Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Paul Jennings (UK author)
Paul Francis Jennings (June 20, 1918 - December 26, 1989) was a British humourist. He mostly wrote short articles; his most famous collection is "The Jenguin Pennings", published in 1963 by Penguin books (hence the Spoonerism of the title).
Although he wrote a small number of books for children, Jennings should not be confused with his prolific (and still-living) namesake, an Australian children's writer.
Jennings began his career whilst still serving in the Royal Signals during the Second World War; his first publication was "Moses was a Sanitary Officer" in the April 1943 edition of Lilliput magazine; freelance work for Punch and The Spectator soon followed. Leaving the army with the rank of Lieutenant, he briefly worked as a scriptwriter for the Central Office of Information and then spent two years as an advertising copywriter; throughout this period his freelance work continued to be published.
In 1949 he joined the staff of The Observer, contributing a weekly column entitled "Oddly Enough" until 1966. After leaving The Observer, he continued to write until his death, mainly seeing print in Punch, The Times and the Telegraph magazine.
In general his articles take the form of whimsical ponderings. Some are based in real life incidents, often involving his friend Harblow; for instance, one of his most celebrated pieces, "How to Spiel Halma" (1949), concerns their attempts to establish the rules of halma from the instructions in a German set using their extremely limited knowledge of the language:
- The obvious meaning of this was that the Against-man must naturally again after that treat, this Stone how possibly in the own House of the Player to shut in.
Sometimes his pieces would be poems, or written in novel forms of language, such as the Romance-eschewing Anglish, or that of a toy 19-letter pipewipen (typewriter). Others articles were extended flights of fancy, such as "The Unthinkable Carrier" (1960), based on the idea of cutting Britain free of the Earth's crust so that it could float around the oceans and guarantee world peace, with the Isle of Wight kept in place by a tow chain. Several of his pieces touched on the invented philosophical movement of Resistentialism.
Oddly Enough collections
- Oddly Enough (Reinhardt and Evans, 1950)
- Even Oddlier (Reinhardt, 1952)
- Oddly Bodlikins (Reinhardt, 1953)
- Next to Oddliness (Reinhardt, 1955)
- Model Oddlies (Reinhardt, 1956)
- Gladly Oddly (Reinhardt, 1958)
- Idly Oddly (Reinhardt, 1959)
- I said Oddly, Diddle I? (Reinhardt, 1961)
- Oddly of Oddlies (Reinhardt, 1963)
- Oddly Ad Lib (Reinhardt, 1965)
- Golden Oddlies (Methuen, 1983)
- The Jenguin Pennings (Penguin, 1963)
- I Was Joking, Of Course (Reinhardt, 1968)
- Just a Few Lines (Guinness, 1969)
- It's an Odd Thing, But ... (Bodley Head, 1971)
- I Must Have Imagined It (M Joseph, 1977)
- The Paul Jennings Reader (Bloomsbury, 1990) (posthumous)
Books on British Life
- The Living Village (Hodder and Stoughton, 1968)
- Britain as she is Visit (M Joseph, 1976)
- Companion to Britain (Cassell, 1981)
- East Anglia (Gordon Fraser, 1986)
- The Hopping Basket (Macdonald, 1965)
- The Great Jelly of London (Faber and Faber, 1967)
- The Train to Yesterday (Harrap, 1974)
- The English Difference (Aurelia Enterprises, 1974) (co-edited with John Gorham)
- The Book of Nonsense (Macdonald, 1977)
- A Feast of Days (Macdonald, 1982)
- My Favourite Railway Stories (Lutterworth Press, 1982)
- Paul Jennings, "Thurber", Punch, March 1965, collected in The Paul Jennings Reader
- James Thurber, "The moribundant life, or, grow old along with whom?", The New Yorker, collected in Alarms and Diversions, Penguin, 1957
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