Madeline Bassett

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Madeline Bassett
Jeeves character
First appearanceRight Ho, Jeeves (1934)
Last appearanceMuch Obliged, Jeeves (1971)
Created byP. G. Wodehouse
Portrayed byBridget Armstrong
Francesca Folan
Elizabeth Morton and others
FamilySir Watkyn Bassett (father)
RelativesStephanie "Stiffy" Byng (cousin)

Madeline Bassett is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves stories by English comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being a sentimental and fanciful young woman to whom Bertie Wooster periodically finds himself reluctantly engaged.

Life and character[edit]

The daughter of Sir Watkyn Bassett and the cousin of Stephanie "Stiffy" Byng, Madeline has golden hair as well as a treacly voice and a tinkling, silvery laugh,[1] and when she sighs, it sounds "like the wind going out of a rubber duck".[2] Bertie Wooster describes her in Right Ho, Jeeves as "a pretty enough girl in a droopy, blonde, saucer-eyed way, but not the sort of breath-taker that takes the breath",[3] though elsewhere he describes her as "physically in the pin-up class".[4] However, he also notes that she is excessively mushy and fanciful, regularly espousing whimsical beliefs about gnomes and stars. She plays piano and is apt to sing folk songs, especially when she is trying to cheer herself up.[5] She enjoys reading Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, and the works of Rosie M. Banks.[6] Inspired by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to become a vegetarian, she nonetheless has no knowledge of cooking.[7]

In Right Ho, Jeeves, she meets and befriends Angela Travers, and also meets Angela's cousin Bertie Wooster, on a trip to Cannes, during which she mistakenly believes that he is in love with her and is gazing at her with long, dumb, searching looks. When he tries to tell her subtly that "someone" (Gussie Fink-Nottle) has feelings for her, Madeline mistakenly believes Bertie is talking about himself.[8] To his great relief, she turns him down, as she is in love with Gussie; however she assures Bertie that, if ever her engagement to Gussie were to fail, Bertie is the first person she would look to as a replacement fiancé. Since Bertie's personal code does not allow him to insult her by correcting her misunderstanding or rejecting her offer, he is thereafter under threat of having to marry her if she rejects her first choice.

She becomes engaged (and disengaged) frequently in the novels, having idealistic standards that sometimes her fiancé cannot live up to. At different times, she becomes engaged to Bertie and Gussie in Right Ho, Jeeves, and to Bertie and then back to Gussie in The Code of the Woosters. Her engagement to Gussie holds during The Mating Season, in which she visits an old friend of hers, Hilda Gudgeon, with whom she was educated at Roedean.

Later, Gussie elopes with Emerald Stoker, and Madeline becomes engaged variously to Bertie and Roderick Spode (Lord Sidcup) in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, and again to Bertie and then back to Spode in Much Obliged, Jeeves. Ultimately, she is engaged to Spode, and appears to be on her way to becoming the next Countess of Sidcup.[9]



Madeline is distinctive for her maudlin and fanciful statements,[10] illustrated by the following examples.

Direct speech:

  • "'Every time a fairy sheds a tear, a wee bit star is born in the Milky Way.'"[11]
  • "'When I was a child, I used to think that rabbits were gnomes, and that if I held my breath and stayed quite still, I should see the fairy queen.'"[11]
  • "'Beautiful smiling flowers, all wet with the morning dew. How happy flowers seem, Hilda.'"[12]
  • "'One morning we had walked in the meadows and the grass was all covered with little wreaths of mist, and I said Didn't he sometimes feel that they were the elves' bridal veils...'"[13]
  • "'And that evening we were watching the sunset, and I said sunsets always made me think of the Blessed Damozel leaning out from the gold bar of heaven...'"[13]
  • "'Today I danced on the lawn before breakfast, and then I went round the garden saying good morning to the flowers.'"[14]
  • "'I think I shall always be a fragrant memory, always something deep in your heart that will be with you like a gentle, tender ghost as you watch the sunset on summer evenings while the little birds sing their off-to-bed songs in the shrubbery.'"[15]

Attributed speech:

  • "'She holds the view that the stars are God's daisy chain, that rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen, and that every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born...'" – Said by Bertie Wooster about Madeline[16]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Garrison (1991), p. 10.
  2. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1934], Right Ho, Jeeves, chapter 10, p. 112.
  3. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1934], Right Ho, Jeeves, chapter 1, p. 19.
  4. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1971], Much Obliged Jeeves, chapter 1, p. 9.
  5. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1963], Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, chapter 22, p. 186.
  6. ^ Cawthorne (2013), p. 203.
  7. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1963], Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, chapter 20, p. 171.
  8. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1934], Right Ho, Jeeves, chapter 10, p. 114.
  9. ^ Ring & Jaggard (1999), p. 22.
  10. ^ Ring & Jaggard (1999), p. 159.
  11. ^ a b Wodehouse (2008) [1934], Right Ho, Jeeves, chapter 10, p. 111.
  12. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1949], The Mating Season, chapter 16, p. 160.
  13. ^ a b Wodehouse (2008) [1963], The Feudal Spirit, chapter 12, p. 105.
  14. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1971], Much Obliged Jeeves, chapter 7, p. 67.
  15. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1971], Much Obliged Jeeves, chapter 7, p. 68.
  16. ^ Wodehouse (2008) [1963], Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, chapter 2, p. 19.
  17. ^ "Jeeves and Wooster Series 1, Episode 4". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Jeeves and Wooster Series 2, Episode 1". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Jeeves and Wooster Series 3, Episode 4". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Jeeves and Wooster Series 4, Episode 5". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  21. ^ Taves, Brian (2006). P. G. Wodehouse and Hollywood: Screenwriting, Satires and Adaptations. McFarland & Company. p. 199. ISBN 978-0786422883.
  22. ^ "What Ho, Jeeves!: 14: Getting Gussie Going". BBC Genome Project. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  23. ^ "Classic Serial: The Code of The Woosters". BBC Genome Project. Retrieved 15 January 2018.