Britain’s Favourite Classic Literary Heroines Revealed

By Nathan Lee, TLE Correspondent 

Britain’s all-time favourite classic literary heroines have been revealed in a new survey.

According to the list, Elizabeth Bennet, the charming and quick-witted protagonist from Jane Austin’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, takes the crown as the nation’s all-time favourite classic literary heroine. Agatha Christie’s much-loved detective Miss Marple was runner-up, followed by the eponymous central character from Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre. Scarlett O’Hara from Margaret Mitchell’s melodramatic 1936 epic Gone With the Wind was fourth, ahead of Jo March from Louisa May Alcott’s influential 19th century work Little Women.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults was conducted by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to mark the DVD release of Thomas Hardy’s Victorian love story ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, whose Bathsheba Everdene was named 13th most popular character

A spokesman said: “The study shows that classic stories are still very popular amongst the British public.

“Many characters in this list have had their popularity boosted by film adaptions of the books they originated from. But this just allows more people to enjoy the stories and make them more accessible to those who may not find the time to read. When a classic is made into a film, you’re able to enjoy it with the family all at the same time which will also make more easily accessible.”

The survey revealed strong characters such as Éowyn from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy made it in to the top 15. As did her co-star Galadriel who appears throughout the Trilogy and The Hobbit book.

Eponine from Les Miserables and Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights also ranked highly in the poll of 2,000 UK adults. Emma from Jane Austen’s novel of the same name rounds off the top 15 list of classic literary heroines.

The most popular traits in a female lead character was found to be ‘wilful and independent’ closely followed by ‘bright and intellectual’. But despite the nation’s love of books and their characters almost six in ten Brits would like to see more strong female characters in novels and films.

The spokesman added: “As long as readers can either resonate with a character or have the desire to be like them – they’ll be successful.”

Top 15 Classic Literary Heroines

1. Elizabeth Bennet – Pride & Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen
2. Miss Marple – Miss Marple – (1927) Agatha Christie
3. Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre – (1847) Charlotte Bronte
4. Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With the Wins (1936) Margaret Mitchell
5. Jo March – Little Women (1880) Louisa May Alcott
6. Eponine – Les Miserables (1862) – Victor Hugo
7. Éowyn – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (first published 1954) J. R. R Tolkien
8. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) Thomas Hardy
9. Catherine Earnshaw – Wuthering Heights (1847) Emily Bronte
10. Galadriel – The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings (1937) J. R. R. Tolkien
11. Anna Karenina – Anna Karenina (1877) Leo Tolstoy
12. Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby (1925) F. Scott Fitzgerald
13. Bathsheba Everdene – Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) Thomas Hardy
14. Becky Sharp – Vanity Fair (1848) William Makepeace Thackeray
15. Emma – Emma (1815) Jane Austen

Leave a Reply