[Originally published February 1, 2008.]
Honest and upright youngest son of the dissolute Lord Albright. Childhood favorite of his deceased mother, Lady Alicia Albright, and said to resemble her most uncannily. He comes to grief attempting to foil his father’s plot against the innocent Jeremy Trueblood.
Dodgy owner of the disreputable Circus Marcus. Suspected by Magistrate Petitgout of feeding the circus’s performing tigers upon surplus orphans.
Ticket-taker at Marcus Maxwell’s Circus Marcus. Testifies against his employer before the Queen’s Bench, though he knows it may well cost him his life.
Energetic city magistrate who appears, early in the story, to be integral to the plot, but spends the last two-thirds of the novel on injured reserve.
Disreputable eldest son of the hidebound and sanctimonious banker Mr. Epaphroditus Crowder. Employed by Marcus Maxwell on an unsavory bit of business, he returns home transformed in a truly startling fashion.
Grim and grasping orphanage director of dubious honor and doubtful motives. Views his tender young charges as a tradable commodity and actively seeks out new markets of exchange. Also, weighs 366 pounds (26 stone).
Body found in river.
Ship’s doctor on the Adelaide, possessing a unique and gruesome collection of South Sea island curiosities. He maintains a cheerful outlook on life despite being much afflicted by gout, baldness, and an old harpoon injury. Has a remarkable talent for gleaning information from waterlogged corpses.
An ancient and comically deaf farmer residing on the Albright estate. Catch phrase: “Speak up! Lord Cardigan stole me ears!” Quite possibly insane.
Ward and protégé of the kindly Magistrate Petitgout, he is forced to flee London when Petitgout’s sworn enemy, Lord Albright, falsely implicates him in a shady land deal so complicated Dickens eventually gives up trying and changes the crime to attempted arson, midnovel, without explanation. Marries Jenny Applegate.
An honest barrister who continually loses his court cases, but can run the 40 in 4.3. Defends Jeremy Trueblood on charges of fraud (chapters 27–42) and arson (chapters 43–65).
Criminal-court judge with a pronounced distaste for cats. Even Dickens cannot sustain the utterly preposterous title “Judge Fudge,” and writes him out of the story in the eighth installment.
A clockmaker who’s always about to wind, or has just wound, a clock. Miraculously escapes the conflagration in his shop by riding an oversized pendulum bob to safety on the next rooftop. Known for his fabulous mustaches, which Dickens originally intended to compare to the hands on a clock face but somehow never got around to doing so.
Senior partner in the clockmaking firm of Dockett and Dockery. His testimony on the accurate timing of sprint races, the periodicity of 26-stone pendulums, and the combustibility of pinchbeck secures the acquittal of Jeremy Trueblood, and the convictions of Messrs. Maxwell and Walker. Takes the disowned, destitute Ethan Albright as his apprentice at novel’s end, to the general satisfaction of all.