Denis Stone, a young poet, almost a symbol in the novel for artistic ineffectuality, who loves Anne Wimbush, old Henry’s niece. Stone is disturbed by the other guests at the party, particularly by Scogan, a very rational man. Stone’s suit is never realized, though Anne has decided she will accept him if he proposes. The indecisive Stone makes one decision in the novel: He arranges to have sent a fake telegram recalling him to London. Ironically, his one decisive action separates him from Anne.
Anne Wimbush, a young woman, four years Stone’s senior, who looks on his suit for her affection first with scorn, finally with sympathy. She, unlike Stone, thinks life should be accepted as it unfolds; Stone attempts to carry personally all the troubles of the world on his shoulders.
Mr. Scogan, Stone’s opposite. Scogan is rational to the degree that Stone is sentimental. Scogan’s cold-blooded intelligence annoys Stone.
Mrs. Priscilla Wimbush, a rather scatterbrained woman, Henry’s wife, who studies the stars. She is enthusiastic because she has picked a winner at a horse race with information she divined from the movements of the celestial bodies.
Gombauld, an artist who is invited to Crome to paint Anne’s picture. He expresses his love for Anne and is repulsed.
Jenny Mullion, a young deaf woman who makes up for her lack of hearing by observing very accurately the people at the party. She draws sketches of them in a book she carries, and she writes her impressions of life primarily for her own amusement.
Mary Bracegirdle, a woman remembered for her repressions and Freudian dreams. She is anxious most of the time and given to discussing her psychological ills with anyone who will listen. She decides first to pursue Stone and then Gombauld and manages to talk with each man at the wrong time, when he is occupied with other interests. She does attract a painter of ghosts and spirits, Ivor Lombard, but after visiting her once, Lombard leaves Crome and sends her only a postcard with a terse message. She becomes convinced her life is a ruin.