Augustus "Gussie" Fink-Nottle ('Spink-Bottle' to Bertie's Aunt Dahlia) is a fictional character in the Jeeves novels of British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being a lifelong friend of Jeeves's master Bertie Wooster and a possible member of the Drones Club. Described as "a teetotal bachelor with a face like a fish", he wears horn-rimmed spectacles and is a noted newt fancier.
Gussie Fink-Nottle met Bertie Wooster at Malvern House Preparatory School, where they were schoolmates; growing up, he took up residence in a remote part of Lincolnshire to pursue his beloved newt studies. When, in Right Ho, Jeeves, he first sees Madeline Bassett, he falls in love with her; too shy to tell her he convinces Bertie to break the news for him. Madeline misunderstands Bertie, thinking that he loves her and is trying to tell her indirectly and when later in the book, she becomes engaged to Gussie, she promises to marry Bertie if ever Gussie leaves her. Consequently, Bertie spends a great deal of time keeping Gussie engaged to Madeline.
A threat to their engagement is the presence of Roderick Spode, a friend of Madeline's father Sir Watkyn Bassett. Having loved her in silence for years but convinced of his unsuitability for her, Spode is nonetheless anxious to protect her from heartbreak or wrongdoing by any of her fiancés and eager to beat to a pulp any man who does not treat her properly. Gussie feels Spode's wrath on several occasions. Gussie never actually marries Madeline, instead eloping with the daughter of an American millionaire, Emerald Stoker (who was working as a cook at the Bassett mansion).
The scene in Right Ho, Jeeves in which Gussie, thoroughly inebriated due to Jeeves and later Bertie Wooster lacing his orange juice with gin, as well as his massive drink of whisky, gives a speech at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School is often cited as among the finest vignettes of English comic literature. The diatribe goes on for several pages and concludes with Gussie hinting darkly at illicit relations between the Headmaster of the Market Snodsbury Grammar School and the mother of the recipient of the prize he is awarding. He had previously hinted that the individual concerned was also well known to the police, much to the discomfort of Bertie Wooster and the amusement of Jeeves. The incident was only concluded by the intervention of the choir singing the National Anthem. Bertie later recalls the event in Jeeves in the Offing, remembering it as "an outstanding exhibition... setting up a mark at which all future orators would shoot in vain."
Max Hastings likened the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson to Gussie, saying "he developed the persona which has become famous today, a façade resembling that of PG Wodehouse's Gussie Finknottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability." Significantly, the late Auberon Waugh made the same comparison about Johnson's predecessor Ken Livingstone, on the ground that Livingstone is also a newt collector.
Gussie is featured in:
- Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) – a Jeeves novel
- The Code of the Woosters (1938) – a Jeeves novel
- The Mating Season (1949) – a Jeeves novel
- Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) – a Jeeves novel
Gussie is mentioned in:
- Jeeves in the Offing (1960) – a Jeeves novel (chap. IX)
- Film and TV actors
- In the 1990-1993 ITV series Jeeves and Wooster:
- James Kall in the 2001 film/TV recording of the musical By Jeeves
- Sources consulted
- Reggie (16 March 2007). "Wodehouse Who's Who: Augustus Fink-Nottle". Blandings, a Companion to the Works of P. G. Wodehouse. Archived from the original on 21 September 2007.
- Usborne, Richard (2003). Plum Sauce: A P. G. Wodehouse Companion. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 1-58567-441-9.
- Hastings, Max (30 March 2008). "Boris the buffoon is dead. Stand by for Boris the mayor". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- Hutchinson, Kyle. "Wodehouse Characters: Gussie Fink-Nottle". The P. G. Wodehouse Story Index [database]. (last updated 11 May 2006)