The miserable Ebenezer Scrooge is most-loved by the British public
The cold-hearted, tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge has been voted the number one most popular Dickens character.
Described by Dickens in his 1843 novel A Christmas Carol thus: "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and he spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice...", and what with his surname having become a nickname for someone feeling less than festive, it may come as a surprise that the "bah, humbug" uttering old crone topped the poll.
The rest of the top five was also made up of villains: Great Expectations' Miss Havisham, Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, and the Artful Dodger and Fagin from Oliver Twist.
Dickens’ biographer Claire Tomalin said: "Scrooge's popularity is surprising, since his modern equivalent might be a banker. But Dickens excelled in creating villains, and always gave them more energy and brio than his good characters, so that we never forget them.
“Scrooge is a monster, a wicked employer and a heartless miser, but he is allowed to repent and see the error of his ways. So perhaps it's the contrast between his outrageous meanness and coldness and his cheery generosity and lavishness at the end that readers respond to."
Dickens’ top ten most-loved characters:
1. Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) - The heartless miser who discovers the true meaning of Christmas - and vows to keep it every day, becoming the nicest man in London
2. Miss Havisham (Great Expectations) - Jilted at the altar as a young woman, the gruesome and tragic Miss Havisham lives in a decaying mansion – still wearing her wedding dress from years before – and swears revenge on the male sex
3. Sydney Carton (A Tale of Two Cities) - ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done …’. One of Dickens’s most flawed but noble heroes, the dissolute lawyer who redeems himself by making the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves
4. The Artful Dodger (Oliver Twist) - Everyone’s favourite wisecracking, chirpy cockney – nicknamed because of his skill and cunning as a pickpocket – who shows naive orphan Oliver the ways of the streets
5. Fagin (Oliver Twist) - Leader of the pack of children Oliver is tricked into joining when he arrives in London, the black-hearted Fagin sent scores of young children into criminal careers
6. Joe Gargery (Great Expectations) - Young Pip's father figure, the kindly blacksmith Joe never stops caring about his young brother-in-law and stands by him even in Pip's darkest days
7. Pip (Great Expectations) - The hero of Dickens' tale of redemption, Pip struggles with his love for Estella and his 'great expectations' when he suddenly becomes a gentleman
8. Nancy (Oliver Twist) - The big-hearted prostitute and lover of the thief Bill Sikes, Nancy tries to help Oliver escape a life of crime but ends up paying a grisly price for her good deed
9. Abel Magwitch (Great Expectations) - Criminal, convict and benefactor, Magwitch is the cause of many of Pip's transformations in the novel, from lonely boy to guilty child, from straying youth to moral man
10. Betsey Trotwood (David Copperfield) - David Copperfield’s indomitable, donkey-hating Aunt rescues him from a miserable childhood, and is one of Dickens’s most unforgettable and funny female characters
The poll was commissioned by Penguin, the official publishing partner of Dickens 2012.