Characters Discussed

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Colonel Thomas Newcome

Colonel Thomas Newcome, the son of Thomas Newcome, Esq., and his first wife, Susan. Always rebellious as a boy, he left home and went to India, where he distinguished himself in the Bengal Cavalry and in service with the East India Company. During his career, he married and fathered a son, Clive. When Mrs. Newcome died, the small boy was sent to England to be educated. Later, after he had acquired a considerable fortune, Colonel Newcome returned to England to rejoin his son. Their fortunes prospered, and the father tried to give his son a happy life. Honest, naïve, tender-hearted, he acts always for the best, but his affairs turn out badly. Eventually, his fortune is dissipated by the failure of the great Bundlecund Banking Company, in which he has invested his money, his daughter-in-law’s, and funds some friends had entrusted to him. He spends his last days in poverty and at the mercy of a domineering old widow, the mother of his daughter-in-law. Always mindful of his son’s happiness, the colonel tries for years to guide Clive’s life, but he succeeds only in involving the young man with the wrong wife and settling him in a business career he does not enjoy. At the time of his death, the colonel is a pensioner in the Hospital of Grey Friars.

Clive Newcome

Clive Newcome, the colonel’s son, a young man with considerable artistic ability. His charming manner endears him to a great many friends, including his cousin, Ethel Newcome, but because Clive is not of noble birth, her mother and grandmother do not approve of the match. Clive marries another young woman whom his father cherishes, but the union is a failure because a domineering mother-in-law presides over the Newcome household. Clive changes from the carefree boy that he once was to a bitter young man estranged for a time from his devoted father, whom he blames for much of his misery. At the end of the story, Clive is a widower with a small son; the reader is left with the impression that he will marry Ethel Newcome.

Ethel Newcome

Ethel Newcome, the beautiful, spirited daughter of Colonel Newcome’s half brother Brian. Her mother, Lady Ann Newcome, is descended from an aristocratic family, and it is the hope of her grandmother, Lady Kew, that Ethel will marry well. Ethel is especially fond of Colonel Newcome. She is also attracted to Clive, but the energy of her grandmother in pushing her into society blinds her to her cousin’s attentions. Haughty and high-spirited, Ethel rejects several offers of marriage and ends up taking charge of the children of her selfish, brutal brother Barnes. Estranged from the colonel and Clive because she has belittled her cousin’s intentions, she develops into a serious, self-sacrificing spinster; but at the end of the story she turns over a part of the Newcome fortune to her uncle and cousin, and the reader is left anticipating her subsequent marriage to Clive.

James Binnie

James Binnie, Colonel Newcome’s friend in the Indian service, a man of great humor, good sense, and intelligence. He, his widowed sister Mrs. Mackenzie, and her daughter Rosa live with the colonel and Clive. He leaves his fortune to his niece when he dies; this is some of the money that the colonel invests in the Bundlecund Banking Company. Fortunately, Binnie dies before his friend goes bankrupt and his sister turns into a shrew.

Rosa Newcome

Rosa Newcome, called Rosey, the daughter of Mrs. Mackenzie, a shy, pretty girl when she and her mother come to live with the Newcomes and...

(This entire section contains 2311 words.)

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her uncle, James Binnie. Always anxious to please, Rosey has no life of her own, for she is completely overwhelmed by her domineering mother. Never truly in love with Clive, she turns more and more against him after their marriage. She dies in childbirth without having known any real happiness.

Mrs. Mackenzie

Mrs. Mackenzie, called the Campaigner, the widowed sister of James Binnie and a vigorous, good-humored, but domineering person at the beginning of the story. She is particularly possessive of her daughter Rosey, who marries Clive Newcome. After their money has been lost through Colonel Newcome’s unwise investments, she turns into a termagant and a domestic terror. She torments the colonel because of his misfortunes, becomes more and more possessive of Rosey, and makes life miserable for Clive.

Thomas Newcome, Esq.

Thomas Newcome, Esq., the father of Thomas, Brian, and Hobson Newcome, a poor man who, through industry and thrift, created a prosperous banking establishment. Truly in love with his first wife, who dies soon after the birth of their son Thomas, he marries a second time but is never really happy thereafter.

Susan Newcome

Susan Newcome, the first wife of Thomas Newcome, Esq. She is pretty but penniless, and she dies young, in childbirth.

Sophia Althea Newcome

Sophia Althea Newcome, the stepmother of young Thomas Newcome and mother of the twins, Brian and Hobson. An efficient businesswoman, she influences her husband in his banking business. Rigid and domineering, she never cares for her stepson and is happy when he goes off to India. Before her death, however, she requests that he inherit some of her money; this is the sum that Ethel Newcome turns over to Colonel Newcome and her cousin Clive.

Sir Brian Newcome

Sir Brian Newcome, the half brother of Colonel Newcome and the twin of Hobson. He is a neat, bland, smiling banker whose external appearance masks his selfish, ambitious nature. Never fully aware of his half brother’s virtues, Brian does not entertain him until after he learns of the colonel’s wealth after his return to England.

Lady Ann Newcome

Lady Ann Newcome, Sir Brian’s wife, the daughter of haughty old Lady Kew. Pleasant but rather flighty, she entertains a more aristocratic set than does her sister-in-law, Mrs. Hobson Newcome. She is kind to Colonel Newcome and Clive, though she cannot approve the idea of the young man’s marriage to her daughter Ethel.

Hobson Newcome

Hobson Newcome, Sir Brian’s twin brother, a portly, red-whiskered country squire. Never really comfortable with his wife’s intellectual and artistic friends, he tolerates them as long as they do not interfere with his agricultural pursuits.

Mrs. Hobson Newcome

Mrs. Hobson Newcome, a fat, pretty woman fond of artistic people. She never fails to hint that this interest makes her superior to her sister-in-law, of whom she is jealous. She has affection for Clive and believes that she deals generously and gracefully with Colonel Newcome.

Barnes Newcome

Barnes Newcome, Sir Brian’s oldest son, a hypocritical dandy who conceives a great dislike for Colonel Newcome and Clive. The father of two children by one of the village girls, he marries Lady Clara Pulleyn. Their marriage is a dreadful one; he tortures his wife mentally and treats their children abominably. Finally, Lady Clara leaves him, and Ethel Newcome cares for the abandoned children. Barnes stands against his uncle in an election and loses to him, but Colonel Newcome’s bankruptcy prevents his serving in Parliament.

Lady Clara Pulleyn

Lady Clara Pulleyn, later Barnes Newcome’s wife, a pretty, sad girl whose marriage was arranged by her parents. She leads a miserable life, even after she has been divorced from her brutal husband and has married Jack Belsize; there is always the shadow of her former life between them.

The Honorable Charles Belsize

The Honorable Charles Belsize, called Jack Belsize by his friends, later Lord Highgate, in love with Lady Clara Pulleyn. On one occasion, he creates a scandalous scene because of his jealousy of Barnes Newcome. Lady Clara flees to him when she deserts her husband; after her divorce, they are married.

Lord Kew

Lord Kew, called Frank, Ethel Newcome’s cousin and Jack Belsize’s good friend, an open-hearted, honorable young man who sincerely loves Ethel. She refuses his suit after the scandal of her brother’s family life and divorce is made public.

Lady Kew

Lady Kew, Lady Ann Newcome’s aristocratic mother. Insulting and overbearing, she runs the affairs of her family and arranges their marriages.

Lady Julia

Lady Julia, Lady Kew’s older daughter, completely dependent on her mother and forced to take the fierce old woman’s abuse.

Lady Walham

Lady Walham, Lord Kew’s mother, a long-suffering victim of her mother-in-law’s domineering ways.

George Barnes

George Barnes, Lord Kew’s younger brother.

Lady Henrietta Pulleyn

Lady Henrietta Pulleyn, Lady Clara’s sister. She marries Lord Kew after Ethel Newcome has rejected him.

Sarah Mason

Sarah Mason, Susan Newcome’s housekeeper and companion, never forgotten by Colonel Newcome. He supports her throughout most of her life and tries to do so even after he has gone bankrupt.

Martha Honeyman

Martha Honeyman, Clive Newcome’s aunt and his guardian during his boyhood in England, a soft-spoken woman who dearly loves her charge. Thrifty and careful, she is constantly alarmed by the spendthrift ways of Charles, her clergyman brother.

Charles Honeyman

Charles Honeyman, Martha’s clergyman brother and Colonel Newcome’s brother-in-law. Fond of gambling and the wine bottle, he wastes much of the money that the colonel gives him. Later, he goes to India and becomes a popular clergyman there. Though appearing humble and meek in manner, he is actually cunning and selfish.

Mr. Ridley

Mr. Ridley, Charles Honeyman’s landlord.

Mrs. Ridley

Mrs. Ridley, his wife, a good woman who befriends Colonel Newcome.

John James Ridley

John James Ridley, called J. J., their son and Clive Newcome’s good friend. A talented boy, he becomes a successful artist and is elected to the Royal Academy. When Clive is in financial difficulties, J. J. buys several of his friend’s paintings.

Arthur Pendennis

Arthur Pendennis, Clive Newcome’s friend and an editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. He narrates the story of the Newcomes, and he and his wife are always ready to help Colonel Newcome and Clive in their troubles.

Laura Pendennis

Laura Pendennis, his wife. She becomes fond of Ethel Newcome and tries to promote the affair between Clive and his cousin. Never able to tolerate Rosey Newcome, Laura is not surprised when Clive’s marriage proves unhappy.


Larkins, the Pendennises’ servant.

George Warrington

George Warrington, co-editor of the Pall Mall Gazette and a friend of Clive Newcome and Arthur Pendennis.

The Marquis of Farintosh

The Marquis of Farintosh, a gossipy, fashionable young man whom Lady Kew selects as an eligible suitor for Ethel Newcome’s hand. Ethel rejects his offer.

Lady Glenlivat

Lady Glenlivat, Lord Farintosh’s mother.


Todhunter and


Henchman, toadies to Lord Farintosh.

The Duc d’Ivry

The Duc d’Ivry, a sixty-year-old French nobleman.

Madame la Duchesse d’Ivry

Madame la Duchesse d’Ivry, his wife, much younger than her husband; a poetess and a patroness of the arts. She is responsible for a duel between Lord Kew and hot-tempered Monsieur de Castillones.


Antoinette, their daughter.

Monsieur de Castillones

Monsieur de Castillones, Lord Kew’s rival for the favors of the duchesse d’Ivry. He wounds Lord Kew, but not fatally, in a duel.

The Comte de Florac

The Comte de Florac, later the Duc d’Ivry, a French aristocrat of ancient lineage and a gentleman of the old school.

Madame de Florac

Madame de Florac, his wife, for many years secretly in love with Colonel Newcome.

Vicomte Paul de Florac

Vicomte Paul de Florac, also the Prince de Montcontour, their son, an exuberant young Frenchman, a friend of Clive Newcome and Lord Kew.

Madame la Princesse de Montcontour

Madame la Princesse de Montcontour, nee Higgs,

Miss Cann

Miss Cann, an artist, a tenant of the Ridleys and a friend of Clive Newcome and J. J. Ridley.

Fred Bayham

Fred Bayham, another tenant of the Ridleys, a boisterous old school friend of Charles Honeyman, whom he loves to bait. He is a favorite among the poor people of Newcome when he campaigns for the election of Colonel Newcome to Parliament.

Mr. Gandish

Mr. Gandish, an artist, the head of the art school where Clive Newcome and J. J. Ridley study.

Charles Gandish

Charles Gandish, his son.

Mrs. Irons

Mrs. Irons, the housekeeper of Colonel Newcome and James Binnie. Jealous of Mrs. Mackenzie, she does not get along with that domineering woman.

Mr. Sherrick

Mr. Sherrick, a wine merchant and a friend of the Honeymans. Because he had invested money in the Bundlecund Banking Company, he is one of those whom Colonel Newcome feels he must repay.

Mrs. Sherrick

Mrs. Sherrick, his wife, a former opera singer.

Miss Sherrick

Miss Sherrick, their daughter.


Rowland and


Oliver, the lawyers in the divorce suit of Lady Clara and Barnes Newcome.

Horace Fogey

Horace Fogey,

Sir Thomas de Boots

Sir Thomas de Boots, and

Charles Heavyside

Charles Heavyside, friends of Barnes Newcome and members of the fashionable London club of which he is a member.

John Giles, Esq.

John Giles, Esq., the brother-in-law of Mrs. Hobson Newcome, a poor relation.

Louisa Giles

Louisa Giles, his wife.

Mademoiselle Lebrun

Mademoiselle Lebrun, the French governess to the children of the Hobson Newcomes.

Hannah Hicks

Hannah Hicks, Martha Honeyman’s devoted servant, who assists her mistress in the operation of a seaside lodging house.


Sally, another servant in the Honeyman lodging house, a pretty but inefficient girl.

Captain Gobey

Captain Gobey, a friend whom Colonel Newcome, James Binnie, and the Mackenzies meet on the Continent.

Captain Hobey

Captain Hobey, another friend from the Continent, a suitor of Rosey Mackenzie.

Tom Potts

Tom Potts, a hatter in Newcome and editor of the local paper; he hates Barnes Newcome.

Dr. Quackenboss

Dr. Quackenboss, a society doctor who attends Rosey Newcome.

Miss O’Grady

Miss O’Grady, the governess of the daughter of the duc and duchesse d’Ivry.




Critical Essays