Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Portia Quayne

Portia Quayne, a confused and demanding sixteen-year-old girl who lives with her stepbrother. Through her affection for Eddie, she loses some of her childish idealism and sense of the simplicity of human affairs.

Thomas Quayne

Thomas Quayne, Portia’s stepbrother, a partner in a London advertising firm. He takes his stepsister into his home, though he scarcely knows her. Because he and his wife have no children of their own, Portia is disturbing to them.

Anna Quayne

Anna Quayne, Thomas’ wife. Her friendship for Eddie arouses a confused jealousy in Portia. Anna becomes upset when she learns, by reading the girl’s diary, that Portia is unhappy in her home.


Eddie, a callow, self-assured twenty-three-year-old employee at Thomas Quayne’s office. He is both demanding and disdainful of Portia’s affection for him. He upsets her by showing fondness for Daphne Heccomb.

Mrs. Heccomb

Mrs. Heccomb. Anna’s old governess, who takes care of Portia when the Quaynes go to Capri for an extended holiday.

Daphne Heccomb

Daphne Heccomb, Mrs. Heccomb’s stepdaughter, who is friendly to Portia.

Major Brutt

Major Brutt, a retired officer. Portia runs away from home to him, offering to marry him and polish his boots. The major tactfully sends her back to her stepbrother.

St. Quentin Miller

St. Quentin Miller, an author and close friend of the Quaynes. He is Anna’s confidant, to whom she pours out her problems with respect to young Portia.


Matchett, the Quaynes’s housekeeper. A possessive person, she resents Portia’s affection for Eddie.

Miss Paullie

Miss Paullie, one of Portia’s teachers.


Lilian, an inquisitive school friend of Portia.