The Middle Children of Literature
Here at Quirk Books we’re…stuck in the middle with you! It’s National Middle Child Day today and to celebrate we’re talking about our favorite middle children of literature. So settle in and pay attention to us. (Please.)
Based on the series’ author Laura Ingalls Wilder, the character of Laura Ingalls is a quintessential middle child. Little House in the Big Woods, the first book of the series, takes place when the youngest of the three Ingalls daughters is a baby – setting the trajectory of this eight book series in motion with almost the exact moment Laura becomes a middle child. If Laura Ingalls Wilder had chosen to write this series as an autobiography rather than fiction, she wouldn’t have included baby Carrie until Little House on the Prairie or On the Banks of Plum Creek – the third and fourth books in the series. Coincidence? We think not.
Louisa May Alcott was also inspired by her own relationship with her siblings, basing the bond the four March sisters share on her own relationship with her sisters. It comes as no surprise that Jo March, the second of the four sisters in Little Women, has such a knack for storytelling and an attic writing space. After all, Louisa May Alcott was also the second of four sisters. And not only did she have a knack for storytelling, she wrote Little Women over a short span of months, followed quickly by Little Men. The novel has been adapted several times, including as a Broadway musical in 2005 starring Sutton Foster. Christopher Columbus!
While J.K. Rowling is the oldest sibling in her family, that shouldn’t stop her from writing a fantastic middle child. As the little brother to Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, and George, it would be easy for Ron Weasley to get lost in the fray. You know how your parents name every one of your siblings’ names before they remember your own? Well imagine having five older brothers who all went to the same boarding school. Ron even had to use Charlie’s old chipped wand while at Hogwarts – a wand hanging on for dear life with the help of some Spellotape. It’s his close bond to his younger sister Ginny that really distinguishes him in the family as both one of many middle children and the protective older brother. Hands off, Harry.
We’ve saved the best for last. Details about Jane Austen’s personal life are famously scarce, but we do know that she had five older brothers and both a younger brother and younger sister. So it’s no wonder that one of Austen’s most well known protagonists is a middle child herself. And while we could look to the source material or the countless film and television adaptations, our favorite take on Elizabeth Bennet’s middle child-ness comes from Bernie Su and Kate Rorick’s web series “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” The episode where Lizzie introduces her siblings is titled “My Sisters: From Problematic to Practically Perfect.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Lizzie.