Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Best of Literary Friendships

Who doesn't love a good friend...a bosom companion...a kindred spirit...someone from the race that knows Joseph? I've been tossing about the idea of a literary friendships post for a long time, and this morning I collected quite a list of both famous and little known friendships that I've come across over my years of reading.

Earlier this year I did a post on sidekicks; and while that may sound similar, it isn't quite. Sidekick implies a subordinate position to the main character seeking to accomplish their goal. But most friends are on equal levels, equally needed by each other.

Here are some things that literary friendships share in common: they lift each other up; they support during the tough times; they persevere through disagreements; they hold fast when life takes them different directions; they share laughter and life experiences together; they forgive each other when either does wrong; and they stand fast in battle together. Heart beats with heart, hand clasps hand, and a special camaraderie of work, pleasures, and Christian fellowship binds them together.

Friendship is very different from romance or family ties. It is something set apart--something rather indefinable, that everyone longs to have.

What kills me is that some of my favorite friendships haven't been published yet. Oh, well. :P

*Many of the book titles in parenthesis have been reviewed on the blog, and you can find them under the Book Reviews tab or through the search bar on the side.

Friendships between Man and Woman
Jane Dalmain and Sir Dereck Brand (The Rosary)
A favorite. While neither was a possible love interest for the other, when Jane needed a man's help she knew she would find a sympathetic and sensitive strength in Doctor Brand. He sometimes told her hard truths, but in the most gentle and up building kind of way.

Tess and Leinad (Kingdom's Dawn)
Good folkies. Stalwart couple, that had much to offer each other.

Jamie and Little Scout (The Keeper of the Bees)
While Jamie was several decades older than Little Scout, they were both sweet friends, and it goes to show that friendships can span several ages. Little Scout needed someone to help him/her come to grips with their identity, and Jamie stood in good stead to do that. (Little Scout's gender is a secret, so I'm not telling...)

Frytha and Bjorn (The Shield Ring)
I love them. From childhood to adulthood, Bjorn was exactly what Frytha needed, and Frytha gentled him and supported him as only a sweet and steadfast woman can do. She and Bjorn saw fire and death together, and overcame.

Friendships between Woman and Woman
Anne and Diana (Anne of Green Gables)
Kindred spirits. An experience every Junior High girl longs to have, and legendary in literary history. I loved the stories they wrote...the summer vacations...the desk at school...the loves and hates and fangirling and experiences. They're a classic.

Ada Clare and Esther Summerson (Bleak House)
Between Esther's wisdom and Ada's sweetness, they filled a void in each other's life that sorrow had given them, and steadied and cheered each other wonderfully.

Linda and Marion (Her Father's Daughter)
It's not every friend who would make up a sweetheart to comfort you, nor is it every friend who would forgive you for doing so.

Emma and Harriet (Emma)
Who could leave them out of a friendship post? Besides, Mr. Knightley, of course it's of benefit. Harriet will--will help Emma--read more.

Anne and her circle of friends at college (Anne of the Island)
Paddy's Place. The cats. The meals. The suitors on Friday nights. Aunt Jamesina. Gossip and books and headaches and parties and letters and scolding and fun.

Jane Stuart and Jody Turner (Jane of Lantern Hill)
I loved them very much. And I'm glad that Jane's search for happiness included a lovely bit of happiness for Jody as well.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”   ~Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

Friendships between Man and Man

Turin and Beleg (The Children of Hurin)

Kendrick and Duncan (Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione)
This is a classic pairing of introverted, cautious knight, and extroverted, foolhardy assistant that rings true and strong and makes every reader fond of them.

Richard Hannay and Peter Pienaar (Mr. Standfast)
Though we never know much about Peter, Richard hints that he and Peter had a past together, and Richard had a high respect for Peter's opinions. Both were talented, level-headed secret agents that knew how to do their work and did it well.

Arthur Clennam and Daniel Doyce (Little Dorrit)
Neither of them terribly young, they turned a business partnership into a close friendship. It's even more wonderful in the Little Dorrit movie than in the book.

Chebron and Amuba (The Cat of Bubastes)
Their relationships quickly grew from master and slave to friend and friend. Worthy of each other's good opinion, and steadfast and persevering in adversity.

Malcolm and Blue Peter (The Marquis' Secret)
There's always that one friend whom you can call at the last minute, and they will go to the ends of the earth with you. Every time Malcolm needed Blue Peter's strength, advice, and companionship, the gruff old fisherman never failed to come through.

Osca and Diarmid (The High Deeds of Finn MacCool, by Rosemary Sutcliff)
A part of Irish legend and mythology, these two young warriors under Finn MacCool are guaranteed to tie your heartstrings and take your breath away. I love them.

Gibbie and Donal (The Baronet's Song, a.k.a. Sir Gibbie)
I loved Donal teaching Gibbie how to read, and Gibbie helping him with the cattle so Donal could get in some reading time...

Danny and Reuven (The Chosen)
Two boys from different denominations of Judaism, they spent their highschool years supporting each other through tough societal and family situations. While there's some language, and the advice they give each other isn't always perfect, I found much to ponder in this book and their friendship.

Alan Breck and Davie (Kidnapped)
The classic combination. Vain Scottish Allan and practical young Davie. I was never happier than in the weeks they spent escaping through the heather. I think I compare every literary friendship to "Is it as good as Davie and Allan?" :)

"Alan," cried I, "what makes ye so good to me? What makes ye care for such a thankless fellow?"

Deed, and I don't, know" said Alan. "For just precisely what I thought I liked about ye, was that ye never quarreled:—and now I like ye better!"                
~Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Friendships Between Animals

Pooh and Piglet (Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner)

So Wherever I am, there's always Pooh
There's always Pooh and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
"If it wasn't for you." And Pooh said: "True.
It isn't much fun for One but Two
Can stick together," says Pooh, says he.
"That's how it is," says Pooh.
~Now We Are Six, "Us Two," by A.A. Milne

Water Rat and Mole (The Wind in the Willows)

The Water Rat and Mole have always been near and dear to my heart as far as animal stories go. I love Mole keeping Water Rat from running off to sea, and Water Rat insisting that they must visit Mole's house as soon as he discovers that Mole has been homesick for it.

“It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment.”  
~The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Some people argue that friendships are not necessary in life. I would strongly disagree. We see friendships in Scripture, and it's such a recurring, resonating theme in literature that it is obviously an intrinsic and necessary part of our interactions in the body of Christ. Good friends, when they spur one another on towards love and good deeds, and deeper knowledge of their Savior, are a vital and healthy part of life.

I am blessed to have good friends as worthy and true-hearted as any of these mentioned here today. Many thanks to all of you, from the bottom of my heart, who have blessed me by being a faithful kindred spirit.

Are there any you would add to this list? I'd love to know!

Lady Bibliophile


  1. I was thinking when you mentioned Pooh and Piglet that not only were those two good friends, but also Christopher Robin and Pooh were. And Tigger and Roo. ;)
    The only other one I could think of was Pip and Herbert, but you already mentioned them in your sidekicks post. I loved the other ones you picked- Especially Frytha and Bjorn and the ones from the Kingdom Series. :D Some of them I haven't read, but they sound very nice. ;)

    And you've got to admit-Alan did need Davie a lot. :P


    1. Yes! I had Tigger and Roo on my list, but they got cut at the last minute. :) They were excellent friends, as was Christopher Robin.

      And the friends we said this morning. <3 :') Only I'm going to write them down for the Unlikely Heroes post.

      There are so many good friends in literature, I just love them all. The best books have good friends in them, I think--the sword brothers and school chums that populate the world of imagination. They are beautiful and heart-stirring.

      Thank-you for commenting, Junior B!

      Much Love,

  2. Dear Lady B.,

    I can't believe more people haven't commented on this. This was so enjoyable! I liked several of the friendships you mentioned, most particularly Diarmid and Osca, Alan and Davie, Gibbie and Donal, and Pooh and Piglet. :)

    I came up with a list of my own. It is by no means complete, but these are a bunch of favorites off the top of my head (listed by author):

    Rosemary Sutcliff:
    Phaedrus and Conory (The Mark of the Horse Lord)
    Hugh and Jonathan (Brother Dusty-Feet)
    Lovel and Rahere (The Witch's Brat)
    Jestyn and Thormod (Blood Feud)
    Justin and Flavius (The Silver Branch)

    J.R.R. Tolkien:
    Frodo and Sam (The Lord of the Rings)
    Gimli and Galadriel (The Lord of the Rings)
    Fingon and Maedhros (The Silmarillion)
    Finrod and Beren (The Silmarillion)

    Charlotte Yonge:
    Prince Edward and Richard Montfort (The Prince and the Page)
    Esclairemond and Malcolm (The Caged Lion)
    James, Henry, and John (The Caged Lion)

    Legend/Myth/Heroic Epic Poetry:
    Roland and Oliver (The Song of Roland)
    Beowulf and Wiglaf (The Beowulf)
    Achilles and Patroclus (The Iliad)
    Hector and Polydamas (The Iliad)
    Robin Hood and Little John (The Robin Hood stories)

    Lucy and Mr. Tumnus (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
    Ralph Percy and Jeremy Sparrow (To Have and to Hold)
    Karin and the Professor (For Love of a Donkey)
    Peter Pan and Wendy (Peter Pan)
    Michael and Tom (Master Cornhill)
    Father Tim and Miss Sadie (The Mitford Series)

    Every one of these friendships are special and beautiful. I could never choose a favorite.

    Thanks so much!

    ~the Philologist

    1. Why thank-you for commenting. :) I actually had a couple of comments by text, one from E.H. included. :) But they did not appear on the blog, as they were in private chats.

      I always love seeing what people add, because I generally forget some very obvious ones. Gimli and Galadriel, Lucy and Mr. Tumnus, Ralph Percy and Jeremy Sparrow, Father Tim and Miss Sadie. They are all such dears. I loved Gimli asking for one strand of Galadriel's hair, and Lucy taking tea with Mr. Tumnus, and especially Ralph and Jeremy in the hold of the ship together when they were in chains and Jeremy treated him so tenderly.

      Mustn't forget Legolas and Gimli, either--the fact that they each bridged the gap of culture prejudices, one to visit the caves in Helm's Deep and one to see the beauty of the Forest--that truly was beautiful, even if it's more of a comic relief in the film versions.

      I love Fingon and Maedhros, but I can't remember Finrod. It's terrible--there's just a complete blank there.

      This list is wonderful, and I see I have a lot more friends yet to meet! That's a wonderful feeling, that there are so many more just around the corner....


  3. That is a lovely post, Schuyler - I lost my comment, sadly, I think :( but I will try re-commenting in the morning, Lord willing! :)

    1. Aw, bummer. I always hate it when that happens, too. :(

  4. This is a lovely collection of friendships from literature, Schuyler. While not exclusive, this list includes some of my real favourites! I love Frytha and Bjorn - their friendship in The Shield Ring is so special. Anne and Diana are a delightful example of kindred spirits, aren't they. As for Emma and Harriet, I have to smile at that friendship :D I spent my time so mad at the pair of them throughout the book - somehow I think the real closer friendship was between Emma and her governess Miss Taylor - that friendship was much deeper and more intimate I think :).

    Your mentioning Sir Kendrick and Sir Duncan reminds me of Drew Carter and Benjamin Berg in "Cloak of the Light" which I just finished today. Those two are special friends as well, I think. I am so glad you mentioned Alan and Davie - they are such dears! While i did not think of Arthur and Daniel in Little Dorrit before, yes, they were truly brotherly partners! And Turin and Beleg. Can I cry now, please? :'(

    It is interesting how you have listed the friendships that are of those on equal footings in their relationships. There are so many that are built on variances in class, denomination, race and culture - of course Tolkien is a great example of such friendships like Legolas and Gimli, Frodo and Sam; and with Rosemary Sutcliff's stories she has many stories with friendships between master/slave, etc.

    Lovely post, Schuyler! I really enjoyed this post ^_^.
    Lots of love,

  5. You know, Ben and Drew from Cloak of the Light are very interesting, because they're nonChristian friends. Rather like the two boys I referenced in The Chosen--Danny and Reuven. :) That's interesting, because it shows that all people are created in God's image, and can bear great brotherly love for each other even if they're not saved--yet at the same time, you see a dynamic lacking with Ben and Drew, and that is Christ's brotherly love. I look forward to seeing it develop in the series as both young men grow in character.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for going the extra mile to comment, Joy. :) It was a blessing!



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