Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Randolph Henry Ash

Randolph Henry Ash, a famous Victorian poet. Both his art and his life reveal a man who discovers the life of the mind first and the love of his life much later. He has hidden stories to tell to whomever can enter into correspondence with him.

Christabel LaMotte

Christabel LaMotte, who lives a sheltered life as a single Victorian woman, first with her friend Blanche Glover and later in the attic of her sister’s home. Her art is not widely appreciated, suggesting gender attitudes that survive the Victorians and divide the modern researchers, who study them.

Ellen Ash

Ellen Ash, Randolph’s wife, whose Victorian values demand that she hide the truth even in her grave.

Blanche Glover

Blanche Glover, Christabel’s companion, whose death raises questions about love and gender.

Roland Mitchell

Roland Mitchell, the protagonist. He has a doctorate in literature but has found only a bleak position as a research assistant. His live-in relationship with Val is equally bleak. They met as students; inertia and failure have kept them together. Roland’s research keeps him buried in the London Library until he discovers evidence of a correspondence between Ash and LaMotte. His ensuing quest carries him back in touch with life and reveals him to be Ash’s spiritual descendant.

Maud Bailey


(The entire section is 403 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Byatt creates two sets of characters, Victorian and modern; the Victorian characters are not only the professional focus of most of the...

(The entire section is 500 words.)