George Adams is one of the local boys who enters the Forrester property with Mrs. Forrester’s permission to fish. He is the son of a gentleman rancher from Lowell, Massachusetts, and is the one who directly asks Mrs. Forrester for permission that day. Like Niel, George despises Ivy Peters and is upset that he disrupts their day of fun. A few years later, George and his family return to Massachusetts after a number of crop failures.
Mrs. Beasley is Sweet Water’s telephone operator. She overhears Mrs. Forrester’s drunken call to Frank Ellinger after his marriage.
Black Tom is the African American servant of Judge Pommeroy. The judge lets the Forresters use him as a server during their dinner parties. Black Tom also helps care for the Captain after his second stroke.
The son of the German tailor in Sweet Water and the brother of Rheinhold Blum, Adolph is one of the boys who fish on the Forrester property. Like his brother, Adolph tries to sell the game he hunts and fish he catches to various local citizens, including Mrs. Forrester. Adolph also observes Mrs. Forrester and Frank Ellinger when they have an intimate moment in the cedar grove, but vows not to tell her secret, in part because of her respectful manner toward him. When Captain Forrester dies, Adolph brings Mrs. Forrester a box of yellow roses. The gesture deeply affects her.
The son of Sweet Water’s German tailor, and brother of Adolph Blum. Rheinhold is another of the boys who play on the Forrester property. When Niel wants to retrieve the woodpecker Ivy Peters harms, he stands on Rheinhold’s shoulders to get into the tree. It is implied that Rheinhold and his brother fish and hunt to make money.
Henry Collins is the wealthy, miserly, and cantankerous Englishman who marries Mrs. Forrester some years after the death of the Captain. He lives with her in Argentina until her death.
The president of the Colorado & Utah Railway, Cyrus Dalzell is a loyal friend to the Forresters. After Captain Forrester has his first stroke, Cyrus visits their home and offers his support. He continues to visit regularly and makes the Captain’s beloved sundial for him.
Dr. Dennison is the local physician in Sweet Water. He sets Niel’s broken arm after Niel’s fall from the tree, and he takes care of Captain Forrester during his illnesses.
A resident of Denver, Frank Ellinger is apparently a man of means. He is known for his wild bachelor ways, and Niel does not trust him. Over the course of the novel, it is revealed that Mrs. Forrester has been having an affair with Frank. The two send letters to each other on a regular basis. The couple are alone, apparently on intimate terms, several times. Mrs. Forrester becomes distraught when she learns that Frank has married Constance Ogden.
Ed Elliott is one of the boys who plays on the Forresters’ property. His father owns a shoe store in Sweet Water. As a young man, Ed attends the awkward dinner party Mrs. Forrester gives. At the end of the novel, Ed is working as a mining engineer when he runs into Niel in Chicago. Over dinner, Ed tells Niel how Mrs. Forrester lived her life after she left Sweet Water.
Captain Daniel Forrester
One of the novel’s primary characters, Captain Forrester is symbolic of the men who built up the American West. After the Civil War, the young Forrester went West to work as a supply driver for a freighting company. While driving supplies from Nebraska City to Cherry Creek, he found the spot on the hill near Sweet Water, Nebraska, where he eventually made his home. Forrester bought the land from the railroad company and eventually made his fortune building the railroads that crisscrossed the country.
Twelve years after purchasing the property, Forrester was able to build his house on the land and settled there with his second wife, Marian Forrester. (His first wife was an invalid until her death.) When he first lived in Sweet Water, Forrester was still active in building railroads, and he and his wife spent part of the year living in Denver and Colorado Springs. After he had an accident in Colorado in which he fell off a horse, Forrester no longer took on new building contracts. He lived off his investments, which included a bank, mining interests, and other business concerns. As he traveled less, Sweet Water became his home and a place where he found serenity growing flowers and enjoying nature.
Over the course of the novel, Captain Forrester grows weaker and suffers two strokes. While he still has significant friends like Cyrus Dalzell and Judge Pommeroy, the Captain, as both a builder and a man of honor, symbolizes a dying way of life. Forrester loses much of his income when a Denver bank he invested in fails, and he uses his own money to ensure that depositors get all their funds back. Because of these circumstances, Mrs. Forrester is compelled to take on a larger role in her husband’s care. It is unclear if the Captain knows his wife has cheated on him with Frank Ellinger. When Niel reflects on their marriage, he realizes that the Captain is the one who kept his wife grounded—a fact he does not fully appreciate until Forrester’s death.
Marian Forrester See Mrs. Forrester
The woman at the heart of A Lost Lady, Marian Forrester is the much younger second wife of Captain Daniel Forrester. From Niel’s point of view for much of the novel, she is an ideal woman, kind to everyone in the town, mindful of the social order, and a wonderful wife and hostess. She has a vitality and youthfulness about her that attracts many boys and men, even as she ages. Mrs. Forrester is depicted as needing the attention of men and making poor choices when she has been confronted with considerable responsibility.
Captain and Mrs. Forrester live in Sweet Water part of the year early in their marriage. Mrs. Forrester is especially fond of young Niel, but is nice to all the local residents. She finds her own identity in being socially and physically active, especially when she and Captain Forrester live in Denver and Colorado Springs for part of the year. Mrs. Forrester grows increasingly unhappy after the Captain’s accident and subsequent strokes. She has an affair with Frank Ellinger and develops a noticeable drinking problem. When her husband loses his fortune, she continues to care for him but becomes more desperate as she is forced to take on more duties in the home. She breaks down several times, and Niel and his uncle help take care of her and the Captain.
After Captain Forrester’s death, Niel watches Mrs. Forrester develop more serious problems, and he realizes that the Captain was her anchor. She takes up with Ivy Peters and unceremoniously dumps Judge Pommeroy as her lawyer after years of his loyal service to her. She invites many young men to her home for dinner parties and basks in their attention. Niel later learns that she eventually went West, married a rich Englishman named Henry Collins, and lived in Buenos Aires for the rest of her life. Niel is not quite sure what to make of Mrs. Forrester at times, but he understands that she has greatly influenced his life and the way he views women. He is grateful that she was cared for at the end of her life.
Thaddeus Grimes is one of the local boys who plays on the Forrester property. The red-haired son of the local butcher, he is grateful for Mrs. Forrester’s kind treatment.
The primary character of A Lost Lady, Niel Herbert spends his youth and young adulthood fascinated by Mrs. Forrester. His parents were from Kentucky, and his mother died when he was five years old. The family moved to Sweet Water to make a fortune, but his father lost his property and worked in an office. When Niel is a teenager, his father moves to Denver to take a job and Niel moves in with his uncle, Judge Pommeroy, to read law. It is because of his uncle that Niel has social standing in Sweet Water, although Niel has friends across the social spectrum. He later decides he wants to be an architect; he leaves Sweet Water to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returns for summer vacations but eventually lives elsewhere.
A kind, thoughtful, sensitive, and compassionate young man, Niel often puts the needs of others before himself. When Ivy Peters cuts the eyes of a woodpecker early in the novel, Niel goes up into a tree to put the animal out of its misery but falls and breaks his arm before completing the task. As a young adult, Niel helps his uncle run his business and assists the Forresters through their various crises and illnesses. For example, when Captain Forrester has his second stroke, Niel leaves school for a year to help take care of the Forresters. He also runs his uncle’s legal office when the judge becomes ill. Although Niel never forgets the vivaciousness of Mrs. Forrester, he dislikes her dishonesty and lack of loyalty to both her husband and his uncle. Still, at the end of the novel, Niel is happy to hear that she was cared for by a husband until her death.
Ben Keezer is the Forresters’ hired man. He helps them with chores, transportation, and other household tasks.
Maidy See Mrs. Forrester
Mary works as a cook for the Forresters until her marriage to Joe Pucelik. She is a native of Bohemia.
A young lady from a family in Denver, Constance Ogden is a guest at the dinner party the Forresters throw early in the novel. At that point, she has just finished school in the East and is returning home. Although Mrs. Forrester tries to interest her in Niel, Constance becomes infatuated with Frank Ellinger, whom she eventually marries.
Mr. Orville Ogden
Mr. Ogden is the father of Constance Ogden. Although he is a faithful husband, he is also impressed by Mrs. Forrester. After the death of Captain Forrester, he asks Niel to speak to the judge about getting her government pension increased. Mr. Ogden is distressed when he learns how far she has fallen by allowing the shady Ivy Peters to take over her legal and business interests.
Constance’s mother and Orville’s wife, Mrs. Ogden is also a guest at the Forresters’ dinner party. Although described as unattractive, Niel finds her friendlier and more sympathetic than her daughter.
Marian Ormsby See Mrs. Forrester
Annie Peters is the sister of Ivy Peters. She attends an awkward dinner party at Mrs. Forrester’s home, along with Ivy, Niel, and a number of the town’s young men.
Nicknamed Poison Ivy, Ivy Peters comes from a prominent local family and is a few years older than Niel and the other boys who play on the Forresters’ property. As a young man, Ivy has a reputation for cruelty to animals. Early in the novel, he deliberately blinds a woodpecker that bothers him. The boys, including Niel and George, do not like Ivy, and a few fear him. Ivy eventually becomes a lawyer and shady businessman. Niel has several encounters with Ivy over the years, and does not respect him. After Captain Forrester has his first stroke and Niel goes away to college, Ivy leases part of the Forrester property, drains the marsh, and acts with impunity and privilege toward the Forresters. Mrs. Forrester will not let Niel interfere with Ivy, because she and the Captain are dependent on the income from the leased property. Upon the death of the Captain, Mrs. Forrester hires Ivy as her lawyer and becomes involved with him. Niel is disgusted when he observes Mrs. Forrester letting Ivy touch her intimately. Ivy eventually buys the Forrester place and marries a woman from Wyoming.
Judge Pommeroy is a prominent lawyer in Sweet Water, and he is cut from the same cloth as his friend Captain Forrester. He is the maternal uncle to Niel Herbert and takes charge of caring for him when Niel’s father leaves to take a job in Denver. The judge gives Niel a place to live and a job working in his law offices until he goes to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is very supportive of Niel’s life choices. Judge Pommeroy values honesty and integrity, and is a loyal friend to people like Captain Forrester. The judge looks down upon lawyers like Ivy Peters, although he realizes that such men are emblematic of the future. After the Captain’s death, Judge Pommeroy is extremely hurt by Mrs. Forrester’s abrupt decision to drop him as her lawyer in favor of Peters.
Joe Pucelik is the boyfriend of Mary, the Forresters’ Bohemian cook. He eventually marries Mary.
Cousin Sadie is a poor relation of Niel’s family who comes from Kentucky to run his father’s household some time after his mother’s death. She is a spinster and Niel does not think she keeps the house in good order. However, Sadie is also described as helpful to neighbors.
A young man and local business owner, Joe Simpson is a guest at Mrs. Forrester’s awkward dinner party.
Molly Tucker is Sweet Water’s seamstress.
The Weaver Twins
The Weaver twins are two of the boys who fish on the Forrester property. They are the sons of Sweet Water’s grocer, and are described as plump and brown. They always eat rye bread and hard cheese on these outings. This habit earns the contempt of Thaddeus Grimes.
Sara Constantakis, Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Novels, Volume 33, Gale-Cengage Learning, 2010