Richard Garnett as Gussie giving his speech at Market Snodsbury Grammar School
|First appearance||Right Ho, Jeeves (1934)|
|Last appearance||Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963)|
|Created by||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Portrayed by||Rex Garner|
Richard Braine and others
|Full name||Augustus Fink-Nottle|
|Alias||Alfred Duff Cooper|
Augustus "Gussie" Fink-Nottle is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves novels of comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being a lifelong friend of Jeeves's master Bertie Wooster and a possible member of the Drones Club. He wears horn-rimmed spectacles and studies newts.
A small and shrimp-like young man, Gussie Fink-Nottle (called "Spink-Bottle" by Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia) is one of Bertie's friends. He is described as fish-faced (which jokingly means that he has a small chin). Usually described as wearing horn-rimmed spectacles, he also wears tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles. He went to private school with Bertie Wooster, where they were close enough friends that they shared Bertie's last bar of chocolate. He had not been in London for over five years before meeting Madeline. Generally a teetotaler, he drinks whisky once, and says that it tastes unpleasantly like medicine, burns the throat and leaves one thirsty. His preferred drink is orange juice. Gussie is very shy in his first appearance, though he becomes more confident and assertive over time.
Having first become interested in newts as a child, Gussie became more devoted to studying them through university and afterward, eventually studying newts in a pond at his home in Lincolnshire. Later, he carries newts around in glass tanks. Knowledgeable about newts, he once describes the courtship practices of newts to Bertie Wooster and on one occasion provides a great deal of information on the subject to Madeline Bassett.
It is likely that Gussie is a member of the Drones Club. While Gussie's membership is not stated directly, there are at least three pieces of evidence suggesting he is a member of the Drones: the five people mentioned as attending the dinner celebrating Gussie's engagement to Madeline are all known Drones Club members, Bertie states that Gussie loves cold steak and kidney pie so much that Bertie has known him to order it "even on curry day at the Drones", and it is implied by Wodehouse in a 1937 letter he wrote to The Times that one can find Gussie at the Drones Club.
In Right Ho, Jeeves, Gussie drinks whisky to gather the courage to propose to Madeline Bassett (and also unknowingly drinks orange juice spiked with gin), and while under the influence of the drinks, ends up giving an uninhibited and noteworthy speech at Market Snodsbury Grammar School. In that story, he becomes engaged to Madeline, despite a temporary engagement to Bertie's cousin Angela Travers. His engagement to Madeline is ended and renewed in The Code of the Woosters, in which he also comes into conflict with Roderick Spode.
He is still engaged to Madeline through The Mating Season, though he tried to send her a letter ending their engagement, and he temporarily falls for Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright's sister Corky. Also in The Mating Season, Catsmeat makes Gussie climb into the Trafalgar Square fountain while clothed, and Gussie uses a false name twice. When in court after being arrested for wading in the Trafalgar Square fountain, he uses the alias Alfred Duff Cooper (clearly taken from British politician Alfred Duff Cooper), and he uses Bertie Wooster's name when pretending to be Bertie at Deverill Hall. In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, his engagement with Madeline is ended for good after she tries to make him be a vegetarian, and Gussie elopes with Emerald Stoker, daughter of J. Washburn Stoker.
Gussie appears in:
Gussie is mentioned in:
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.
Gussie goes to the boys' school to present prizes to the pupils (for spelling, drawing, etc.), with the boys' relatives and other members of the community in attendance. He is taking the place of Reverend William Plomer, who is out due to illness. After making some snide remarks to the previous speaker (a man with a beard who mistakenly calls Gussie "Fitz-Wattle"), Gussie, standing with his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, begins to deliver his speech:
"Boys," said Gussie, "I mean ladies and gentlemen and boys, I will not detain you long, but I propose on this occasion to feel compelled to say a few auspicious words. Ladies - boys and ladies and gentlemen - we have all listened with interest to the remarks of our friend here who forgot to shave this morning - I don't know his name, but then he didn't know mine - Fitz-Wattle, I mean, absolutely absurd - which squares things up a bit - and we are all sorry that the Reverend What-ever-he-was-called should be dying of adenoids, but after all, here today, gone tomorrow, and all flesh is as grass, and what not, but that wasn't what I wanted to say. What I wanted to say was this - and I say it confidently - without fear of contradiction - I say, in short, I am happy to be here on this auspicious occasion and I take much pleasure in kindly awarding the prizes, consisting of the handsome books you see laid out on that table. As Shakespeare says, there are sermons in books, stones in the running brooks, or, rather, the other way about, and there you have it in a nutshell."
He continues to address the audience for several pages, amusing some characters and offending others. Gussie makes fun of Bertie's Uncle Tom, and accuses Bertie of having cheated to obtain his Scripture knowledge prize at their private school by sneaking in a list of the kings of Judah, which drives Bertie to leave. Jeeves later says that after Bertie left, Gussie suggested that the winner of the Scripture knowledge prize, young G. G. Simmons, was "well known to the police" and that there was a "guilty liaison" between the headmaster and Simmons's mother. The incident was only concluded when the headmaster instructed the organist to play, and the national anthem was sung.
Gussie's grammar school speech is referenced in Jeeves in the Offing. Bertie recounts that at the grammar school, Gussie "had got pickled to the gills and made an outstanding exhibition of himself, setting up a mark at which all future orators would shoot in vain".