Friday, June 19, 2015

Best of Literary Fathers

Welcome to the last Best Of post on My Lady Bibliophile! I couldn't let Father's Day pass without making a list of my favorite fathers (and father figures) in literature. :)

Fathers don't seem to do better than mothers in literature. If they aren't murdered in terrible accidents, they generally die of illness with the wife and daughters gathered around. Those who do live are often incapable or prone to excessive bursts of anger. But surprisingly enough, there are a lot of good fathers and father-figures in literature. It didn't take me long to come up with a list of them.

*Many titles in parentheses can be found under the Book Reviews tab.

Doctor Gibson (Wives and Daughters)--He's one of our favorite literary dads around here. We love his relationship with Molly. But he had strange taste in stepmothers.
Mr. Meagles (Little Dorrit)--A warmhearted friend and doting father. Played by the same actor as Doctor Gibson in the BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit.
Andrew Stuart (Jane of Lantern Hill)--Janekin. The ship's clock. Laughing eyes and poetry and a rattle-bang car. Kenneth Howard. I loved him.
Simon Garth (Middlemarch)--He knew the man his daughter loved had some growing up to do. Instead of alienating him, Simon Garth helped him grow up so they could marry each other. Now there's the way to handle a courtship.
Mr Dinsmore--Naysayers howl away and go read the later books. He mellows out wonderfully, and reading about Elsie and her dad with my own father was a wonderful part of my childhood.
John Farrier (A Study in Scarlet)--I know he's rather out of the way, but I always loved him for defending his adopted daughter from being forced into a polygamous marriage. We still quote his famous line: "There are two ways out of this room--the door or the window. Which do you prefer?" :)
Sandy M'Keithe (Crown and Covenant Trilogy)--A bulwark of wisdom in a time of strife. His main goal was to serve King Jesus during the slaughter of the Scottish Covenanters.
John Whittier (Pollyanna)--We never see him alive in the book. But his careful instruction and optimistic legacy of the Glad Game comforted his little girl for years after his death.
Elrond (Lord of the Rings)--Don't judge him based on the movie-Arwen, I beg you. The books are heaps better in regards to that relationship.
Richard Adams (Queen Sheba's Ring)--It's not every man who would endure slavery, capture, thirst, starvation, and long treks across Africa in hope of finding his lost son.
Ameres (The Cat of Bubastes)--A pagan priest thirsty for one true God to worship. His life was a noble one.
Duncan (The Fisherman's Lady)--Who couldn't love his funny, bittersweet hatred of Campbells, and his poor, blind piping?
James Douglas (The Lady of the Lake)--I love his stalwart Highland soul. I also love his daughter and son-in-law.
Mr. Stanton (Laddie: A True, Blue Story)--A tender husband, a wise father, and a visionary neighbor. If you want to learn how everyday living can be visionary for the kingdom of God, meet Mr. Stanton.
Dr. Strong--Another man whom we never meet living, he taught his daughter Linda to love the land and live clean. His influence guided her throughout her life.

Father Figures 
Mr. McLean (Freckles)--If you've read the book, you know. If you haven't, you need to.
Sir Ector (Pendragon's Heir)--I love his weakness for three volume novels. :) He is a watchman for Camelot, guarding one of its treasures while waiting for the summons to come home.
Jean Valjean (Les Miserables)--Lifted out of his pit of despair, he rescued Cosette from becoming like her mother and raised her up to a position of love and prosperity. I don't endorse Les Mis for a variety of worldview flaws, but I do appreciate Valjean's redemption of this little girl.
Dr. Alec (Eight Cousins)--he's probably one of my favorites, next to Andrew Stuart. Rose's guardian in the middle of several hilariously opinionated aunts, he helps her grow up strong in body and mind.
Mr. Jarndyce (Bleak House)--He made that house anything but bleak, and showed that loving sacrifice does not have to mean self-pity and despair.

Real-Life Fathers 
A.A. Milne--If you've never read the introductions to the Pooh books, you've missed a treat. A.A. Milne was a tender husband and an imaginative father. He won his boy's heart forever through the Hundred Acre Woods.
Charles Ingalls--A pioneer who took his family hither and yon. I loved his "Pop Goes the Weasel" and "Half Pint".
Georg Von Trapp--Georg was brave in the navy, and endured the loss of his first wife and the loss of living in his dear Austria. He found happiness with Maria and provided a new haven for his blended family in America.
Father Ten Boom --His words of wisdom, love for the Jews, and love for people in general really shine in Corrie's accounts. A giant of the faith.

Any fathers you'd like to add to this list? I'm light on Tolkien, especially, but any genre is more than welcome! :)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my own father, who bought me so many books growing up and required visionary blogging of his children. Without him, neither this blog nor my extensive library would be what they are.

PS. Want more Father's Day reading? Check out Why Every Girl Needs a Daddy, from Sense and Sensibility.


  1. Yes, Georg Von Trapp was one of my favourites.
    That's quite an extensive list too - I'll have to look some of the others up. :)

    1. We love his character arc in Sound of Music. Our favorite moment is at the end of the movie, when he orders Liesl out of the room and then gives her a little pat as an afterthought. It shows how far he's mellowed out, and how much of an introvert he still is. :)

  2. *waves frantically* My absolute FAVORITE father (other than my own, of course) is Atticus Finch, from To Kill A Mockingbird. He was so awesome!!!! <3
    And also Denethor from Lord of the Rings, except he was an idiot.

    1. *waves back* Hey there!

      I've heard so many good things of To Kill a Mockingbird. I can't wait to read it soon, especially with the sequel coming out. :)

  3. Can't forget Bilbo as father-figure to Frodo!!

    Tam al'Thor from Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series is an excellent father character, who actually survives till the end of the series. Which is impressive in and of itself.

    King Arnaud from my own series is a very good father.

    Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci character is a good father and father-figure, though a bit absent minded at times. He's sharp as a tack when he needs to be.

    Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter series is a very good dad.

    Jonathan Kent from the Superman story is always portrayed as kind of the "perfect" father.

    1. Yes, Bilbo! And I loved Bard's strong fatherhood in the Hobbit movies as well. They added it extra, but it was so beautifully portrayed, and that's not always done in modern movies.

      I haven't read these others, so I see I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks so much for sharing! :D

  4. I don't believe it's Father's Day in Australia yet (ours is in September :P), but I really enjoyed this collection of best literary fathers that you collected, Schuyler. Especially as it was my Dad's birthday this month, and I've been reflecting on the importance of godly fathers a lot lately.

    It's interesting, really, that most of these fathers are in no way perfect, exemplary father's, and yet, they almost all of them have something special, something loving, caring and fatherly in their character and nature and relationship with their children that is so special to read about.

    Not many dads in literature actually live up to the bestness of my dad, which is always such a blessing when you read about a good dad, but you don't feel jealous of that character's father because your own dad is even better in your eyes ;).

    Besides the ones you mentioned, some other dads that spring to mind would be Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird" - now, he's not a perfect dad, and because he's a widower, he can often appear absent-minded or distracted from what his children are doing (usually he is actually very much aware!), and sometimes he can be quite lenient on their mischievousness, but on the whole he just loves them so deeply, and cares about their well-being, what kind of example his life is to them!

    Jenelle mentioned Bilbo as a father-figure, and I think he's just fantastic. Ooh, and I really loved Aquila from "The Lantern Bearers" by Rosemary Sutcliff, and his struggle to win his son's heart and respect. Loved that!

    Casper Ten Boom is indeed one of my favourite real-life fathers!
    P.S. I think J.R.R. Tolkien, even with all his eccentricities and perfectionism, must have been a pretty interesting, cool dad to have - I mean he used to read to his kids "The Hobbit", and write "Father Christmas Letters" to them, and when reading the collected letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, I love how so many of them are written to his children.

    1. I picked up The Lantern Bearers at our state homeschool convention. Can't wait to read it now at your mention! And yes, I can't wait to meet Atticus, too. :) Widowers have a lot of hard work, I think, especially raising children.

      It's sweet to see your love for your own dad, Joy! I too, love mine deeply. He is compassionate, a good listener, taught me a lot about loving people, and always is able to make people laugh. I'm glad you joined in on our American Father's Day. ;D

    2. PS. And Tolkien! The envy of children's bedtime stories, eh? :D It's easy to see what kind of father he was based on how highly his son thinks of him.

  5. Mr. Gibson and Dr Alec were two of my favourites.Also liked Charles Ingalls and Georg Von Trapp.

    I would add Clark Davis from the Love Comes Softly series

  6. My favorites as well! I'm reading about Charles Ingalls right now, and he makes me smile. :)


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