The Real Jeeves by the Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph’s cricket reporter Brian Halford tells the story of former Warwickshire player Percy Jeeves, a brilliant all-rounder who appeared destined to play for his country but instead died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
Brian traces Percy’s life from idyllic childhood via a highly promising county cricket career into the nightmare of war.
He uses a series of excerpts from battalion diaries to detail the horrors of the Western Front, and ultimately his demise on the Somme.
Yet Percy Jeeves’ name lived on thanks to English playwright and author PG Wodehouse, who saw him play at Cheltenham in 1913 and was so impressed he noted the name for a character who shared the modest Yorkshireman’s immaculate conduct and appearance.
“I’ve always had a big interest in cricket and the First World War,” said Brian
“Percy was an exceptional talent and the PG Wodehouse angle just adds to the intrigue. It has been very pleasing how well it has been received as people have really engaged with the story.”
While the characters Jeeves and Wooster went on to provide much entertainment in the world of fiction, Brian’s book has drawn praise from critics including the Daily Telegraph which described it as ‘memorable’, while the Yorkshire Post describe it as ‘wonderful’ and ‘poignant’.
“One of the main things I wanted to get across was that as well as being a great cricketer and soldier, he was also an incredibly nice guy so I wanted to do him justice,” added.
The MCC Book of the Year long-list will be reduced to a short-list in January.