Nine Girls’ Own Heart-Throbs – Plus One!

Literary crushes: We all have them. At least, I hope so, otherwise it’s just me and I’m going to look pretty stupid in a minute. However, I’ve heard the respective merits of Jem Russell and Jack Maynard discussed with passion, although no conclusive agreement has ever been reached (for the record, I prefer Jack of the two, but neither of them makes it onto my personal list). Sorry I don’t have pictures for everyone, but I did my best. I feel sure that many will disagree with my choices here – please feel free to comment below and fight the corner for your own particular favourite!


9. Neil Sheppard (Elinor Brent-Dyer, Chalet School series)

Neil’s entry here means that, most unfairly given her record in creating desirable men, Elinor Brent-Dyer has two characters on the list. But I had to put him in because he makes Grizel happy, which after fifty books and a hell of a hard life, I think she deserves.


8. Grant Rossiter (Jean Estoril, Drina series)

Grant is very lovely. He’s sensible and sweet, and waits patiently for Drina to decide she really does want to marry him. But he doesn’t get a higher spot on here, because…well, he’s just not very interesting. None of those dark-blue sparkling eyes and sensitive musician’s fingers. Sorry, Grant.


7. Dickon Sowerby (Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden)

He tames animals and takes birds and foxes around with him. He brings gardens to life and makes people happy and alive again. Need I say more?


6. Fatty (Enid Blyton, Five Find-Outers series)

Frederick Algernon Trotteville – I love him for many reasons. He can disguise himself perfectly as anyone from a waxwork of Napoleon to an elderly gipsy woman. He’s quite intelligent, a tiny bit up himself and can spout doggerel poetry as though pouring water from a jug. Also, when the other Find-Outers are mean to Bets and laugh at her, Fatty is always kind and encouraging, which is something that always appeals to me.


5. Tom Dudgeon (Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons series)

Because, frankly, he’s awesome. He sails in a no-nonsense, I’ve-done-this-all-my-life-and-this-is-the-way-life-is way and boats are pretty much the centre of his life. Yet he sacrifices his boats-are-all-important principles to save a coot’s nest across which a large and obnoxious motor cruiser has moored. Also, despite being the oldest in the Coot Club, the doctor’s son and very much the one in charge, he isn’t bossy or annoying, and he facilitates Dorothea in her detecting admirably and is entirely unthreatened by her magnificence. I am convinced that they ended up together.


4. Patrick Merrick (Antonia Forest, Marlows series)

I really like Patrick. Partly because all of Antonia Forest’s characters are so brilliantly drawn that it’s almost impossible not to believe in them as real people (I do suffer from Fiction Confusion quite badly), but also because I just like him. He’s interesting and intelligent and has fabulous, slightly eccentric hobbies such as falconry. I also like the way he’s happy to talk completely openly about his religion – he’s from a strongly Catholic family. My only gripe with Patrick is – why Ginty?


3. Teddy Kent (L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon series)

She thought Teddy could have whistled her clear across the world with those three magic notes.

Firstly, he’s tall, dark and handsome: ‘…she was acutely aware of his tall, boyish straightness, his glossy black hair, his luminous dark-blue eyes.’ Secondly, he’s a brilliant artist, famous for his pictures of beautiful women – every one of which has just a tiny bit of Emily in it. Thirdly, there are all those years of sobbingly miserable separation, when each of them loves the other and can’t or won’t say so. Not to mention his crazy mother, who does her best to put a spanner in the works and for a long time succeeds. And then that gorgeous scene at the end where he confesses, ‘I’ve been trying all my life to tell you I loved you.


2. Kester Bellever (Elinor Brent-Dyer, Chalet School series)

Normally Elinor Brent-Dyer’s not particularly good at men, but Kester Bellever is something special. He’s only a minor character, but he is uniformly lovely (there are no pictures of him, but we think the young David Attenborough does the trick). He first shows up taking little Cherry Christie out for the day, and then it turns out that he’s a famous naturalist. But it’s the way he treats Annis that really gets me swooning. After she runs away, he finds her climbing his cliffs to escape the tide and ties up her ankle, carries her to his hut, puts her to bed and makes her soup. And then he makes her tell him what’s wrong and takes her back to school. And finally, “Kester Bellever faced Miss Annersley with his shy smile. ‘I see it’s not necessary to ask you to be gentle with that poor kid,’ he said. ‘I’m glad the school’s got such a Head.’



1. Sebastian Scott (Lorna Hill, Sadler’s Wells series)

His eyes were blue – not light blue, but dark, and sparkling, and slightly on the slant. His hands fascinated me. They were strong, and slender, and very sensitive, and he moved them about continually as he talked. I’d never seen anyone with hands like that. In fact I’d never seen anyone like him at all. I wondered what his name was.

What? Oh, sorry…

Yes, Sebastian, my first and greatest literary crush (the one I used to sob into my pillow for at the age of fourteen), is indisputably number one on my list. If he rolled up waving a wedding ring I would be up the aisle before you could say “arrogant bastard”. Which he isn’t. He’s funny and clever, and very imaginative and sensitive. Also, he adores Veronica and even though he says awful, unforgiveable things after throwing an almighty strop because she forgets about his concert, and then refuses to apologise, she is just as furious and they still love each other and are madly happy together. And he is fabulously flamboyant and eccentric.


PLUS – The Amazing Tristan Denny

Because what’s not to love about a vague, eccentric musician who is ‘…the weirdest creature the girls had ever seen. He was tall and gaunt, with long brown hair falling wildly into his eyes and on to the wide collar of his shirt. He wore an enormous brown bow at his open shirt-throat. There was something untamed about him, and his vivid pink-and-white skin added to his unusual looks.

Leave a comment


  1. Mmm, Grant and Patrick!
    Gilbert Blythe usually gets a mention in these matters, but I’ve never been convinced myself. Teddy is definitely a more interesting Montgomery hero.

    • Abi Cadell

       /  February 14, 2012

      I have to admit I’ve never seen the appeal of Gilbert. Teddy’s so much more romantic and lovely!

      Thanks for commenting. 😀

  2. Ariel

     /  February 15, 2012

    Pah! As if any of them could stand up to Jem! He’s all dashing and wonderful and manly – and how many of them have rescued someone from a burning train, risked life and limb to save their OTL’s sister’s fingers, gone dashing heroically up mountains after said sister, stood up the Nazis…

    Actually. I think that one of my favourites was always the man in the attic from ‘A Little Princess’. Aside from anything else, he has a monkey.

    • Abi Cadell

       /  February 15, 2012

      It’s true he is quite magical. But Jem? Nah… he’s too bossy and pompous for me!

  3. Although looking back I find him slightly unreconstructed, I definitely agree with your Sebastian choice. Also, I always remember the bit in the first book when they’re sleeping on the platform at Newcastle and Veronica mumbles that he’s been sweet, and he asks what she’s just said, and she says ‘oh, nothing’, because she knows that ‘you should never call a man sweet’ – good advice (in some situations, at least) that has stayed with me!

    Also, this isn’t Girls’ Own, but when I was very young indeed I had a crush on the Saucepan Man in Blyton’s Faraway Tree books. I think it was that there was something fey about him, and then in one story he was wrongfully imprisoned or something, and it really got to me.

    • Abi Cadell

       /  February 15, 2012

      The Saucepan Man was a brilliant creation – I think he was my favourite character in the Faraway Tree books (except possibly for Dame Washalot, who used to tip her washing water away down the tree).

      Thank you for your comments!

  4. Awesome list! Although Grant only eighth and Sebastian Scott first – no way… some nice choices there though, particularly Kester and of course, Mr Denny!

    • Abi Cadell

       /  February 25, 2012

      I’m glad you approve of Mr Denny! I work hard to find more fans for him… 😀

  5. Oops – forgot to say in the earlier comment, great to see Fatty there. Definitely EB’s most likeable character. Agree on your comment about Jem, as well – far too bossy to be appealing!

  6. chaletian

     /  March 1, 2012

    Love the post. I don’t know all the characters but wonderful choices from the Chalet School. I also like Dickon and Patrick. From Forest as well, I very much like Anquetil (I used to be good at remembering names …) – is he a Bob?

    I loved the Little Women books as a child and have long had a soft spot for Fritz Bhaer. I know Alcott said that she invented him as a funny husband for herself but I think he’s great – so kind and warm hearted. And dishy Dan is plain swoon-worthy …

    BO rather than GO, but, as a kid, I had quite a crush on Bob Cherry from the Billy Bunter books – he’s such a cheerful lad.

    • Abi Cadell

       /  March 3, 2012

      Thank you for your comment! I’d forgotten Anquetil (I think he was Bob…), but he is rather lovely.

  7. lucy

     /  April 4, 2012

    Love the pic you found for Mr Denny. Definitely in my top list too.

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