will live on through his published works and the memory of so many who had contact with him. – Christian Kelly


Extremely saddened to hear the news. A great Wodehouse scholar is no more. – Sudheer Tambe


I just perused my bookcase – I have 12 books that Norman wrote or co-wrote, plus a DVD. He was one of a kind and simply a pleasure. The moments we spent with him in Chicago in 2013 are cherished memories. – David McGrann


Norman's knowledge was unmatched in the world of Wodehouse. A true gentleman to the core. May his soul rest in peace. – Prem Rao


He certainly was one-of-a-kind. It was an honour, a privilege, to have met and known someone like him. I have never, and will never, forget the Wodehouse Tour. The Wodehouse world is poorer with his passing, but what an amazing legacy he has left behind for all of us – and the Wodehouse readers in the future. – Ranjita Ashok


The world has lost one of a kind, and our Wodehouse world a much loved gentleman and scholar. – Anita Avery


Our hearts are broken. We were so lucky to know and love Norman, but were still hoping for more time with him. – Tina and John Woelke


Having had the great good fortune of meeting Norman on various occasions, I feel his loss keenly. I will always remember him with the greatest admiration, affection and gratitude. – Sushmita Sen Gupta


A great loss, first and foremost for you and the family, but also for all of us Wodehouseans. Wodehouse brought joy to countless people, and Norman enhanced that joy. I am grateful for having known him. – Vikas Sonak


Wodehouse brought joy to countless people, and Norman enhanced that joy. There is perhaps no greater tribute we Wodehouseans can pay to Norman. I am grateful for having known him. We'll cherish his memory and all the fine work he has done for a long, long time. – Frits Smulders


I never met Norman but, even in the brief email conversations I had with him, the passion that he had for Wodehouse was a joy to behold. I will cherish the DVD I have of Norman's "walk" and watch it with even more admiration but also with a great deal of sadness. – Phil Haigh


Really, really a very sad moment for all of us. A great scholar has left us. RIP, Norman. – Harshawardhan Nimkhedkar

Norman Murphy Book of Remembrance

Norman Murphy, the Society’s founder Chairman and later its Remembrancer, died on 18th October 2016, after a short illness.


An author of many definitive works on Wodehouse (for details click here), Norman was also an expert on London history, and the social history of the Wodehouse age. He created Wodehouse Walks around London, visiting the locations that he had discovered PGW used in his stories and novels, albeit carefully renamed by the author. These walks were as memorable for his high-speed vocal delivery and cracking walking pace as for their fascinating content; over the years, thousands of Wodehouse enthusiasts from all over the world will have treasured their memories of the inimitable Colonel Murphy’s famous London Walks.


The Remembrances below were submitted by users of this website, and we trust that they capture for you the essence of the inimitable Norman Murphy. The world of Wodehouse will forever feel the loss of an engaging, erudite, interested and always entertaining man who gave more to the world than he took.


For an account of a Society evening of understandably mixed emotions on February 15th 2017 when friends and members met to exchange their fondest memories of our Founding Chairman, click here.


Please feel free to email any more stories at any time to remember@pgwodehousesociety.org.uk.