Life After Life

Life After Life


Kate Atkinson

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Life After Life Characters

Ursula Todd

The protagonist of the novel, Ursula is born on February 11, 1910, to Sylvie and Hugh Todd. She has a unique life, in that she lives it over and over again. In her first… read analysis of Ursula Todd

Sylvie Todd

Ursula’s mother and Hugh’s wife. Sylvie was born to Llewellyn and Lottie Beresford, both of whom were very traditional and conservative people. When Sylvie’s father died when she was a teenager, she… read analysis of Sylvie Todd

Hugh Todd

Ursula’s father and Sylvie’s husband. Hugh and Sylvie get married relatively young and have five children: Maurice, Pamela, Ursula, Teddy, and Jimmy. Hugh is a banker and the head of… read analysis of Hugh Todd

Edward (“Teddy”) Todd

Ursula’s younger brother and the second youngest of the Todd children. Teddy seems to be everyone’s favorite, including Ursula’s. He is adorable as a boy, in complete contrast to Maurice, and as he… read analysis of Edward (“Teddy”) Todd

Isobel (“Izzie”) Todd

Hugh’s younger sister and Ursula’s aunt. Izzie, in contrast to Sylvie, breaks the mold of a traditional wife and mother. She has an affair with a married man at sixteen years old… read analysis of Isobel (“Izzie”) Todd
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Pamela Todd

Ursula’s older sister and the second oldest of the Todd children. Pamela is practical and confident; growing up Ursula looks up to her. Pamela and Maurice constantly get into arguments as children because he… read analysis of Pamela Todd

Maurice Todd

Ursula’s older brother and Sylvie and Hugh’s son. Maurice is the eldest of the five Todd children, and he is not very close with any of them. As a boy, he is a… read analysis of Maurice Todd


The maid of the Todd household. Bridget largely takes care of the household chores, and when Mrs. Glover leaves, also cooks for the family. In one set of chapters, Bridget goes to London to celebrate… read analysis of Bridget


Ursula and Jürgen’s daughter in Ursula’s German life. Five years old when the war starts, Frieda is the light of Ursula’s life. Ursula would do anything to protect her. When she grows sick, Evaread analysis of Frieda

Derek Oliphant

Ursula’s abusive husband. Ursula is driven to marry Derek following her rape, pregnancy, and abortion. Derek is very traditional and exacting when it comes to what he expects of his household and of Ursula… read analysis of Derek Oliphant

Miss Woolf

The senior warden of the rescue squad that Ursula is a part of during World War II. She is a retired hospital matron and is exceptionally calm and cheerful when treating people and responding to… read analysis of Miss Woolf

Jürgen Fuchs

Ursula’s husband in Germany and Frieda’s father. Klara introduces Ursula and Jürgen to one another, and they quickly marry. Jürgen is a Leftist, but is forced to become a Nazi because it is… read analysis of Jürgen Fuchs

Nancy Shawcross

Millie’s younger sister and Teddy’s childhood sweetheart. Nancy’s fate is inextricably linked to Ursula’s because in some timelines, she is murdered by an unknown man while she walking home alone. In others… read analysis of Nancy Shawcross

Adolf Hitler

The real-life leader of the Nazi Party in Germany who becomes the Chancellor of the Reich, starts World War II, and carries out the Holocaust. In the novel, when Ursula spends time abroad in Germany… read analysis of Adolf Hitler

Jimmy Todd

Ursula’s younger brother and the youngest of the five Todd children. Jimmy is the baby of the family, but he is often an afterthought. Jimmy, like Teddy, fights in World War II, though… read analysis of Jimmy Todd

Eva Braun

Adolf Hitler’s real-life mistress. In the book, Eva is friends with Klara and invites Ursula and Frieda to come to Hitler’s mansion, the Berghof. In a later timeline, Ursula uses her knowledge about Eva’s… read analysis of Eva Braun


One of Ursula’s lovers during World War II. Crighton is an Admiral in the Navy, having fought in World War I. He is fifteen years older than Ursula. When they begin their affair, Crighton… read analysis of Crighton


One of Ursula’s lovers during World War II. Ralph, like Ursula, works in the Home Office (Britain’s home security department), and they meet in a German class. In the timelines in which she is… read analysis of Ralph


A friend of Maurice’s who kisses Ursula aggressively on her sixteenth birthday and then rapes her on the back staircase at Fox Corner a few months later, leading to her pregnancy and abortion. In… read analysis of Howie

Benjamin Cole

A neighbor of Ursula’s growing up. In some timelines, Ursula pines after him while he is relatively indifferent to her; in others, Ursula and Benjamin start a romance when they’re very young. Eventually Benjamin… read analysis of Benjamin Cole

Fred Smith

Growing up, Fred works for the butcher near Fox Corner and eventually becomes a train fireman. He and Ursula reunite during the war, when he is working as a fireman with the rescue squads, and… read analysis of Fred Smith


Izzie’s son, whom Sylvie and Hugh adopt because Izzie is sixteen and unmarried when she gives birth to him. They are all fond of Roland, but they quickly realize that he is “not all… read analysis of Roland
Minor Characters
Renee Miller
One of Ursula’s neighbors at Argyll Road. It is heavily implied that Renee is a prostitute, and that she also had sex with Crighton. She dies in the bombing of Argyll Road.
Lavinia Nesbit
One of Ursula’s neighbors at Argyll Road. Lavinia is a spinster who lives with her sister Ruth. In the bombing of Argyll road, Ursula sees Lavinia’s headless, legless body in her dress.
Ruth Nesbit
One of Ursula’s neighbors at Argyll Road. Ruth is a spinster who lives with her sister Lavinia. It is assumed that she, like her sister, dies in the bombing of the apartment.
Mr. Emslie
One of the members of the rescue squad that Ursula works with, although in some timelines, he is rescuing her at Argyll Road. He is crushed by a wall at one of the bombing incidents.
Mr. Palmer
One of the members of the rescue squad that Ursula works with. He is killed by a delayed-action bomb while attending a bombing incident.
Herr Zimmerman
One of the members of the rescue squad that Ursula works with. He is an orchestra violinist and a refugee from Berlin. He dies in one of the raids.
Mrs. Appleyard
One of Ursula’s neighbors at Argyll Road, and Emil’s mother. She dies in the bombing of Argyll Road after frantically searching for her baby.
One of Ursula’s neighbors at Argyll Road, and Mrs. Appleyard’s son. Emil is just a baby when the bombs hit Argyll Road, and Ursula is greatly distressed when she discovers his hand in a mound of debris she is crawling over.
Dr. Fellowes
The town doctor who delivers Ursula. In some timelines, Dr. Fellowes is able to make it to Fox Corner in time to cut the umbilical cord from around her neck; in others, Ursula dies.
Klara Brenner
The daughter of the host family Ursula stays with in Germany. She is an artist and is also friends with Eva Braun, who is Hitler’s mistress. Klara is also the one who introduces Ursula to her soon-to-be husband, Jürgen. Her younger sisters are Hilde and Hanne.
Millie Shawcross
Ursula’s best friend growing up and Nancy’s older sister. Millie grows up to be an actress, and in some of Ursula’s lives, they live together during the war.
Pamela’s husband. Harold is a doctor who serves in World War II. Eventually, he takes over Dr. Fellowes’s practice.
Dr. Kellet
Ursula’s psychiatrist. Dr. Kellet tries to help Ursula understand her feelings of déjà vu and discusses the concept of reincarnation with her.
Mrs. Glover
The cook of the Todd household and George Glover’s mother. Mrs. Glover is rather severe and often tries to lay down the law in the house when Sylvie isn’t harsh enough with the children.
George Glover
Mrs. Glover’s son. George is a plowman at a nearby farm, and Sylvie is very attracted to him. However, after he fights in World War I, he is severely injured and essentially becomes an invalid.
Mr. Carver
The teacher at the secretarial college Ursula attends. He sexually harasses the girls he teaches; in some timelines, Ursula relents to this, and in others she leads a rebellion against him.
Llewellyn Beresford
Sylvie’s father and Lottie’s husband. He is a society painter until he falls down the stairs drunk and dies. In his wake, Sylvie and Lottie are left with massive debt.
Lottie Beresford
Sylvie’s mother and Llewellyn’s wife. She is a very conservative woman. When Llewellyn dies, she and Sylvie are left with massive debt, and Lottie quickly dies of consumption afterward.
Mr. Winton
An amateur painter who is able to rescue Pamela and Ursula from drowning in the ocean at the beach. In another timeline, he is unable to save Roland from drowning.
Major Shawcross
A neighbor of Hugh and Sylvie’s, and the father of Nancy and Millie Shawcross.
Clarence Dodds
Bridget’s fiancé, who had been severely injured in World War I. In many timelines, he accompanies Bridget to the armistice celebrations and dies of the flu.
Mrs. Haddock
The town midwife who is unable to reach Fox Corner to deliver Ursula because of the snow.
Ursula’s niece, and Pamela and Harold’s youngest child and their only daughter.
Hugh and Izzie’s mother, who is very conservative and refuses to see her daughter after she becomes pregnant at sixteen.
Hilde Brenner
One of Klara’s younger sisters (the other being Hanne), who is in the girls’ equivalent of the Hitler Youth.
Hanne Brenner
One of Klara’s younger sisters (the other being Hilde), who is in the girls’ equivalent of the Hitler Youth.
Frau Brenner
The mother of the host family Ursula stays with in Germany. Her daughters are Klara, Hilde, and Hanne.
Herr Brenner
The father of the host family Ursula stays with in Germany. His daughters are Klara, Hilde, and Hanne.
Pamela and Harold’s oldest son, and Ursula’s nephew.
Maurice’s wife.
Sam Wellington
A beau of Bridget’s who dies in World War I.
Mrs. Dodds
Clarence Dodds’s mother.
Old Tom
The Todds’ gardener.