The 100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900

This is an interesting list…

Book Magazine, now defunct, compiled a panel of 55 authors, literary agents, editors, and actors in 2002 to “rank the top one hundred characters in literature since 1900.”

  1. Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
  2. Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, 1951
  3. Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
  4. Leopold Bloom, Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922
  5. Rabbit Angstrom, Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960
  6. Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1902
  7. Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
  8. Molly Bloom, Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922
  9. Stephen Dedalus, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, 1916
  10. Lily Bart, The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton, 1905
  11. Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, 1958
  12. Gregor Samsa, The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, 1915
  13. The Invisible Man, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952
  14. Lolita, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
  15. Aureliano Buendia, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1967
  16. Clarissa Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, 1925
  17. Ignatius Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980
  18. George Smiley, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John LeCarre, 1974
  19. Mrs. Ramsay, To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf, 1927
  20. Bigger Thomas, Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940
  21. Nick Adams, In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway, 1925
  22. Yossarian, Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961
  23. Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell, 1936
  24. Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
  25. Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, 1939

Read the whole list here.

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One thought on “The 100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900

  1. It doesn’t come as a surprise to see Jay Gatsby on the list of the top 100 characters in English Literature since 1900. Some like this protagonist of ‘The Great Gatsby‘, while others don’t. The fact is, you can’t be indifferent to him. It’s like the end justifies the means, in this case, getting Daisy back into his life. Hence, the dubious means by which Gatsby gained his wealth is o.k. I found some very interesting comments on Shmoop.com that helped me understand the novel as whole, both as a book of history (as it throws light on the society of the 1920s) and, as a work of fiction.

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