Arthur “Pen” Pendennis
Arthur “Pen” Pendennis, a young Englishman of semi-aristocratic background whose essential nature is kind and gentle. Throughout the course of the novel, he moves from a childish infatuation with an actress, to an academically and financially disastrous career at the University of Oxbridge, to a dandified life in London, to the career of a journalist, to a seat in Parliament, and to a happy and successful marriage. During this time, he grows more sophisticated and somewhat snobbish, but he still retains the essential goodness of his original character.
Major Arthur Pendennis
Major Arthur Pendennis, Arthur’s uncle, a snobbish retired army officer and a man of fashion. Always aware of his friends’ social standing, he spends much of his time culling the most advantageous invitations to dinners and balls. Although he is a snob, he is good-hearted and generous in the sense that he does look out for his nephew and tries to get him placed in the most favorable circumstances at all times.
Helen Pendennis, Arthur’s mother, a lovely, sensitive woman who adores her young son and spends many heartbreaking moments worrying about him. She dies at the end of the novel but not before she is assured that Arthur will be successful and happy in his life.
Laura Bell, Arthur’s adopted sister, the daughter of Francis Bell, Helen Pendennis’ cousin and former suitor. A sweet, intelligent woman, somewhat like her aunt in character, she watches Arthur’s career and sympathizes with his mother over Arthur’s failures. She is loved by George Warrington, Arthur’s closest friend, but because of his early and unfortunate marriage, she cannot become his wife. Eventually, she marries Arthur, the man she has really loved all her life.
George Warrington, Arthur’s roommate in London. He is reading for the law when Arthur first rooms with him. Later, he takes up a career in journalism and helps Arthur edit the Pall Mall Gazette. He is in love with Laura, but because of an unfortunate marriage he cannot marry again. He is intelligent, exceedingly kind, and casual, a good companion for Arthur.
Sir Francis Clavering
Sir Francis Clavering, a weak and dandified spendthrift baronet, much taken with cards and gambling. After Major Pendennis’ discovery that Lady Clavering’s first husband is still living, Sir Francis offers Arthur Pendennis his seat in Parliament.
Lady Clavering, a supposed widow who becomes Sir Francis’ wife. Although uneducated, she is a good and loving person at heart, and popular in spite of her social gaucheries.
Blanche Amory, Lady Clavering’s daughter by her first marriage, a talented, intelligent girl but affected and shallow in character. For a while it seems that she will marry Arthur Pendennis. Later, she is courted by Harry Foker, but he deserts her when he learns that her father is still living. She resigns herself to a charming spinsterhood.
Master Francis Clavering
Master Francis Clavering, the son of the Claverings and half brother to Blanche, a spoiled and demanding brat. He remains in the background of the story as an example of the very bad match between Mrs. Amory and Sir Francis.
Captain Edward Strong
Captain Edward Strong, a friend of Sir Francis Clavering. He is a cheerful, talented fellow who eventually goes to live at Shepherd’s Lane Inn with Colonel Altamont, the shadowy personage who mysteriously figures in the story of the Clavering family.
Colonel Altamont, a supposedly retired army officer who turns out to be Lady Clavering’s first husband, whom everyone had believed dead. He turns up to plague his former wife with...
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the realization that her second marriage is bigamous; however, it is proved that he had contracted several previous marriages and therefore has no legal claim on her. He eludes the police and disappears at the end of the novel.
Emily Costigan, also known as Miss Fotheringay, an actress with whom young Arthur Pendennis falls desperately in love. An ill-bred, calculating young woman, she finally makes a good marriage with Sir Charles Mirabel and elevates herself into society.
Captain Costigan, her rakish, drunken father. After his daughter marries, he is treated as a poor relation, and he goes to live in Shepherd’s Lane Inn. There, his drunken exploits are the topic of local conversation.
Little Bows, a disabled friend of Colonel Costigan and his daughter, who goes to live with the colonel at Shepherd’s Lane Inn. He gives music lessons to Fanny Bolton, whom he worships in secret.
Fanny Bolton, the daughter of the proprietor of Shepherd’s Lane Inn. For a time, it seems that she will persuade Arthur Pendennis to marry her, but she ends up with one of his acquaintances, Mr. Huxter.
Mr. Bolton and
Mrs. Bolton, Fanny’s parents and the owners of Shepherd’s Lane Inn.
Mr. Huxter, a crude fellow, a surgeon who marries Fanny Bolton. Arthur refuses to recognize him as a friend.
Lady Rockminster, Laura’s kind but somewhat wayward patroness after Helen Pendennis’ death. Delighted with the prospect that Arthur will marry Laura, she does everything she can to hasten the match.
Morgan, Major Pendennis’ valet, a clever but cruel man. By saving his money, he is able to buy the lodgings where Major Pendennis stays. After a quarrel, he tells Arthur Pendennis about his uncle’s scheming to have Blanche Amory inherit her mother’s fortune and to force Sir Francis to relinquish his seat in Parliament.
Mrs. Brixham, a widow who is cheated out of her rooming house by shrewd Morgan.
Frosch, the major’s new valet, a pleasant young fellow whom Morgan procures for his old master.
Percy Sibwright, a neighbor of Warrington and Arthur at Shepherd’s Lane Inn.
Jack Holt, another neighbor, a veteran of Queen Christina’s army. He is engaged in organizing a scheme for smuggling money.
Tom Diver, another neighbor. He claims that he knows of a sunken specie ship from which he plans to reclaim the treasure.
Filby, a man of varied careers as a corporal of dragoons, a field preacher, a missionary agent for converting the Irish, and an actor at a Greenwich Fair Booth.
Henry (Harry) Foker
Henry (Harry) Foker, Arthur Pendennis’ former schoolmate, a dandified, snobbish young man of London. He almost marries Blanche Amory, but the discovery that her father is still alive breaks up the match.
Anatole, Harry Foker’s valet.
George Robert, the earl of Gravesend and Fisherville, Harry Foker’s uncle.
Lady Ann Milton
Lady Ann Milton, Harry Foker’s cousin and intended wife.
Lady Agnes Foker
Lady Agnes Foker, Harry’s mother, who secures for him invitations to parties to which the Claverings are invited.
Mr. Bungay, a publisher who knows little about novels but takes his opinions from professional advisers.
Mr. Bacon, another snobbish publisher, who reads Arthur Pendennis’ book.
Lord Steyne, an aristocratic party-giver, constantly courted by Major Pendennis.
Miss Rouncy, the confidential friend of Emily Costigan during the time that they are actresses.
Mrs. Creed, the Costigans’ landlady.
Dr. Portman, a clergyman and a friend of the Pendennis family.
Lieutenant Sir Derby Oaks
Lieutenant Sir Derby Oaks, another suitor of Emily Costigan.
Mr. Garbets, the principal tragedian of the theatrical company.
Mr. Tatham, a lawyer whom Major Pendennis consults on business.
Mr. Dolphin, a great theatrical manager from London who comes to see Emily play and hires her.
Mr. Wenham and
Mr. Wag, Lord Steyne’s aristocratic friends, who hobnob with Major Pendennis.
The Reverend F. Wapshot
The Reverend F. Wapshot, a teacher at Clavering Grammar School.
Mr. Smirkle, Dr. Portman’s cleric and the tutor to young Arthur Pendennis.
Mr. Plummer, the proprietor of the George, a tavern in London frequented by Captain Costigan.
Miss Blandy, the governess to young Francis Clavering.
Mr. Pymsent, Laura’s admirer, an acquaintance of Arthur.
Mr. Paley, an industrious law student who is different from Arthur and Warrington because he applies himself to his studies.
Charles Shandon, the friend of George Warrington and Arthur Pendennis, later the publisher of the Pall Mall Gazette.
Jack Finucane, the sub-editor of the Pall Mall Gazette.