The Book Depository blog has provided the shortlist for a competition being run by Mills & Boon and the Times Cheltenham Literary festival to identify "the nation's favourite literary hero" (yuk!). Despite hating the idea of the "nation's" favourite anything, I'm quite intrigued by the concept of a favourite literary hero. Of the ones in the list provided, I would, probably obviously, choose the perfect Mr Darcy (Jane Austen's of course). I haven't read the Sharpe novels, nor the books by Jilly Cooper or Audrey Niffenegger on this list. Of the rest, I'd eliminate Heathcliff as not heroic, Oak as boring, Butler as superficial and Rochester as misogynistic (despite his rehabilitation as portrayed by Toby Stephens in the recent TV adaptation, in the book he was not so nice).
Before the UK's obsession with Mr Darcy and the other Mr Darcy, Guy Perron from The Raj Quartet (a.k.a. Charles Dance) had considerable mass appeal. One of my own favourite literary heroes when I was in my 20s was Mr Knightley (Jane Austen's Emma). (As an aside, why is he always played by someone too young in recent – and upcoming – dramatisations?) I also rather liked Edwin Clayhanger and Doc (Cannery Row). Before that, I adored characters like Robin Hood, Achilles and Sherlock Holmes, who probably would not have been all that nice to know in reality. A sort of modern-day equivalent of these impulsive, rebellious types is the rather appealing Sirius Black (J K Rowling), but look what happened to him. Of course nowadays I suppose I am too old to have literary heroes, and I also don't read "literature" (or Jilly Cooper!). But I do rather like Erlendur (Arnaldur Indridason) because he likes to spend his "spare" time quietly reading a book. (I'd have to draw a veil over some of the local specialities he eats.)
If you want to vote on the shortlist above, here is where to go. You don't get my options, I'm afraid. Nor any Dickens, Eliott, Tolstoy, et al.