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The Pillars of the Earth

The principal characters

This depicts the relationships between the principal characters in The Pillars of the Earth. Brief text descriptions are below the image. You can see an animated version that relies on Adobe Flash Player here.

The Pillars of the Earth principal characters

Agnes is not pretty, but her face is full of strength, with a broad forehead, large brown eyes, a straight nose and a strong jaw. Her dark, wiry hair is parted in the middle and tied at the back.

Alfred looks like his father, Tom Builder, with light brown hair and greenish eyes with brown flecks, and a soft blond beard. He is, like Tom, a large and strong man.

Aliena has a tumbled mass of unruly dark curls, a straight, imperious nose, soft smooth cheeks, large dark eyes and full sensous lips. She is slim but full breasted, and careless in what she wears, often going barefoot.

Earl Bartholomew
The Earl of Shiring is a tall man of over fifty years of age, with white hair and pale blue eyes in a pale, thin, haughty face. He does not look like a man of generous spirit.

Ellen is an outlaw. She is short and slim, has dark brown hair that comes to a devil’s peak on her forehead, and intense deep-set eyes of an unusual honey-gold colour. She is Jack’s mother.

Francis of Gwynedd is a short, compact man in his middle twenties, with close-cropped black hair and bright blue eyes that twinkle with an alert intelligence. He is two years younger than his brother, Philip.

Bishop Henry
Henry is a short, broad-shouldered man with a pugnacious face. He has the florid complexion and rounded limbs of a hearty eater, though his eyes are alert and intelligent and he has a determined expression. His head is shaved.

Jack Shareburg
He is quite young, somewhere between twenty and thirty and of normal height and build, but otherwise his appearance is unusual. His skin is as white as snow, he has protuberant eyes of startling bright green, and his hair is the colour of a peeled carrot.

Jack Jackson
He looks rather like his father, Jack Shareburg, slender with pale white skin and orange hair. However, he has bright bird-like blue eyes that bulge slightly. Jack has the alertly stupid look of a dullard, which he most certainly is not.

A sturdy child, he is full of life and boisterous energy. Un-selfconscious, he starts as the pampered pet of the whole monastery and grows into a clever young monk.

She is seven years old, blonde, skinny, and as pretty as a daffodil – but a daffodil with a petal missing – for she has a gap where two of her milk teeth are missing.

Queen Maud
The Empress Maud is tall and thin, with proud dark eyes, plucked eyebrows and straight, glossy black hair. She looks much younger than her forty years, and is considered very beautiful. She is haughty and impetuous, and very sharp.

Sir Percy Hamleigh
The Earl of Shiring is a heavyset, beefy man in his forties, with straw-yellow hair, small eyes and a sullen, brutish expression. Although he is more cunning than intelligent, he is nonetheless a man of considerable wealth and power.

Prior Philip
Philip of Gwynedd has close-cropped black hair and piercing blue eyes. He is lean, with not an ounce of fat, and very energetic. His face is usually stern, but conceals a kindly and generous nature – especially when he meets children.

Lady Regan Hamleigh
Lady Hamleigh is repulsive to look at. Her face is covered in unsightly boils, which she cannot help touching all the time with her skeletal hands. She usually tries to conceal her face with a hood. She is extremely determined and strong, even vicious.

He looks similar to his sister, Aliena, but his dark curls are cropped short, and he has a snub nose. He is tall and awkward and smooth-cheeked, but he is extremely courageous – though also somewhat lazy.

King Stephen
Stephen is a short, broad-shouldered man with a mane of tawny hair, and fine, intelligent – if somewhat florid – features. He generally appears to be at ease, whatever the tensions around him. He likes to finish state business early in the morning and then to hunt.

She has dark curls like her mother, and her father’s easy-going nature.

He has, like his father, red hair, bright blue eyes and flawless white skin.

Waleran Bigod
Archdeacon Waleran Bigod is a tall, thin man, with long legs and arms. He has lank, jet-black hair and a pale face with a sharp nose and deep-set, flinty eyes. He gives the impression of a bird of prey, or of a spider waiting to spring.

William Hamleigh
William is a tall, well-built man. He has yellow hair and narrow eyes which make him look as though he is always peering into the sun. As he ages, he becomes more heavyset and florid, though he remains a good horseman.

See a comprehensive chart showing the characters in both The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.