1 May 2017 Susannah

Year of Literary Heroes

Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in 1865

2017 has been named the ‘Year of Literary Heroes‘ and British Tourism is encouraging literary-themed events. You can enjoy a ‘Literary Break’, download literary maps and take walks through literary landscapes, go to talks, bookshop events, and stay in hotels that have associations with authors.

Even if you are not planning a visit to England, it’s still a good time to give thought to ‘literary heroes’. What makes a ‘hero’? A hero is a “main character in a book or film” and someone who “usually manages impressive feats or displays nobility of character”. Thackeray famously described his own Vanity Fair as ‘a novel without a hero’ because none of the men in the novel could qualify for that role.

Who are your favourite literary heroes? Mr Darcy, Mr Rochester, Mr Knightley, Captain Wentworth, Gilbert Blythe, Harry Potter, John Thornton, David Copperfield, Tom Jones, Rhett Butler, Pierre Bezukhov, Laurie Laurence, Plantaganet Palliser, Dr Lydgate, Roland Michell, Flashman, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Just William, Daniel Deronda, Kim, Prince Myshkin or …?

To get you thinking about heroes, I’m giving you a short quiz this month. Have fun.

Mr. Darcy by C. E. Brock, 1895

Mr. Darcy by C. E. Brock, 1895

1. Which hero was christened Lemuel?
2. Which hero kisses the heroine in a field outside Florence?
3. Which hero dies on the road “with a bunch of lace at his throat”?
4. Which hero eats a gorgonzola sandwich and drinks a glass of burgundy for lunch?
5. Which hero falls in love with Becky Thatcher?
6. Which hero fears he might have gone to bed with his own mother?
7. Which eponymous hero is eaten alive?
8. Gussie Fink-Nottle is a good friend to which unheroic hero?
9. Which hero was delivered into the world by Dr Slop?
10. Which hero longs to attend Christminster University?

Literary Heroes – Answers

Let me know if you have a literary hero whom you love above all others? How many questions were you able to answer in my quiz? Tell me by leaving a comment area below.


Leave a comment.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until approved.


Featured image credit- Ludwig and Malwine Schnorr von Carolsfeld in the title roles of the original production of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in 1865. By Joseph Albert. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3718453
Body image credit- Mr. Darcy by C. E. Brock, 1895. Scans from the book at Pemberley.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9405089

Comments (2)

  1. Margaret Debenham

    Only 6 out of10 – shameful. I’m having trouble thinking of a leading male literary protagonist who could truly be called heroic – is Mr Darcy’s saving Lydia from her foolishness heroic? Not sure. Is Robin Hood a hero of literature or folklore? Shakespeare’s Henry V? Males in my favourite books other than P & P – Will Ladislaw no, Vronsky definitely no, Gabriel Oak – a good man, but…heroic? And so it goes. Literary heroines, on the other hand……or is “hero” intended to cover both genders?

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It is interesting, isn’t it, to think about what makes a hero heroic. Perhaps our favourite heroes are not that heroic, because they are human and make mistakes. I intended hero to cover only males in novel – will save heroines for some other time. I love Dr Lydgate in ‘Middlemarch’ but he is very faulty, so cannot be described as heroic either. And I agree with you about Vronsky – one critic called him ‘a stallion in uniform’ which was unkind, but he is swept up into Anna’s passion and out of normal life, and he just wants normality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *