The Warden Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1855

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social realism

Time of work: Mid-nineteenth century

Locale: London and Barchester, England

Characters DiscussedThe Reverend Septimus Harding

The Warden, TheReverend Septimus Harding, a kind and gentle man who had been a minor canon near Barchester for many years. At the age of fifty, he had become precentor of Barchester Cathedral, a position that included the wardenship of Hiram’s Hospital. The latter was an almshouse for twelve old men established by the will of John Hiram four centuries earlier. Through the efforts of John Bold, a local reformer, and the Jupiter, a newspaper devoted to attacking the greed and power of the church, Mr. Harding is accused of receiving too large an income from his management of the hospital. The legal issue is ambiguous and the almshouse has been well managed, but Harding, distressed that others might question the justice of his position, resigns. All the legal and ecclesiastical officials, even John Bold himself, protest the resignation. After the suit is dropped, the bishop offers the warden a position as chaplain in the bishop’s house, but Harding refuses this charity and lives in poor lodgings in town, supported only by his tiny living near the Cathedral Close.

Eleanor Harding

Eleanor Harding, the favorite and younger daughter of Septimus Harding. She is in love with John Bold. Fully cog-nizant of her father’s sensitivity, she understands why he wants to resign his wardenship. In a scene that reveals their love for each other, she begs John Bold to drop the suit, as he does. She marries Bold, and her father frequently visits the couple.

The Reverend Theophilus Grantly

The Reverend Theophilus Grantly, the archdeacon of Barchester and rector of Plumstead Episcopi. He is the son of the bishop and the son-in-law of Mr. Harding. Archdeacon Grantly believes in “the sacred justice of all ecclesiastical revenues.” Recognized as more worldly than his fellow churchmen, he insists that Harding take a strong stand against the lawsuit and the press, and he disapproves strongly of Eleanor’s interest in John Bold.

Susan Grantly

Susan Grantly, the wife of Archdeacon Grantly and the older daughter of Mr. Harding. She joins her husband in trying to persuade her father to insist on the prerogatives of the church.

Bishop Grantly

Bishop Grantly, the father of Archdeacon Grantly, more than seventy years old. The bland, kindly bishop of Barchester warmly supports Harding but leaves most of the controversial campaigning to his son.

John Bold

John Bold, a surgeon and town councillor, genuinely concerned with reform. He honestly believes that John Hiram’s will did not provide for the income the warden receives, and he begins the action by instituting a lawsuit. When he is persuaded that the lawsuit has created more injustice than it has ameliorated, he willingly drops the charges.

Mary Bold

Mary Bold, the older sister of John Bold. A kindly woman, she promotes the engagement of her brother to Eleanor Harding, her best friend.

John Bunce

John Bunce, the oldest of the beadsmen at Hiram’s Hospital. He is entirely loyal to Harding.

Abel Handy

Abel Handy, another beadsman at Hiram’s Hospital, selfishly disloyal to Harding.

Tom Towers

Tom Towers, a reporter for the Jupiter. He maintains, in print, that Harding has unjustly received more money than Hiram’s will intended. His attacks, originating from an anticlerical point of view, are both personal and unfair.

Sir Abraham Haphazard

Sir Abraham Haphazard, an eminent queens’ counsel and attorney general. He is hired to defend Harding and is a conservative adherent of ecclesiastical privilege.

Mr. Finney

Mr. Finney, the solicitor hired by John Bold to collect evidence against the warden. He gets most of the inmates of Hiram’s Hospital to sign a petition protesting the management by promising them each one hundred pounds per year.

Doctor Pessimist Anticant

Doctor Pessimist Anticant, a Scots pamphleteer, one of whose moral and reforming pamphlets “exposes” Harding.

Mr. Popular Sentiment

Mr. Popular Sentiment, a muckraking novelist whose work, Almshouse, depicts the clergyman as a vicious monster depriving the old beadsmen of all sustenance.


Chadwick, the bishop’s steward and the man who farms John Hiram’s estate.

Charles James Grantly

Charles James Grantly, the oldest child of Archdeacon Grantly, an exact, careful boy.

Henry Grantly

Henry Grantly, the second and favorite son of Archdeacon Grantly, the most “brilliant” of the children.

Samuel Grantly

Samuel Grantly, a sneaky, cunning child of Archdeacon Grantly.


Florinda and

Grizzel Grantly

Grizzel Grantly, daughters of Archdeacon Grantly.

BibliographyBooth, Bradford A. Anthony Trollope: Aspects of His Life and Art. London: Edward Hulton, 1958. Contains a study of Trollope’s religious beliefs and their impact on The Warden and subsequent ecclesiastical novels. Also examines the Church of England and its high and low wings.Cockshut, A. O. J. Anthony Trollope: A Critical Study. New York: New York University Press, 1968. A study of Trollope and his times that gives the author’s views on human nature, property and rank, families, religion and the clergy, death, politics, and love, all subjects that inform The Warden, the first of his Barchester novels.Glendinning, Victoria. Anthony Trollope. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993. Considered the standard late twentieth century biography of Trollope. Provides insight into the characters of Mr. Septimus Harding and Archdeacon Grantly. Connects the plot of The Warden to actual ecclesiastical scandals in the Victorian church.Sadleir, Michael. Trollope: A Commentary. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1947. The author first produced with Frederick Page the uncorrupted Oxford edition of The Warden. In this study, Sadleir uses Trollope family papers and letters as well as contemporary reviews of The Warden to elucidate some of Trollope’s sources as well as the initial reception of the book.Skilton, David. Anthony Trollope and His Contemporaries: A Study in the Theory and Conventions of Mid-Victorian Fiction. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1972. Situates Trollope and The Warden in the mid-Victorian world in which they appeared. Shows their relationship to other authors such as Dickens and Thackeray.
Categories: Characters