Favourite character from a Scottish book
For Book Week Scotland 2014, we asked you to vote for your favourite character from a Scottish book. Our shortlist of 50 attracted over 3150 votes from 28 different countries including Argentina, Singapore, Qatar and, of course, Scotland.
With the votes counted, the character crowned the favourite character from a Scottish book is Francis Crawford of Lymond from The Lymond Chronicles, created by Dorothy Dunnett. It was a close-run battle for spots in the top 10, but the full line-up is below
|1||Francis Crawford of Lymond
Well before Game of Thrones, Dorothy Dunnett created the immersive, meticulously researched Lymond Chronicles set in 16th Century Scotland. At the centre is the dashing Francis Crawford of Lymond: poet, musician, soldier, nobleman and outlaw, what’s not to love? Murder, treason, political intrigue abound as Francis battles to prove his innocence and restore his honour with the help of an array of wonderful characters – some real, some fictional.
The Game of Kings
There are many knuckle-dragging hardmen in Scottish literature but Leith sociopath Francis Begbie, introduced in Irvine Welsh's modern urban landmark Trainspotting and bolstered in its sequel Porno, is perhaps the one who has left the greatest impression. This proud member of the Young Leith Team of football hooligans is an awful, grotesque, violent creature driven by bouts of raging red mist and an intense dislike of anyone who gets on his nerves any place any time. For Begbie, the sweetest kiss is a Glasgow kiss. But, somehow, against our better judgment, he also often makes us laugh.
Hard drinking, smoking, emotionally complicated with a love of books and music, Rebus' character is an example of the best and worst of Scottish hard men in literature. His strengths and weaknesses are both born from his tough upbringing. His romances are doomed from the outset and torn by an obsession with his work, he is forever the lone wolf. As a loner, only the reader knows how deep these still waters run.
Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction - Arthur Conan Doyle's brilliant detective is possibly the most successful Scottish literary export of all time, reincarnated in books, films and TV shows around the world annually. His name has become synonymous with the ultimate in brainbox super-sleuthing, but Holmes fanatics will point out that he is also a fascinating cliche-free character; a cocaine-addicted, egotistical, humourless, sexless sociopathic genius. Who is also a dab hand with a sword and a handgun. In a time obsessed with literary detectives, this 120 year old creation remains the strangest and most compelling of them all.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Arthur Conan Doyle
‘Chris Guthrie is a character that has stood the test of time, maybe because we can still relate to her today. She’s tough, resourceful, and fiercely independent. Although life is often hard for her, as we watch her grow up through A Scots Quair, she becomes one of the most believable and rounded characters in Scottish literature. Chris is often seen as symbolising Scotland in the first part of the twentieth century – the division between the intellectual and attachment to the land. We’re not sure how she would have reacted to Book Week Scotland’s vote, but she certainly would have had something to say!’
Before JK Rowling introduced us to Hermione Granger, schoolgirls in children's books fell into two camps. They were hateful teachers' pets or fun-loving free-thinkers. Then along came awkward, bespectacled, exam-fixated Hermione, perhaps the only swotty female in children's literature who is celebrated and written with love, instead of being written off as a spoilsport square. Hermione's big brains and even bigger heart made millions of clever schoolgirls breathe a sigh of relief - you can do your homework every night, come top of the class, and still be a swashbuckling heroine.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J K Rowling
Katie Morag is the quintessential little Scottish girl that everyone can relate to. Her white Fair Isle sweater, tartan kilt and welly boots make her instantly recognisable and her fiery red hair provides a hint of the sort of little girl she is – mischievous, thrawn and very feisty. The ultimate tomboy, she is always up to something and gets herself into so many scrapes, but always manages to come through her adventures and leave her readers smiling!
'Delighted that Katie Morag is still a favourite book character. All of 33 years old, she is now treading the TV boards but her first home will always be on the page. Long Live Books!'
Oh Jean, you are the creme de la creme. Miss Brodie captures the spirit of romanticism with her delusions of grandeur and narcissistic traits she wouldn't be let near children today, but in Muriel Spark's Edinburgh, she led a group of young girls from puberty to adulthood. Her ultimate downfall is her pride, which doesn't allow her to see that she has created girls in her own image who will, of course, eventually usurp her from her throne. As they blossom, Jean withers and her magic and allure fade. Of course, we should despise her, but in the style of a typical flawed hero, we just can't get enough.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Oor Wullie, your Wullie, a’body’s Wullie! Young William McCallum first appeared on the Scottish scene back in 1936 in a Sunday Post comic strip. Set in the fictional toon o’ Auchenshoogle, Wullie and his pals Fat Bob, Wee Eck, Soapy Joe and Primrose Paterson quickly became a Scottish institution and have kept the nation entertained ever since. Aye! Rare guid reads for all the family!
D C Thomson
'Conceived' in an Edinburgh cafe, the world watched Harry grow from boy to man and grew with him ourselves. We have followed him coming of age; witnessed him being bullied at home, being an outcast, a student, a friend, a team mate, a child and adult. He represents the good in us with just enough fight to overcome the evil in the world and enough humility to have really good pals. Like all good characters, Harry has great powers and has the choice to use them for good or for evil.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J K Rowling