Since I started writing about adoption, my brain seems to be hard-wired to literary tales of adoption. So here are my top 5 literary adoptees …I am still reading, so the list may change.
‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens: After the death of his parents, Pip is brought up by his sister and her husband.
“My sister, Mrs Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than I, and had established a great reputation with herself and the neighbours because she had brought me up ‘by hand’. Having at that time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.”
‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by JK Rowling: Harry, and his cupboard under the stairs, is probably the most famous literary orphan of modern times.
“We swore when we took him in we’d put a stop to that rubbish,” said Uncle Vernon, “swore we’d stamp it out of him! Wizard, indeed!”
‘Peter Pan’ by JM Barrie: Peter, the original Lost Boy.
“Don’t have a mother,” he [Peter] said. Not only had he no mother, but he had not the slightest desire to have one. He thought them very over-rated persons. Wendy, however, felt at once that she was in the presence of a tragedy.
‘When We Were Orphans’ by Kazuo Ishiguro: Christopher Banks is fascinated by the ‘well-connectedness’ of his fellow student Osbourne.
“… now I look back on it, it seems probable that at least some of my fascination with Osbourne’s ‘well-connectedness’ had to do with what I then perceived to be my complete lack of connection with the world beyond St Dunstan’s [their school].”
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte: Jane, probably the literary orphan who made the most impression on me as a teenage reader.
“I was a discord in Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage……..they were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at their treatment, of contempt at their judgement.”
Do you know of any other literary orphans? Have I missed out your favourite? If so, please let me know!
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
My top 5 literary adoptees from Jane Eyre to Harry Potter http://wp.me/p5gEM4-13F via @SandraDanby #books