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Characters / The Silkworm

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This page is for character introduced in the novel The Silkworm. For characters who appear across the series see here.

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The Quine Family

     Owen Quine 

Owen Quine

A mediocre novelist with an inflated opinion of himself. Strike is hired to find him when he disappears.


  • Even Jerkasses Have Loved Ones: He seems to genuinely care about his daughter.
  • One-Hit Wonder: His first novel Hobart's Sin was a great success with the critics, but nothing he has written since has come even close to match it. invoked
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Strike’s investigation of his disappearance and murder forms the plot of the novel.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: His novels after Hobart's Sin were panned and he never enjoyed much commercial success or fame. This doesn't stop him from believing himself to be a misunderstood genius.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It’s hard to understand how Quine is still considered part of the literary world considering Jerry Waldegrave is the only one who can tolerate the man.
  • Your Cheating Heart: He constantly cheats on his wife.
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     Leonora Quine 

Leonora Quine

Owen Quine’s long suffering wife.


  • The Caretaker: She is the only one who takes care of her daughter Orlando.
  • Foil: Leonora Quine is an excellent foil for Cormoran's previous client, John Bristow. John is an unusually extroverted man; fiercely protective of his surviving family; convinced that his sister's death was a murder rather than a suicide; flies under the radar of both the police and Strike for the entire case; and is ultimately revealed to be Lula's killer. Leonora is an unusually introverted woman; shows subtle but devoted concern about her daughter's health at all times, even ahead of her own well-being; shows little to no interest in her husband's whereabouts following his disappearance, and takes his death with an unusual amount of grace. She is immediately tagged as a suspect in his murder, and is even arrested at one point. Unlike Bristow, however, she is completely innocent.
  • Love Martyr: Owen treated her like shit for decades, but she stuck with him through it all.
  • No Social Skills: Leonora comes off as extremely brusque in her dealing with everyone except her daughter and doesn’t display many emotions when you would expect her to. This helps convince the police and the press that she murdered her husband.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: She is compared to a long-haired Rose West by the British press when she is first arrested for Quine's murder.

     Orlando Quine 

Orlando Quine

Owen Quine’s mentally disabled daughter.


The Publishing Industry

     Elizabeth Tassel 

Elizabeth Tassel

Owen Quine’s long-time literary agent.


  • Incurable Cough of Death: She spends the entire book with a wheezing cough which is actually a side effect of inhaling fumes from Hydrochloric acid.
  • Mean Boss: Her employees are absolutely terrified of her.
  • Most Writers Are Male: Her pet peeve. Men like Owen and Fancourt are happy enough to have women review their work, and are especially happy with their female fans, but Lord forbid a woman actually dare to write a book herself.

     Jerry Waldegrave 

Jerry Waldegrave

Owen Quine’s long-time editor.


  • The Alcoholic: He turns to the bottle after the Bombyx Mori debacle destroys his career.
  • Beleaguered Editor: He has spent years putting up with Quine’s crap and delusions of grandeur.
  • The Woobie: When the contents of Bombyx Mori come to light, it destroys his career, costs him his marriage, and turns him into an alcoholic.
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     Michael Fancourt 

Michael Fancourt

A famous bestselling author with a decades-old feud with Quine.


  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: He actually writes novels geared toward the people who analyze in this fashion.invoked
  • Hypocrite: He is furious at both Liz and Owen for the anonymous parody of his wife's work, believed to be written by Owen, that drove her to suicide. But according to Liz Tassel, he had made a career out of similar writings.
  • Jerkass: The man is a misogynistic asshole.
  • Straw Misogynist: Exemplified by his explanation why Most Writers Are Male… women with children simply cannot write good literature, apparently.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Back in the day, he and Quine used to be extremely close.

     Daniel Chard 

Daniel Chard

The president of Roper-Chard, a London publishing house that specializes in modern literature.


     Nina Lascelles 

Nina Lascelles

A junior editor at Roper Chard.


  • Girl of the Week: She has a sexual relationship with Strike for a good part of the novel.

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Others

     Kathryn Kent 

Kathryn Kent

Quine’s mistress and talentless aspiring writer.


     Pippa Midgley 

Pippa Midgley

A transgender woman undergoing therapy ahead of gender reassignment surgery. She was very close with Quine and Kathryn.


  • Heel–Face Turn: She eventually becomes cordial towards Cormoran and Robin, once she realizes that he wasn’t sent by Leonora to harm or frame her.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Her attempts to deal with Strike are downright laughable.
  • Those Two Guys: After a certain point in the novel, she only appears or is mentioned together with Kathryn.
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