Entertainment & Arts

World Book Day: Heroines fight off heroes in poll

The Hunger Games film series Image copyright AP
Image caption Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen in the film version of The Hunger Games

Heroines and female villains outnumber heroes and male baddies in a literary poll of memorable children's novel characters, to mark World Book Day.

Six of the top 10 heroes/heroines voted for were female, including Harry Potter's Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series.

Seven out of 10 villains were female, including Matilda's Miss Trunchbull.

However, the top hero and villain were both male - Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort.

More than 7,000 book lovers took part in the poll, organised by National Book Tokens ahead of World Book Day on 3 March.

Literary villain Bill Sikes was the oldest fictional character to appear on either list, first appearing in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist 180 years ago.

Kirsten Grant, director of World Book Day said: "These polls show that classic characters and stories stay with us, no matter how long ago we read them.

"They also show that readers are refreshingly open to reading about characters of the opposite sex - though is it worrying so many of the greatest fictional villains are female?"

Top 10 favourite heroes/heroines

  1. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)
  2. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda by Roald Dahl)
  3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)
  4. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien)
  5. Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman)
  6. Jo March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
  7. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins)
  8. Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne)
  9. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery)
  10. Paddington Bear (A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond)
Image caption Actor Mark Stanley as Bill Sikes in the BBC One series Dickensian

Top 10 most evil villains

  1. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter series)
  2. Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter series)
  3. Cruella de Vil (The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith)
  4. The White Witch (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis)
  5. Miss Trunchbull (Matilda)
  6. Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter series)
  7. Bill Sikes (Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens)
  8. The Grand High Witch (The Witches by Roald Dahl)
  9. Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)
  10. Mrs Coulter (His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman)

Those polled were also asked to name the 21st Century children's book most likely to be considered a classic by future readers.

While three of JK Rowling's Harry Potter series shared just over 19% of the top 10 vote, it was John Boyne's acclaimed 2006 novel of the Holocaust, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, that topped the poll.

Others that made it on to the list include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson and How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

World Book Day is a global celebration of books and reading, and is marked in more than 100 countries worldwide.

To mark the day, school children are entitled to receive a World Book Day £1 Book Token supplied by National Book Tokens Ltd.

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