Who are your favorite fictional Episcopalians?

Here’s a topic for a Sunday night: who are your favorite fictional Episcopalians? The question came to me recently when I was reading The Darkest Mission, an espionage novel by an old college friend Rick Burton, who is now on the faculty at Syracuse University. The book is set during World War II, and an Episcopal priest plays a key role.


Make your nominations in the comments, and, if you are of a mind, talk a little bit about the role that the character’s faith plays in his or her life.

Let’s make a list.

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32 Comments
  1. Ann Fontaine

    Actually Anglicans from the Barbara Pym novels — I like them because their live revolve around everyday church events like rummage sales (I forget what they are called in England). Seems like very practical theology.

  2. Dale McNeill

    Hmmm. Peter Wimsey, of course, though he’s not a very churchy Anglican.

    The Rev’d Clare Fergusson, in the Julia Spencer-Fleming mysteries.

    The characters in Absolute Truths and the other Susan Howatch novels.

    The Rev’d Margaret Bonner in Gail Godwin’s Evensong and the same character in Father Melancholy’s Daughter.

  3. Ann Fontaine

    Good ones Dale — also the priest in the Nevada Barr mysteries who is married to Anna Pigeon. And not a fictional character but Nevada Barr herself in Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat.

  4. Ronald Caldwell

    Don’t forget Jan Karon’s Father Tim and the charming cast of characters in Mitford. I know it is nothing serious, just a good escapist read of endearing people who are the salt of the earth. We all wish we lived in Mitford.

  5. Linda Ryan

    Lord Peter Wimsey — understands and participates in change ringing and is known to read in church and carry a prayer book.

    And ok, it may sound hokey, but I do like Father Tim in Jan Karon’s books.

  6. Does it ruin this thread if we talk about real priests who play characters in movies?

    Lan Green

  7. Ann Fontaine

    Go for it Lan!

  8. Ken Robinson

    The Bishop and Father Hilary from Elswyth Thane’s novels, The Bishop’s Mantle, etc…

  9. Jesse Snider

    Does the Vicar of Dibley count?

  10. Jim Naughton

    If we are including Anglicans, then Thomas Cromwell in the Hilary Mantel novels and Matthew Shardlake in CJ Sansom’s mysteries.

  11. Steve Price

    Without a doubt :

    Edith Bunker

  12. Karen Byers

    Jon and Nicholas Darrow are among my favorites

  13. Rick Burton

    I know I’ve been influenced by Paul McCusker’s Father Gilbert series. The audio books for this material is quite good.

  14. Beth Reed

    I’d add Alice Fletcher and Carter Graham to the favorite Susan Howatch characters.

  15. Pepper Marts

    C.C. Benison’s Tom Christmas, vicar of the parish at Thornton Regis.

    Pepper Marts

  16. barbara snyder

    I didn’t really realize there were novels that had Episcopalians in them.

    I did know that Batman is supposed to be one – maybe he’s lapsed? – so Batman for me, I guess.

  17. Kraut1701

    Bruce Wayne for me, as well. If we’re including Anglicans, then Fr. Adam Smallbone from “Rev.”

    Morris Post

  18. Pmgentry

    I just finished Jeffrey Eugenides’s most recent novel, “The Marriage Plot.” One of the main characters, Madeline Hanna, is referenced several times as an Episcopalian. Alas, this is noted by the author largely as evidence of her upper-class shabby-genteel family background.

  19. rick allen

    And there was Doris, the protagonist’s wife in Walker Percy’s “Love in the Ruins,” though a long-lapsed Episcopalian:

    “My poor wife, Doris, was ruined by books, by books and a heathen Englishman, not by dirty books but by clean books, not by depraved books but by spiritual books. God, if you recall, did not warn his people against dirty books. He warned them against high places. My wife, who began life as a cheerful Episcopalian from Virginia, became a priestess of the high places.”

  20. Rob Huttmeyer

    If we are including Anglicans that Miss Jane Marple will need to be there.

  21. Well, if we are talking about Anglicans who appear as characters in fiction, then my favourite Anglican should, perhaps, be me. Although in my brief cameo in The Brutal Heart (the 11th JOanne Kilbourne mystery by my friend Gail Bowen) doesn’t revolve around or identify me as being Anglican, it’s still me, and I am.

    That all said, there is Joanne Kilbourne herself. Although the series doesn’t particularly highlight her faith, there are passing references to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Regina and to her involvement there. My friend the former Dean makes a couple of cameos actually as the Dean.

    I used to follow the Kate Gallison series about MOther Lavinia Grey (aka “Father Vinnie), although I gather Gallison came to hate her creation, much as Christie camer to hate Poirot.

    I’ve also read two of the three Rev Lucas Holt mysteries by the late Rev Charles Meyer. That was my first introduction to the Episcopal Church standard (virtually unknown in Canada) Sing a Song of the Saints of God.

  22. Ann Fontaine

    My favorite in Africa is Precious Ramotswe in the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series by Aleander McCall Smith – he also feature Bishop Trevor Mwamba (not fictional) in his stories.

  23. Cathy Thirsk Stevens

    I believe many of Eugenia Price’s characters in her trilogy of Lighthouse, New Moon Rising, and Beloved Invader were Episcopalians – and can find some of the names in the cemetery of Christ Church on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia.

  24. E B

    Mark Brian from “I Heard the Owl Call My Name.” And his great line about preferring to come down on top of the roof of the vicarage, versus the other way around.

    Eric Bonetti

  25. Murdoch Matthew

    Aunt Dot and Father Hugh in The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay. The first sentence has joined “It was a dark and stormy night” in literary lore:

    “Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.”

    A Turkish woman doctor says in the book of Aunt Dot, “She is a woman of dreams. Mad dreams, dreams of crazy, impossible things. And they aren’t all of conversion to the Church, oh no. Nor all of the liberation of women, oh no. Her eyes are on far mountains, always some far peak where she will go. She looks so firm and practical, that nice face, so fair and plump and shrewd, but look in her eyes, you will sometimes catch a strange gleam.”

    Memory refreshed by Wiki, of course.

  26. Rev. Shirley Bowen

    I am shocked no one has mentioned the Liturgical Mystery series by Mark Schweizer. They are a hoot, and you learn a lot about church music. Much poking fun at ourselves. Highly recommend the whole series.

  27. Sridgcw

    I’ve just re-read John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany” — the Episcopal church in “Gravesend” and some of its denizens play a huge role. The story of the Christmas pageant, regardless of any theological implications, is laugh-out-loud funny to me.

    Sarah Ridgway

  28. Matthew Buterbaugh+

    I don’t know if it was my favorite character, but does anybody remember Zorak from “Space Ghost, Coast to Coast”?

    “Actually, I’m Episcopalian.”

  29. Surely Arthur Dent of Adams Hitchhiker’s Trilogy (all five books of it) was a member of the Church of England? And the lovely Trillian?

    (And yes, Matthew, I do remember Zorak; but I missed that comment.)

    Marshall Scott

  30. Norris Battin

    John Updike’s “A Month of Sundays”.

  31. Robin Margolis

    Two delightful dramedies (drama/comedies) about Anglican priests –“The Perpetual Curate” and “The Rector” — by Victorian novelist Margaret Oliphant.

    These two novels belong to her series set in an imaginary town, Carlingford, England, where CofE Anglican clergy and lay people are primary characters.

    The novels occur during the Tractarian movement era, when many parishes in UK and US became Anglo-Catholic.

    Both novels can be downloaded for free from http://www.archive.org.

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