100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900

100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900

In 2002, Book Magazine compiled a panel of 55 authors, literary agents, editors, and actors and ranked the top one hundred characters in literature since 1900.

  • Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
  • Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951
  • Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
  • Leopold Bloom, Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922
  • Rabbit Angstrom, Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960
  • Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1902
  • Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
  • Molly Bloom, Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922
  • Stephen Dedalus, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, 1916
  • Lily Bart, The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton, 1905
  • Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, 1958
  • Gregor Samsa, The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, 1915
  • The Invisible Man, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952
  • Lolita, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
  • Aureliano Buendia, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1967
  • Clarissa Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, 1925
  • Ignatius Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980
  • George Smiley, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John LeCarre, 1974
  • Mrs. Ramsay, To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf, 1927
  • Bigger Thomas, Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940
  • Nick Adams, In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway, 1925
  • Yossarian, Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961
  • Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell, 1936
  • Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
  • Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, 1939
  • Kurtz, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1902
  • Stevens, The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989
  • Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo, The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino,1957
  • Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne, 1926
  • Oskar Matzerath, The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass, 1959
  • Hazel Motes, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor, 1952
  • Alex Portnoy, Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth, 1969
  • Binx Bolling, The Moviegoer, Walker Percy, 1961
  • Sebastian Flyte, Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh, 1945
  • Jeeves, My Man Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse, 1919
  • Eugene Henderson, Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow, 1959
  • Marcel, Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust, 1913–1927
  • Toad, The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, 1908
  • The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss, 1955
  • Peter Pan, The Little White Bird, J. M. Barrie, 1902
  • Augustus McCrae, Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry, 1985
  • Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett, 1930
  • Judge Holden, Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy, 1985
  • Willie Stark, All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren, 1946
  • Stephen Maturin, Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian, 1969
  • The Little Prince, The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1943
  • Santiago, The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, 1952
  • Jean Brodie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961
  • The Whiskey Priest, The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene, 1940
  • Neddy Merrill, The Swimmer, John Cheever, 1964
  • Sula Peace, Sula, Toni Morrison, 1973
  • Meursault, The Stranger, Albert Camus, 1942
  • Jake Barnes, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, 1926
  • Phoebe Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, 1951
  • Janie Crawford, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston,1937
  • Antonia Shimerda, My Antonia, Willa Cather, 1918
  • Grendel, Grendel, John Gardner, 1971
  • Gulley Jimson, The Horse’s Mouth, Joyce Cary, 1944
  • Big Brother, 1984, George Orwell, 1949
  • Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith, 1955
  • Seymour Glass, Nine Stories, J. D. Salinger, 1953
  • Dean Moriarty, On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957
  • Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White, 1952
  • T. S. Garp, The World According to Garp, John Irving, 1978
  • Nick and Nora Charles, The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett, 1934
  • James Bond, Casino Royale, Ian Fleming, 1953
  • Mr. Bridge, Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell, 1959
  • Geoffrey Firmin, Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry, 1947
  • Benjy, The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, 1929
  • Charles Kinbote, Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov, 1962
  • Mary Katherine Blackwood, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson, 1962
  • Charles Ryder, Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh, 1945
  • Claudine, Claudine at School, Colette, 1900
  • Florentino Ariza, Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1985
  • George Follansbee Babbitt, Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis, 1922
  • Christopher Tietjens, Parade’s End, Ford Madox Ford, 1924–28
  • Frankie Addams, The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers, 1946
  • The Dog of Tears, Blindness, Jose Saramago, 1995
  • Tarzan, Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1914
  • Nathan Zuckerman, My Life As a Man, Philip Roth, 1979
  • Arthur “Boo” Radley, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
  • Henry Chinaski, Post Office, Charles Bukowski, 1971
  • Joseph K., The Trial, Franz Kafka, 1925
  • Yuri Zhivago, Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, 1957
  • Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling, 1998
  • Hana, The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje, 1992
  • Margaret Schlegel, Howards End, E. M. Forster, 1910
  • Jim Dixon, Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis, 1954
  • Maurice Bendrix, The End of the Affair, Graham Greene, 1951
  • Lennie Small, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, 1937
  • Mr. Biswas, A House for Mr. Biswas, V. S. Naipaul, 1961
  • Alden Pyle, The Quiet American, Graham Greene, 1955
  • Kimball “Kim” O’Hara, Kim, Rudyard Kipling, 1901
  • Newland Archer, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton, 1920
  • Clyde Griffiths, An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser, 1925
  • Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne, 1926
  • Quentin Compson, The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, 1929
  • Charlie Marlow, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1902
  • Celie, The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1982
  • Augie March, The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow 1953

Source: Book Magazine, March/April 2002.

Written by The UnNovelist
The Unnovelist