George Esmond Warrington
George Esmond Warrington, the older son of Madame Rachel Esmond Warrington and her deceased husband, and the heir to the Castlewood estate in Virginia. Impetuous, emotional, and introspective, George volunteers to serve in the French and Indian War under a family friend and neighbor, Colonel George Washington. George Warrington is reported killed in action, but he turns up three years later, his life having been saved by an Indian girl. A short time later, he goes to England, where his young brother, Harry, has been confined in debtors’ prison. While in England, he takes up the study of literature and marries the daughter of a family friend. For a time, he tries to earn a living by writing; one of his plays is a success, the other a failure. Then his uncle, Sir Miles Warrington, dies, and George inherits his title and estate. Shortly before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in America, he and his wife return to the family plantation in Virginia; however, having no sympathy for the cause of the colonists, he leaves Virginia and returns to England once more. There he retires to the management of his country estate.
Harry Esmond Warrington
Harry Esmond Warrington, the younger brother of George, an extroverted, gay, and athletic young man, almost the complete opposite of his brother. Motivated by a strong personal sense of honor, Harry became involved in many scrapes in England, where he goes after the report of his brother’s death. Usually lucky in gambling, Harry soon becomes the center of a social group of court dandies, but after a wild, profligate career he ends up in debtors’ prison. He is rescued by his brother George, who intends to share his patrimony with him. Harry, feeling that he has to justify his life, uses the money to buy a commission in the army and fights under General Wolfe at Quebec. Returning to Virginia, he marries Fanny Mountain, the daughter of his mother’s housekeeper and companion. Spurred on by Fanny, an ardent revolutionist, Harry fights against the British in the Revolutionary War. Later, after his wife’s death, he returns to England and marries the younger sister of his brother’s wife.
Madame Rachel Esmond Warrington
Madame Rachel Esmond Warrington, the mistress of Castlewood, a Virginia plantation, a handsome and charming but snobbish woman proud of her Esmond connections in England and preferring to be called Madame Esmond. Always possessive of her sons, she cannot adjust herself to their independence in maturity, and she carries on a feud with them in her last years. A staunch defender of the British crown, she remains a Tory throughout the Revolution.
Baroness Beatrix Bernstein
Baroness Beatrix Bernstein, Madame Warrington’s older half sister in England. Cold, grasping, and aggressive, she feels little sympathy for any human being except her young kinsman, Harry Warrington. She uses every device she can think of to break up Harry’s proposed marriage to her niece, Maria Esmond.
Lady Maria Esmond
Lady Maria Esmond, a spinster who claims to be twenty-seven years old but is really forty. Still a handsome woman, she is eager to marry. She flirts with her cousin, Harry Warrington, and inveigles from him a proposal of marriage. A great gambler, she is always in debt. When it is discovered that George Warrington is alive and Harry is not the heir to the Virginia fortune, she releases him from his promise to marry her. Later, she marries a parson,...
(The entire section is 1452 words.)