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 strongly dislikes, and has great contempt for, Bertie Wooster (the firth-person narrator and protagonist of the Jeeves novels), whom Bassett believes to be a half-wit, a wastrel, and a kleptomaniac.

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.