Ermatrude (Daphne) Fanshaw
Thirteen years old; a distant cousin of the British crown in the year 1860; polite and kind; often refered to as “ghost girl” due to her fair coloring and her white clothing.
Where to find her:
Ermatrude, who renames herself Daphne, is the main female character in the novel Nation (2008) written by Terry Pratchett of DiscWorld fame. The premises, according to Goodreads:
“Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire.
Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, that all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot, until other survivors arrive to take refuge on the island. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things (including how to milk a pig, and why spitting in beer is a good thing), and start to forge a new nation.”
Why she made the list:
Daphne is a girl who is able to find good in others and appreciate their differences. Raised as the girl whose father is “138th in line to the British throne” she is drilled on proper behavior and the importance of protocol, but when she finds herself stranded on the island, alone and totally without the skills to survive, she is open and ready to learn a new way. Mau teachers her things that are weird and foreign to her but she respects his traditions and trusts that he and the other islanders know what is best.
She doesn’t try to change them, or teach them a “better” way and is always open to doing what ever is asked of her. Just the amount of effort Daphne puts in to communicating with Mau is enough to earn her a place on my list, but she is also funny and good natured and selfless.
In the end, when the island is invaded by pirates, it is Daphne’s willingness to accept the strange new customs that saves her life. The Pirates consider the islanders savages with no intelligence who are beneath their contempt. This turns out to be their undoing.
I don’t necessarily mean famous literature or famous women, just ladies from some of the many books I have read over the years, who have stayed with me for whatever reason. Some are main characters, some are not. Some are heroines, some are screw-ups and some are very, very naughty but, for me, they were the driving force in the story, the reason I kept reading or came back to read again.
Perhaps, if you haven’t already met these literary ladies, you’ll be inspired to, and if you have, we can compare notes and share opinions. I’d love to hear about your favorite female.