Whether they're wacky or wise or warmhearted, literature is full of lovable characters. Through the ages, readers have had their favorites. Some are established legends who have been popular for generations, while others are new on the scene. Here's a sampling of well-loved characters from literary classics to contemporary reads.
1. Children have an edge when it comes to likability. Little Francie Nolan from the heartwarming classic "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" embodies the innocence and wonder of childhood, and strikingly so, against the backdrop of her rough, gritty and cynical environment. Francie is imaginative, bright and hopeful. She is a dreamer who has what it takes to reach her goals; unlike her lovable but weak, pipe-dreaming father.
2. Another well-loved child from the world of literature is Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. From a time when boys could be boys, this mischievous lad has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless readers.
3. Sherlock Holmes may not be the warmest or cuddliest of characters but his fan base is stronger than ever. The world's favorite detective has captivated readers for over a hundred years with a combination of brilliance, superhuman talent, dogged determination, and a wide range of eccentricities.
4. The flighty but fun-loving Becky Bloomwood of Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic Series may be the quintessential chick lit heroine tying with, or some would say surpassing, the popularity of Bridget Jones. Becky's irresponsible ways are easily forgiven by readers following her as she cleverly navigates her way through one hapless adventure after another.
5. What could be more attractive than a lovable cad? And Rhett Butler from "Gone With the Wind" certainly fits the bill. His rakish ways could only be curbed for his female counterpart, the equally popular Scarlett O'Hara.
6. Charlotte Bronte's plain, modest, virtuous heroine Jane Eyre, from the classic novel by the same name, had a spirit that may have been repressed but was never broken. Her candor, along with her unwavering faith and ideals, have won the hearts of many readers over the years. These traits, together with her love for humanity, despite the mistreatment she endured, make her one of literature's most admired characters.
7. The irreverent army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce, best remembered as portrayed by Alan Alda in the classic TV show M*A*S*H, first appeared in the book M*A*S*H before making his big screen and subsequently small screen debut. Hawkeye was perhaps the first representation of a physician in literature who was depicted as human, flawed and genuinely funny.
8. The story " The Light in the Piazza" by Elizabeth Spencer features many lovable characters, none more so than the carefree and childlike Clara Johnson, whose disability and dreams of a 'normal' life just make her all the more sympathetic to readers.
9. Although not one of literature's best known characters, few would argue that Jem Kellaway from Tracy Chevalier's "Burning Bright" is a distinctly likeable character. This simple country boy remains pure and honest despite exposure to the harsh, disillusioning environment of the big city, when his family moves to London in the late 18th century.
10. Everyone has a favorite teacher and for some it's the gentle, understanding and devoted Arthur Chipping, from "Goodbye Mr. Chips", who somehow managed to be respected and authoritative while a friend to his students all at the same time, an enviable feat.