Watkyn Bassett

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Sir Watkyn Bassett CBE is a recurring fictional character in the stories of English comic writer P. G. Wodehouse.

Bassett is the father of Madeline Bassett, whose mistaken belief that Bertie Wooster wishes to marry her is the basis of a major sub-plot in several stories.[1] He is also the uncle and guardian of Stephanie "Stiffy" Byng.[1]

Early in The Code of the Woosters, Bertie Wooster recalls that, only a few months before, he had appeared in the Bosher Street police court, charged with stealing a policeman's helmet on Boat Race Night, and was fined £5 by Bassett, who was then a magistrate. A few weeks after that event, so Wooster recalls, Bassett inherited a fortune from an unnamed relative, retired from the bench, and bought Totleigh Towers, where he took up residence.[2] Wooster expresses his opinion that Bassett acquired his fortune by pocketing the fines he imposed as a magistrate.

Bassett is a noted collector of antique silver, his collection rivalling that of Wooster's uncle, Tom Travers: both men "will stop at nothing" to add to their collection.[3] The main plot of The Code of the Woosters centres on the rivalry between Bassett and Travers, and their desire each to acquire a particular antique cow creamer.

Bassett is a close friend of Roderick Spode, who is an almost constant presence at Totleigh Towers. In The Code of the Woosters (1938), Bassett is said to be engaged to Spode's aunt, a Mrs Wintergreen, "widow of Colonel H H Wintergreen, of Pont Street”, but when Bassett re-appears in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963), he is still unmarried.

Television adaptation[edit]

In the television series Jeeves and Wooster, Bassett is played by John Woodnutt and, in a deviation from the original stories, is said to be the uncle of Florence Craye.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Garrison, Daniel H (1989). Who's Who in Wodehouse (2nd ed.). New York: International Polygonics. ISBN 1-55882-054-X. 
  2. ^ Caesar, Adrian (1991). Dividing lines: poetry, class, and ideology in the 1930s. Manchester University Press. pp. 17–18. ISBN 0-7190-3375-6. 
  3. ^ Vessey, D W T (1986). "Transience Preserved: Style and Theme in Statius' "Silvae"". Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (Berlin: de Gruyter) (Band II 32.5): 2754–2802. ISBN 978-3-11-011095-1.