Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 480
Peter Westcott, the son of a harsh father and an invalid mother. Having been sent for a time to school, and now reading law in an office, he finds his home life intolerable after the death of his mother, and he leaves Cornwall to accept a job in an acquaintance’s London bookshop. In London, he writes a novel that proves successful, and he marries; but his subsequent books are failures, his small son dies, and his wife leaves him. At last, ready to give up the struggle, he returns to Cornwall. There he meets an old friend who is dying, and from her he learns fortitude.
Clare Elizabeth Rossiter
Clare Elizabeth Rossiter, whom Peter marries. He blames her for the death of their son. In spite of Peter’s efforts to preserve their marriage, Clare leaves him for another man.
Stephen Brant, a farmer with whom Peter becomes friendly as a boy and from whom Peter learns much about life. It is through Stephen that Peter meets the bookseller who employs him. When the political activities going on in the bookshop prove dangerous, Stephen comes to take Peter away. Clare disapproves of Stephen.
Nora Monogue, whom Peter meets in London. She encourages him to write. Much later, the dying Nora admits that she has always loved him; her dying request is that he go back to London and continue writing. Through her, he learns fortitude.
Jerry Cardillac (Cards)
Jerry Cardillac (Cards), Peter’s idol at school. After Peter’s marriage, Clare becomes interested in Cardillac; later, she leaves Peter to join Cardillac in France.
Emilio Zanti, a London bookseller who gives Peter a job. Clare disapproves of him.
Bobby Galleon, Peter’s schoolfriend, the son of a famous writer. After Peter has been instrumental in the expelling of the school’s best bowler, Bobby alone does not join in hissing him.
Jerrard, the best bowler in school. On the eve of a big game, Peter finds him forcing whiskey down the throat of a small boy and reports him. Jerrard is expelled, the game is lost, and Peter is hissed in school.
Zachary Tan, the operator of a curiosity shop to which Stephen Brant takes young Peter. There he meets Emilio Zanti.
Mr. Aitchinson, in whose office Peter reads law for a time.
Gottfried Hanz, an employee in Mr. Zanti’s bookshop. Peter works as Hanz’s assistant.
Mrs. Brockett, in whose lodging house Peter lives while working in the bookshop and while writing his first novel.
Mrs. Launce, whom Peter meets after his introduction to literary circles. She is instrumental in bringing Peter and Clare together.
Stephen Westcott, the son of Peter and Clare. His early death is a final blow to Peter’s happiness.
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