Zuleika Dobson Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1911

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Satire

Time of work: Early twentieth century

Locale: Oxford, England

Characters DiscussedZuleika Dobson

Zuleika Zuleika DobsonDobson, a bewitching young woman with whom all the Oxford undergraduates fall in love. She can love only a man who will not love her. After all the young Oxonians have committed suicide for love of her, Zuleika takes a train for Cambridge and another try for a man she can love. She earns her living as a magician.

The Duke of Dorset

The Duke of Dorset, a rich young English aristocrat in love with Zuleika. When she pours a pitcher of water on his head, he believes he is released from his vow to commit suicide for her. When a strange bird sings, heralding a death in his family, he commits suicide anyway, rather than break a tradition. He throws himself in the river and drowns.


Noaks, an impecunious student. Zuleika thinks she can love him, because he does not love her. Noaks, however, commits suicide by jumping out a window because he thinks Katie Batch does not love him.

Katie Batch

Katie Batch, the pretty daughter of the Duke of Dorset’s landlady. She tells Zuleika that the duke committed suicide out of respect for tradition, not love for Zuleika.

The Warden of Judas College

The Warden of Judas College, Zuleika’s grandfather. Her visit to see him at Oxford sets off the whole absurd chain of events.

BibliographyBehrman, S. N. Portrait of Max: An Intimate Memoir of Sir Max Beerbohm. New York: Random House, 1960. Written by an old friend of Beerbohm, the book sheds light on the characters in Zuleika Dobson that were modeled on acquaintances.Felstiner, John. The Lies of Art: Max Beerbohm’s Parody and Caricature. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972. Examines Beerbohm’s extravagance, wit, and style, all of which culminate in Zuleika Dobson. Draws comparisons between Zuleika Dobson and James Joyce’s Ulysses in their extravagant use of language. Traces other literary influences on Beerbohm.Lynch, Bohun. Max Beerbohm in Perspective. New York: Haskell House, 1974. A critical look at Beerbohm’s work, which takes issue with the form and execution of Zuleika Dobson. Examines the satirical aspects of Beerbohm’s depiction of Oxford.McElderry, Bruce R. Max Beerbohm. New York: Twayne, 1972. The best book with which to begin a study of Max Beerbohm. Gives close scrutiny to the role of Oxford in Zuleika Dobson and examines the episodic form of the novel and the interludes that punctuate the action of the story.Riewald, J. G. Sir Max Beerbohm, Man and Writer: A Critical Analysis with a Brief Life and Bibliography. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1953. The first and perhaps the best longer critical study of Beerbohm. In an extended criticism of Zuleika Dobson, Riewald examines distortions of space and time in the work and makes a case for its being a fantasy rather than a novel.
Categories: Characters