Jim Crace

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Walter Thirsk

A childless middle-aged widower who narrates the story of his village’s demise in pragmatic but elegiac terms. Walter has lived in the village for a dozen years, since he arrived in the employ of Masterread analysis of Walter Thirsk

Philip Earle/Mr. Quill

A mapmaker hired by Edmund Jordan to assess his property and draw up plans for a sheep farm, nicknamed “Mr. Quill” by the villagers for his ever-present pen and paper. Mr. Quill is educated and… read analysis of Philip Earle/Mr. Quill

Master Kent

The original owner of the land on which the village is situated. He administers the property on behalf of his wife, Lucy Kent, but since she’s recently died without children, her cousin, Edmund Jordanread analysis of Master Kent

Edmund Jordan

The owner of the land on which the village is situated. Since Master Kent produced no sons with his wife, Lucy, her property is entailed to her cousin, Jordan. Jordan arrives in the village… read analysis of Edmund Jordan

Mistress Beldam/Stranger Woman

An enigmatic woman who arrives in the village with her father and husband at the beginning of the novel. Her real name is never known; Master Kent nicknames her Mistress Beldam, and Walter explains that… read analysis of Mistress Beldam/Stranger Woman
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Master Beldam/Young Man/Husband

Mistress Beldam’s husband, a mysterious stranger who builds a shack on the village fringes at the beginning of the novel. As punishment for allegedly stealing Master Kent’s birds and burning his dovecote, Master… read analysis of Master Beldam/Young Man/Husband

Beldam Father/Old Man

Mistress Beldam’s father, who arrives in the village with his daughter and son-in-law at the beginning of the novel. With Master Beldam, he’s sentenced to a week in the pillory, but because… read analysis of Beldam Father/Old Man

Lizzie Carr

One of the youngest girls in the village. In the beginning of the novel, Mr. Quill chooses her as the Gleaning Queen, investing her with all the symbolism of harvest abundance and the promise of… read analysis of Lizzie Carr
Minor Characters
Cecily Thirsk
Walter’s wife. Although she’s been dead for several years, Walter mentions her frequently. The years of his marriage marked the height of his feelings of inclusion in the village; as a widower, he feels lonely and isolated even before Edmund Jordan arrives and unsettles the town.
Kitty Gosse
A middle-aged widow with whom Walter has a sexual relationship. While she provides a respite from his loneliness, Walter says he feels nothing for her compared to his love for his dead wife, Cecily.
John Carr
Walter’s neighbor, and one of the village men he most respects. When the villagers begin to suspect that Walter is in league with Jordan and close ranks against him, John is the only person who will talk to him and alert him that he’s been accused of witchcraft.
Lucy Kent
Master Kent’s wife. Because she dies without leaving any children, her property passes from her husband’s hands into Edmund Jordan’s. Lucy Kent’s childless death represents the insidious decay troubling the village even before Jordan arrives to disrupt its routines.
Christopher and Thomas Derby/The Derby Twins
A set of twins, two unmarried young men. Along with Brooker Higgs, they’re probably responsible for burning down Master Kent’s dovecote, although Mistress, Master, and Father Beldam are blamed for this incident. They’re also among the first to flee the village.
Brooker Higgs
One of the village’s young bachelors, a companion of the Derby twins. With them he burns down Master Kent’s dovecote; later, all three flee the village, fearing persecution from Edmund Jordan.
Emma Carr
John Carr’s wife.
Thomas Rogers
A young man of the village, known for playing his pipe (albeit badly) on feast days.
Mr. Baynham
Edmund Jordan’s steward.
Edmund Jordan Sr.
Lucy Kent’s father, who originally owned the village.
Anne Rogers
Thomas Roger’s mother, who is detained by Edmund Jordan on spurious charges of witchcraft and confesses after being tortured.
Abel Saxton
The village blacksmith.
Gervase Carr
Lizzie Carr’s father, who instigates the village attack on Jordan’s groom.
The groom
one of Edmund Jordan’s manservants. After he unwisely taunts Gervase Carr that Lizzie could be burned for witchcraft, the villagers attack him, after which they’re forced to immediately flee Jordan’s wrath.