A survey of 2,000 UK adults to mark the 10th anniversary of literacy charity Quick Reads found that Finch, the lawyer father of Lee’s child heroine Scout, topped the list of the most inspiring literary character for both men and women. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman, but in Go Set a Watchman, the surprise sequel published by Lee last summer, he takes a different perspective on race, asking his daughter: “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?”
For women, Finch was followed as most inspirational character by the bow-and-arrow wielding heroine Katniss Everdeen, from Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series. JRR Tolkien’s ring-bearing hobbit Frodo Baggins was in second place for men.
Harry Potter was the third most inspiring character in literature for both men and women. Fourth place was taken by Helen Fielding’s weight-watching diarist Bridget Jones for women, and by Dan Brown’s code-cracking “symbologist” Robert Langdon – he of the “charcoal turtleneck, Harris Tweed jacket, khakis, and collegiate cordovan loafers” – for men.
The research, produced in partnership with Dr Josie Billington, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool, also asked respondents which fictional character they most identified with, with Bridget Jones topping the list for women, and Frodo Baggins for men.