Heinrich Lee (HIN-rihkh), a painter. Losing his father in early childhood and, later, finding it impossible to finish his studies, he sets out to fulfill his dreams of becoming a painter. Studying in Switzerland and then in Munich, and after many discouragements and hardships, he becomes a successful artist and a moderately rich man. He returns to his native town, is elected a county official, and, finally, writes the story of his life.
Frau Lee, Heinrich Lee’s devoted, self-sacrificing mother. Having used her slender inheritance to further her son’s career, she is all but forgotten by the successful Heinrich and dies just as he finally returns home.
Anna (AH-nah), Heinrich Lee’s frail cousin and first love, who dies as a young girl.
Judith (YEW-diht), a widow who loves Heinrich Lee. When Heinrich tells her he wishes to be faithful to Anna’s memory, she emigrates to America, but she returns in Heinrich’s later years to be near him.
Roemer (REH-mehr), an unstable painter who is Heinrich Lee’s teacher.
Lys (lees), painters who introduce Heinrich Lee to favorable contacts in the artistic world of Munich.
Schmalhoefer (SHMAHL-heh-fehr), a secondhand dealer who sells some of the indigent Heinrich Lee’s pictures and offers him a job as a flagpole painter. The young man accepts the work and so impresses his employer with his willingness that Schmalhoefer later leaves him a considerable sum of money in his will.
Count Dietrich zu W . . . berg
Count Dietrich zu W . . . berg (DEE-trihkh), the purchaser of Heinrich Lee’s paintings and the sponsor of his successful exhibit.
Dorothea (doh-roh-TAY-ah), Count W . . . berg’s adopted daughter, who is loved by Heinrich Lee. Doubting his love because he delays so long in speaking of it, she marries another.