Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who share my name

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl, is a ‘Character Freebie’ (any topic of our choice that deals with book characters).

I thought it might be fun to list some characters who have the same name as me (Helen). I wondered whether I would be able to think of ten, but it turned out to be easier than I expected – in fact, I could have included more!

1. Helen Burns – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The saintly Helen Burns was Jane’s best friend at Lowood School and although her role in the novel is short and tragic, she has a lasting influence on Jane’s life.

2. Helen Irvine – Fair Helen by Andrew Greig

Helen of Kirkconnel Lea was the heroine of a famous ballad and her story is told in this beautifully written historical fiction novel.

3. Helen of Mar – The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter

The daughter of the Earl of Mar, Lady Helen falls in love with Scottish hero William Wallace in Jane Porter’s 1809 novel.

4. Helen Franklin – Melmoth by Sarah Perry

This secretive Helen becomes fascinated by the story of Melmoth the Witness and discovers that the legend holds a personal significance.

5. Helen Schlegel – Howards End by E.M. Forster

The younger and more impulsive and passionate of the two Schlegel sisters in Forster’s classic novel.

6. Helen of Troy – For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

I’m sure this famous Helen needs no introduction!

7. Helen Fong – China Dolls by Lisa See

One of three young women who become friends after meeting at an audition for dancers at a San Francisco nightclub in 1938.

8. DCI Helen Rowley – Sacrifice and the Lacey Flint series by Sharon Bolton

A recurring, though minor, character throughout Bolton’s Lacey Flint series (as Dana Tulloch’s partner) and also has a bigger role to play in the standalone novel Sacrifice.

9. Helen Giniver – The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

This Helen is one of several characters whose lives and relationships are explored in Sarah Waters’ World War II novel.

10. Helen Huntingdon – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

A Brontë character started my list so another Brontë character will finish it! Written in diary format, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall describes Helen Huntingdon’s marriage to an abusive, drunken husband.


Can you think of any other literary Helens? Are there any fictional characters who share your own name?

38 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who share my name

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I’m lucky that there are lots of characters with my name, otherwise I couldn’t have used this topic for the freebie week. Maybe there is a character with your name, in a book you just haven’t read yet!

  1. BookerTalk says:

    I’m rather envious of all those characters who share your name. I can’t think of a single one for my name Karen (sob) . Or maybe you know of one. I won’t be greedy. Just one would be nice …

    • Helen says:

      I have to admit, I can’t think of any either, but I’m sure there must be some. We obviously just haven’t been reading the right books!

    • Melita Kennedy says:


      I’ve just been reading some stories that include a character named Karen! The People stories by Zenna Henderson are fantasy, set in the early to mid 20th century in the southwest. They’re about humanoid aliens whose world is destroyed and are trying to adapt to earth. Very…human, heart-warming stories. Hard to find as there are no ebook versions.

  2. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

    This is such a fun twist on this week’s topic! I really need to cross The Night Watch off my TBR. The BBC did a fantastic adaptation of Howards End a couple of years ago with Hayley Atwell – I recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      As well as the obvious one, I’m sure one of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven was called Pam. I can’t think of any others at the moment!

  3. Café Society says:

    I’d never made the link between the character in Bolton’s Lacey Flint series and Sacrifice. I shall have to go back and do a re-read. I wish she would give us more of the Lacey Flint novels. I don’t think her more recent one offs have been anything like as good.

    • Helen says:

      Dana and Helen are recurring characters in Sacrifice and the Lacey Flint series but I don’t think they appear in any other books. I hope Bolton decides to return to Lacey Flint at some point in the future too. I do enjoy the standalones but I felt there was still a lot of potential in that series.

    • Helen says:

      Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are my favourite books from the list, but I think Helen from The Night Watch is my favourite Helen. I found her story very emotional.

  4. piningforthewest says:

    The only one I can think of for my name (Katrina) is R.L. Stevenson’s Catriona although he gave her the Gaelic spelling.

    • Helen says:

      Last year I read Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie and there was a Scottish character called Catriona in that book too. I can’t think of any with your spelling, though. I’m sure there must be some.

    • Melita Kennedy says:

      A cousin of Gen, Eugenides, of the Queen’s Thief series is Queen of Eddis. Although it’s set in an alternative Mediterranean area, she jokes about her name being inappropriate as she’s charismatic not beautiful.

      Helen Clyde from the Inspector Lynley / Sgt Havers series by Elizabeth George. I was so angry at the misery the author puts the characters through that I quit reading them after 13 books.

      The only character with my name that I know of is Melita Pargeter by Simon Brett. I haven’t read any of them.

      • Helen says:

        I haven’t read any of those books, but it’s good to hear about some more literary Helens! Melita is a lovely name. I haven’t come across any characters with that name (and haven’t read the Simon Brett series), but I will look out for any Melitas in my future reading. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I think Susan is a nice name. Sorry you don’t like it! The only fictional Susan I can think of is the one from the Narnia series, but I’m sure there will be more!

  5. Calmgrove says:

    The only Helen I can think of off the top of my head is Elen in the medieval Welsh tale ‘The Dream of Macsen Wledig’ — in this St Helen is given a romantic British origin as the wife of a pretender Roman emperor Magnus Maximus, mother of Constantine, who historically discovered what she claimed was the cross of the Crucifixion outside Jerusalem. There’s no mention of the Christian associations of the patron saint of archaeology in the British tale however, in which the beauteous Elen is seen in a dream by the emperor, who then comes to Britain to woo her.

    As for ‘Chris’ in novels, I regret to say I can’t think of a single one!

    • Helen says:

      I’m not familiar with that Welsh story, so thank you for the information about it. I can’t think of many fictional characters called Chris either! There’s Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh, of course, but that’s all I can come up with at the moment.

      • Calmgrove says:

        Of course, Christopher Robin! For some pre-teen birthday I got ‘The World of Christopher Robin’ collection of poetry (changing guards at Buckingham Palace, King John who does like a bit of butter with his bread, Alexander beetle and so on), though I never could much stand the kid himself.

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! I can’t think of any characters called Sandra either, but I’m sure there must be some and I’ll look out for them in my future reading. 🙂

  6. Judy Krueger says:

    I once read a great historical novel about Judith from the Apocryphal Bible. It was called Judith and I loved reading about my biblical namesake. I don’t remember the author’s name.

    • Helen says:

      Well, it would be nice to say that I was as perfect as Helen Burns, or as beautiful as Helen of Troy, but sadly I am neither. 🙂 I’m not really like any of the ten, but I did feel the closest connection with Helen from The Night Watch.

  7. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I love your twist on this freebie and there are some great characters with your name! Sadly, I can’t think of any books I have read with a character called Jessica. I know there is a Jessica in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, because that is where Jessica, the anglicised version of Ishka, is believed to have first been written down.

    • Helen says:

      Apart from The Merchant of Venice, the only books I can think of that had a character called Jessica were the Sweet Valley High books I used to read when I was a teenager. I will have to look out for any more fictional Jessicas!

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