Favourite literary heroes

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).

  • Richard Sharpe — Sharpe by Bernard Cornwall
  • Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy — Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Mr Mark Darcy — Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  • Mr Rochester — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Rupert Campbell Black — Rutshire Chronicles by Jilly Cooper
  • Rhett Butler — Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Heathcliff — Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Captain Corelli — Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
  • Henry DeTamble — The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Gabriel Oak — Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

    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.

  • 4 thoughts on “Favourite literary heroes

    1. Erlender is certainly a worthy modern hero of crime fiction. However, I agree with you about his diet. Erlendur’s tastes in food underscores the reality that you will not find Icelandic cuisine restaurants anywhere in the world beyond the shorelines of Iceland. I’ve been there (for nearly two years at one time), and would have perished if I relied only on Icelandic fare. If you do not like seafood or mutton (and lamb)–sometimes prepared and served in the most grotesque ways imaginable–you ought to travel someplace else.

    2. None of those appeal to me — I think I’d have to spoil the ballot paper!
      And now you’ve got me thinking about who I would choose. Not sure at the moment . . . But I do rather like Erlendur as well.

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