Companion to Wild Strawberries

2.   Wild Strawberries. Introduces the Leslie family, some of the most important characters in the novels. Mary Preston, Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham's niece, is infatuated with David Leslie, who flirts with her in his thoughtless and self-centered way. Widowed John Leslie falls in love with Mary but is discouraged by a remark she makes about John Milton's second marriage. A French family, the Boulles, have leased the vicarage for the summer. Some of the plot highlights: David and Martin show off while driving; a visit to Rushmere Abbey; a visit from the toadying and freeloading garden expert, Mr. Holt; David breaks his promise to bring Mary wild strawberries from London; Mary is jealous of Joan Stevenson of the BBC; a Sunday church service where Lady Emily tries to manage everything; the servants' concert; Pierre Boulle's "heroic rescue" of Emmy Graham from a shallow pool; Martin's eventful 17th birthday party, including an abortive French Royalist demonstration. John wins Mary. Some of the most pleasant and memorable characters in any of Thirkell's novels.

Book title and abbreviation

High Rising HR1
Wild Strawberries WS
The Demon in the House DH
Mrs. Morland and Son MMS
August Folly AF
Summer Half SH
Pomfret Towers PT
The Brandons B
Before Lunch BL
Cheerfulness Breaks In CBI
Northbridge Rectory NR
Marling Hall MH
Growing Up GU
The Headmistress HM
Miss Bunting MB
Peace Breaks Out PBO
Private Enterprise PE
Love Among the Ruins LAR
The Old Bank House OBH
County Chronicle CC
The Duke's Daughter DD
Happy Return HR2
Jutland Cottage JC
What Did It Mean? WDIM
Enter Sir Robert ESR
Never Too Late NTL
A Double Affair DA
Close Quarters CQ
Love at All Ages LAA
Three Score and Ten 3S&T

Character, description and book abbreviations

Badger, Miss

John Leslie's secretary in his London office.

WS

Baker, Mrs.

Ill-tempered old lady with whom Conque, Lady Emily Leslie's French maid, took her annual holiday. Lived in Folkestone; the holiday consisted of a day excursion to Boulogne. Housekeeper at Rushwater before Mrs. Siddon. After Lady Emily's death, Conque went to live with her.

WS, OBH, ESR

Banister, Canon

Vicar of St. Mary's, Rushwater, later Canon of Barchester Cathedral. Always got eyeglasses tangled in cord.

WS, CBI, MH, MB, PBO, LAR, ESR

Bessie

Under-housemaid at Rushwater.

WS, PBO, LAR

Bingham, Hermione

Daughter of Lady Dorothy "Dodo" Bingham. Twin sister of Rose. Married Lord Tadcaster of Tadpole Hall. One daughter.

WS, PBO, LAR, CC, HR2, ESR, DA

Bingham, Lady Dorothy "Dodo"

d. 1956. Mother of Rose and Hermione (twins). Also had three sons. Masterful fox-hunting type. Widow at first appearance in WS. Second daughter of Duke of Towers. Aunt of Lionel Harvest. Distant cousin of the Leslies.

WS, PBO, LAR, OBH, HR2, ESR, DA

Bingham, Rose

Daughter of Lady Dorothy "Dodo" Bingham. Became engaged to David Leslie in PBO. Children Dorothy and Henry. Sophisticated and intelligent, she served in Foreign Office during war. Had three brothers in the Army. Quite capable of curing David of his "bone-selfishness."

WS, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, DD, HR2, ESR, DA

Boulle, Jean-Claude

b. 1918. Skinny, spotty 16-year-old son of Prof. and Mme. Boulle in WS. Boy scout and ardent French Royalist. The display of Royalist support the children planned for Martin Leslie's birthday party backfired and fell flat.

WS, LAR, DD

Boulle, M. Henri

French professor whose family leased the Vicarage at Rushwater for the summer in WS. Gave Martin Leslie French lessons.

WS, LAR, DD

Boulle, Mme. Madeleine

Wife of Prof. Henri Boulle. Children Pierre, Ursule, Jean-Claude.

WS, LAR, DD

Boulle, Pierre

b. 1909. Frenchman, son of Prof. Henri Boulle. Tutored Martin Leslie in French. Had French Royalist sympathies. Fell in love with Lady Agnes Graham, "rescued" her daughter Edith from fishpond. Was confused with Jules Duval in PBO. In French Mixo-Lydian embassy in DA, mentioned as Maitre Boulle, professor at Academie Francaise in 3S&T.

WS, PBO, LAR, DD, DA, LAA, 3S&T

Boulle, Ursule

b. 1916. Short, stout 18-year-old daughter of Prof. and Mme. Boulle in WS. Devoted French Royalist. Developed schoolgirl crush on the repellent Joan Stevenson.

WS, PBO, LAR, DD

Brown, Old

d. 1944. Head gardener for the Leslies at Rushwater.

WS, PBO

Capes, Lady Alice

Wife of Lord Capes of Capes Castle. Lived mostly in the South of France.

WS

Capes, Lord

Rude resident of Capes Castle.

WS

Conque, Amalie (“Conk")

Lady Emily Leslie's maid. Spoke little English despite 30-year residence in England. Combined devotion, incompetence and rudeness. After Lady Emily's death she went to live with Old Mrs. Baker at Folkestone. Was born in Vache-et-Etable.

WS, MH, PBO, LAR, OBH, ESR, DA

Dashwood, Mrs.

Her children were never allowed barley kernels by their Nanny because they were heating to the blood.

WS

George

Cat belonging to the Leslies. When David Leslie was a child he used to put George inside the large nursery doll's house.

WS

Gooch

Milkman in Rushwater Village.

WS

Graham, Clarissa

b. 1931. Second daughter of Sir Robert and Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham. Neat, precise, and delicate-appearing. Marked resemblance to grandmother, Lady Emily Leslie. Dark cloudy hair, dark eyes, fair skin. Educated at Cambridge, then confused about what to do with herself. Greatly affected by Lady Emily's death, she behaved badly, with precocious condescension, to her fiancé Charles Belton and others. Married Charles on New Year's Day, 1952. one son, one daughter.

WS, BL, MH, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, Edith

b. 1937. Spoiled youngest daughter of Sir Robert and Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham. As a child she recited poems which she invented. Admired by John-Arthur Crosse and George Halliday, but they both later married other girls. Married William Harcourt. One child, Gwendolyn Sally.

WS, BL, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, Emily (Emmy)

b. 1927. Eldest daughter of Sir Robert and Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham. Strong, boyish, and boisterous. Five years old in WS. Fair hair, blue eyes. Cow-minded, in PBO she was breeding bulls with cousin Martin Leslie at Rushwater. Married Tom Grantly. Children James and Agnes.

WS, BL, MH, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, James

b. 1926. Oldest son of Sir Robert and Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham. At Eton in MH, entering military in LAR. Said to resemble David Leslie. In Guards Regt. Major by the time of LAA.

WS, BL, MH, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, ESR, NTL, DA, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, John

b. 1929. Second son of Sir Robert and Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham. In Army Guards Regt., captain by time of LAX Described by Nannie Allen as a "tow-row boy just like his Uncle David."

WS, BL, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, Lady Agnes (Leslie)

Wife of Sir Robert Graham, daughter of Henry and Lady Emily Leslie. Children James, John, Robert, Emily, Clarissa and Edith. Lived at Holdings in Little Misfit. Air-headed, obsessed with her children, called by her brother David a "divine idiot." As she aged she became more like her well-intentioned, interfering mother, but with more practical results.

WS, BL, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, Robert Jr.

b. 1933. Youngest son of Sir Robert and Lady Agnes (Leslie) Graham. At Eton in PBO. Introspective and poetic as a child, fond of small children. In Guards, Lt. by time of LAA.

WS, BL, MH, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, ESR, NTL, DA, LAA, 3S&T

Graham, Sir Robert

Husband of Lady Agnes (Leslie). Made first "On stage" appearance on last page of ESR. Became General in WWII, apparently high in command and diplomatic structure. Constantly absent on some mission or other. Retired in 1954. Fifteen years older than Agnes, who said he always knew what was best to be done.

WS, BL, MH, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T

Gudgeon

Butler to the Leslies at Rushwater. His greatest pleasure was ringing the dinner gong. Performed comic song "The Body in the Bag" every year at Rushwater concert. Had gone to live with sister at Bovey Tracey in PBO.

WS, PBO, OBH, ESR

Hagenstoltz, Fraulein

German mistress to the Leslie children at Rushwater when John, Agnes and David were young. John wrote derogatory verses on the summerhouse wall about her. Later at Gatherum Castle where she was released after hitting Gerry Palliser's knuckles with a ruler.

WS, PBO, LAR

Harvest, Lionel

Underling of Joan Stevenson at Broadcast House, whose perfect BBC accent illustrated David Leslie's caricature of broadcasters. Nephew of Lady Dorothy "Dodo" Bingham. Somewhat effeminate. Inherited estate from an uncle. Married Joan Stevenson – they deserved each other.

WS, MH, DD

Holden

Sexton at Rushwater church.

WS, LAR

Holt, C. W.

d. 1946. Exceptional bore with penchant for discussing titled "friends" and inviting himself for visits in houses of people too good-natured to put him off. Talked interminably about gardening and gave unwanted advice. Gossipy hanger-on; snobbish, egotistical "tame cat." Got job with Broadcasting House through Joan Stevenson. Dead by time of PE.

WS, MB, PE, LAR, ESR

Horne, Dr.

Doctor to Agnes Graham's children.

WS

Ivy

Nurse to Lady Agnes Graham's children at Holdings. Left to become nurse for a lady going abroad. Nurse and Agnes decided she'd return to nurse David's children.

WS, MH, PBO, LAR, DD

Leslie, David

b. 1907. Youngest son of Henry and Lady Emily Leslie. Spoiled and self-centered, a bit of a lady-killer despite thinning hair. Described as "bone selfish," he was easily bored. Mary Preston was infatuated with him in WS, but married his brother John. Finally married Rose Bingham in PBO .

WS, BL, MH, GU, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, ESR, NTL, DA, LAA

Leslie, Gay

Deceased beloved wife of John Leslie, who remembered her as a "pleasant little ghost". Her memory haunted him in WS until his marriage to Mary Preston.

WS, PBS, LAR, JC, DA

Leslie, Henry

Owner of Rushwater House, husband of Lady Emily. A country-squire type who bred the famous Rushwater bulls. In progressively poorer health from WS until he is dead by the time of PBO (1945).

WS, B, BL, MH HM, PBO, LAR, OBH, DD, HR2, JC, ESR, DA

Leslie, John

b. 1899. Oldest surviving son of Henry and Lady Emily Leslie. Widower, deceased wife's name was Gay. Became engaged to Mary Preston in WS. Regional Commissioner during war. Bought Old Rectory at Greshamsbury as home.

WS, BL, MH, BO, PE, LAR, BH, CC, DD, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ

Leslie, Lady Emily (Foster)

1868-1948. Sister of Old Lord Pomfret, wife of Henry Leslie of Rushwater . Children Martin (killed in WWI), John, Agnes and David. Delightfully unpredictable, interested in painting and arranging other people's affairs with benevolent intent. Supposedly based on AT's acquaintance Mary, Lady Wemyss, whose family was not amused by the affectionate portrayal. Beginning to age at first appearance in WS, became progressively more absent-minded and ethereal as series progressed, Died in OBH, calling her deceased husband and son to wait, she's coming with them.

WS, BL, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL<, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T

Leslie, Martin

b. 1915. Grandson of Henry and Lady Emily Leslie, raised by them because as son of their oldest son he would be owner of Rushwater after Henry's death. His mother had remarried and lived in America. First seen preparing for his 16th birthday in WS. In N. Africa, then wounded at Anzio in war. Received the George Cross for doing something gallant with a bomb. Went to War Office because of bad leg wound, later had to resort to a crutch (in one book he is mistakenly said to have lost a foot.) Became engaged to Sylvia Halliday in PBO . Raised cattle and prize bulls.

WS, BL, MH, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, DA, LAA, 3S&T

Leslie, Martin Giles

1896-1918. Eldest son of Henry and Lady Emily Leslie. Killed in France in WWI. Called Giles in ESR. His widow married an American and had other children (at least one son).

WS, MH, PBO, LAR, OBH, DD, ESR, 3S&T

Lottie

Daughter of Sutton, former scullery maid at Rushwater. "Very peculiar, and has to be in the county asylum."

WS

MacPherson

1868-1950. Estate agent for the Leslies at Rushwater. Verrry Scottish. Came to Rushwater at age 30, stayed over fifty years. Same age as Lady Emily, he died with his Bible on his knees, opened to a page with a picture of Lady Emily, whom he had loved and served all his life. Left his house to Emmy Graham Grantly.

WS, MH, PBO, LAR, OBH, DD, WDIM, ESR, DA, 3S&T

Morland, Tony

b. 1921. Son of Henry and Laura Morland. Student at Southbridge School at first appearance, major interest was model trains. Became Sr. Monitor at Southbridge. Talkative, self-centered, well- intentioned with frequently disastrous results, one-track mind when a child. Attended Oxford. In Army in, Burma during war. Worked for Red Tape and Sealing Wax Office after war. Married with four children.

HR1, WS, DH, SH,B, CBI, NR, MH,GU, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, LAA, 3S&T, MMS

Norton

Daughter of Dowager Lady Norton. Said to have been living in highbrow sin in Chelsea with a Slavo-Lydian intellectual. Bulgy build.

WS, MH, PE, LAR

Norton, Eleanor

Young Lady Norton. Wife of George, Lord Norton. Called her mother-in-law " Moggs". Two daughters, Vickie and Ellie.

WS, MH<, PE, LAR, OBH, CC,DD, HR2, ESR, DA, LAA

Norton, Lady Victoria

Known by most of Barsetshire as the "Dreadful Dowager." Face like a well-bred horse, domineering personality, thought herself the best gardener in the county. Author of Herbs of Grace about gardening. Clothes tended to imitate the Queen Mother. Lived in Cheltenham, Lady Bond moved in with her in 3S&T.

WS, B, CBI, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T

Peter

Dog belonging to Robert Graham. Died from overfeeding by the head housemaid.

WS

Pomfret, Lord, 6th Earl

"Affectionate husband and father," children Giles, Emily, and Agnes. One of the "most insufferable prigs of Victoria's reign." Rebuilt Pomfret Towers, inspired by St. Pancras Station at cost of £100,000. Eyes like a pig and fringe of red hair around bald head. Used to swear at the footmen. His wife was author of the shocking A Step Too Far.

WS, PT, PBO, PE, OBH, HR2, WDIM, ESR, LAA

Potter

Friend of Lionel Harvest at Broadcasting House. Had "naturally wavy hair."

WS

Preston, Col. Clive

d. 1918. Father of Mary Preston. Killed in 1914 war. In same regiment as Martin Leslie, both killed about the same time.

WS, JC

Preston, Mary

b. 1911. Daughter of the late Col. Preston and Mrs. Preston (Sir Robert Graham's oldest sister and a great hypochondriac.) Became engaged to John Leslie in WS after thinking she was in love with his brother David. 3 sons, John, Henry and Clive. Lived in Old Rectory in Greshamsbury. Said mistakenly to have daughters in MH.

WS, BL, MH, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ

Preston, Mrs.

Mother of Mary Preston, eldest sister of Sir Robert Graham. A hypochondriac since her husband's death, cared for by Mary

WS

Siddon, Mrs.

Housekeeper to Lady Emily Leslie at Rushwater. Former still-room maid, usually in a state of feud with nannies of all the Leslie grandchildren. "Mrs." by courtesy. Called "Simnet" in CC.

WS, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, ESR

Somers

Old friend of Banister the Rushwater vicar. Ran a coaching establishment . Introduced Mr. Banister to the Boulle family in France.

WS

Stevenson, Joan

Head of Uplift Poetry Reading Department at Broadcast House. Got David Leslie an unsuccessful audition as a radio broadcaster. Took a first in economics, was once secretary to Prof. Gilbert. A repellent "modern female" who became engaged to equally repellent (and more feminine) Lionel Harvest in WS. They deserved each other.

WS, DD

Stone, Miss

Schoolmistress who played accompaniment at the Tenants' Concert at Rushwater. She was unable to perform due to a touch of the flu, so Mary Preston replaced her.

WS

Sutton

Employee of the Leslies at Rushwater. Took up money at gate of  ruins of Rushwater Abbey.

WS

Sutton, Mrs.

Mother of Lottie. Like all her family, "a bit peculiar."

WS

Sutton, Lottie

Daughter of Sutton, former scullerymaid at Rushwater House until  she went mad. Was in county asylum.

WS

Walter

Footman at Rushwater. Once was walking out with Ivy.

WS, LAR, ESR

Weston

Chauffeur at Rushwater.

WS

Valid HTML 4.01!