Joseph Vance, an honest Englishman who helps his friends and suffers sometimes for his goodness. Even his love is denied because he refuses to hurt the woman he loves by telling her that her own brother’s rascality is what has put Joseph himself in a bad light.
Mr. Christopher Vance
Mr. Christopher Vance, Joseph’s prodigal father. A drunkard, he is one of his son’s greatest problems. He almost bankrupts himself because, while drunk, he causes a fire in the building housing his business.
Mrs. Vance, Christopher’s first wife, Joseph’s mother. She dies shortly after Joseph graduates from Oxford.
Dr. Randall Thorpe
Dr. Randall Thorpe, Joseph’s benefactor. It is he who sends Joseph to Oxford.
Lossie Thorpe, Dr. Thorpe’s oldest child, loved by Joseph. Eventually, she and Joseph spend their last days together in Italy.
Joe (Beppino) Thorpe
Joe (Beppino) Thorpe, Dr. Thorpe’s son. He is a bigamist, in one marriage using Joseph Vance’s name. His son by that marriage is adopted by Joseph, whose action causes Lossie to turn against him, for she thinks he is the child’s real father. Beppino is a would-be poet. He dies of typhoid fever.
Violet Thorpe, Lossie’s sister.
Nolly Thorpe, Lossie’s other brother.
General Desprez, a wealthy army officer, Lossie’s husband. He dies before he can clear Joseph of the charges of which his wife thinks Joseph guilty.
Pheener, the Christopher Vances’ maid. After her mistress’ death, she marries Christopher.
Bony Macallister, Joseph’s school friend. Later, he and Joseph become business partners in an engineering firm.
Janey Spencer, Joseph’s wife. She loves him dearly and is drowned when she refuses to go into a lifeboat from a sinking ship after choosing to try to swim to shore with her husband.
Sibyl Perceval, an heiress who marries Beppino shortly before his death.