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September 1, 2009

A Compendium of Literary Harriets

For my own interest, and compilation will be ongoing. Please feel free to add to the list via comments:
1) A Big Storm Knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin: Harriet aka “Birdie”
2) Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce: Harriet Bartholomew aka Hatty
3) Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: Harriet M. Welch
4) Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox: Harriet Harris
5) Garbo Laughs by Elizabeth Hay: Harriet Browning
6) The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers: Harriet Vane
7) The Gates of Ivory by Margaret Drabble: Harriet Osborne
8) Harriet Bean series by Alexander McCall Smith: Harriet Bean
9) Emma by Jane Austen: Harriet Smith
10) Coventry by Helen Humphreys: Harriet Marsh
11) Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: Harriet de Luce (in spirit)
12) The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing: Harriet Lovett
13) “Harriet” (poem)by Charlie McKenzie: Harriet Michaels. (In the film So I Married an Axe Murderer, so this is a fictional literary Harriet).
14) Franklin the Turtle series by Paulette Bourgeois: Harriet the Turtle (Franklin’s sister).
15) The Little Friend by Donna Tartt: Harriet Dufresnes
16) Harriet and the Garden by Nancy Carlson: Harriet (who is a dog)
17) The Colour by Rose Tremain: Harriet Blackstone
18) Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym: Harriet Bede
19) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson: Harriet Vanger
20) Mr. King’s Things by Genevieve Cote: Harriet the Owl (who was named for my Harriet!!)
21) After Claude by Iris Owens: Harriet (who has no last name)

8 thoughts on “A Compendium of Literary Harriets”

  1. Kate S. says:

    One of my favourite literary Harriets is Harriet Vane who appears in several of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. The best, and best known, of these is Gaudy Night in which she eclipses Wimsey to become the main character.

  2. meli-mello says:

    If you come across any Moiras let me know – I haven't had any luck finding one. 🙂

  3. Miss Grondin says:

    Harriet Osborne — The Gates of Ivory by Margaret Drabble. I am currently reading, so I am not sure yet if this a flattering Harriet or not.


  4. Anonymous says:

    The Cowgirl Aunt of Harriet Bean (Harriet Bean Series) by Alexander McCall Smith, Laura Rankin (Illustrator)


  5. meli-mello says:

    Oh, and I got the lead in a school play in Grade 7 about the digestive system: Harriet the Hamburger. My job was to go through the digestive system and explain how each part functioned. You probably don't want to add that to your bookshelf though as I don't remember it because particularly well written. However, after that all the grade 8 and 9's thought my name was Harriet.

  6. patricia says:

    Oh and there is a Harriet in 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' – Flavia's mother, who though not a living character in the story, is still a very strong presence, on account of her fascinating exploits in her past.

  7. patricia says:

    How could I forget Harriet Dufresnes from Donna Tartt’s ‘The Little Friend’?? You must read this one. Here’s a little description of the novel:

    “12-year-old Harriet-smart, stubborn, willful – is as vivid as a torchlight. Like many preadolescents, she’s fascinated by secrets. She vows to solve the mystery of her brother’s death and unmask the killer, whom she decides, without a shred of evidence, is Danny Ratliff, a member of a degenerate, redneck family of hardened criminals.”

    It is dark and delicious and full of suspense, with lots of fascinating characters (who doesn’t love a collection of old Southern great aunts?) For me, it was riveting, from beginning to the very edge-of-my-seat end.

  8. Kerry says:

    You’re so right, Patricia! I read The Little Friend in 2002, when Harriets meant less to me, but she is a worthy addition to this list.

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