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The Secret History - Characters - Francis Abernathy

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Francis Abernathy: | Favorite Excerpts | Leave a Comment | Comments | Videos

FRANCIS (m,f) "Frenchman" from the Late Latin name Franciscus. Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order of monks, was the son of a wealthy merchant who renounced his father's wealth and devoted his life to the poor.

Later in his life Francis apparently received the stigmata. Another saint of this name was Saint Francis Xavier, a missionary to eastern Asia.

Two other famous bearers were philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon, and explorer and admiral Sir Francis Drake. This name is occasionally used for girls.

Favorite Excerpts

Only the day before Francis, in a swish of black cashmere and cigarette smoke, had brushed past me in a corridor. For a moment, as his arm touched mine, he was a creature of flesh and blood, but the next he was a hallucination again, a figment of the imagination stalking down the hallway as heedless of me as ghosts, in their shadowy rounds, are said to be heedless of the living.


"Once, to my delight, I even saw him wearing pince-nez." - The Secret History

I saw Francis Abernathy stalking across the meadow like a black bird, his coat flapping dark and crowlike in the wind.

And Francis: His mother, when she had him, was only seventeen - a thin-blooded, capricious girl with red hair and a rich daddy, who ran off with the drummer for Vance Vane and his Musical Swains. She was home in three weeks, and the marriage annulled in six; and, as Francis is fond of saying, the grandparents brought them up like brother and sister, him and his mother, brought them up in such a magnanimous style that even the gossips were impressed - English nannies and private schools, summers in Switzerland, winters in France. Francis Abernathy was from Boston and, from most accounts, quite wealthy.

He reached over and got a deck of cards from a box on the end table--Tiffany cards, with sky-blue backs and Francis's monogram on them in gold--and began to shuffle through them expertly. "We could play bezique, or euchre if you'd rather," he said, the blue and gold dissolving from his hands in a blur.

Tiffany playing cards

The third boy was the most exotic of the set. Angular and elegant, he was precariously thin, with nervous hands and a shrewd albino face and a short, fiery mop of the reddest hair I had ever seen. I thought (erroneously) that he dressed like Alfred Douglas, or the Comte de Montesquiou: beautifully starchy shirts with French cuffs; magnificent neckties; a black greatcoat that billowed behind him as he walked and made him look like a cross between a student prince and Jack the Ripper.

Alfred Lord Douglas (Bosie) Comte de Montesquiou French Cuffs


Poor Francis. Those are the first words that come to mind when I think of him. Shame. He's immensely likeable, but always seems so utterly without hope in everything he does

5:49 am, thursday, may 4, 2006
i think my favourite character is, in the end, francis. he's weak, and he is silly, but he's a gay, prissy goth and i've loved him since the first time i read this book, and i don't think i'll ever be able to love him any less. he's just so.. francis. kind-of-pretentious, hypochondriac, snobbish. but he had a good heart, and it was nice to see that, in the end, he & richard still remained friends, that there was no grudge whatsoever between them. it broke my heart when he told richard he was going to marry priscilla, and it also broke my heart when camilla started saying something francis never getting back the money he gave to charles, and francis was all "it's okay". BECAUSE HE LOVED HIM, DAMNIT.

6:54 am, saturday, december 31, 2005
I love him
- vivien

6:46 pm, friday, november 25, 2005
I think i love him

- Meme

12:18 am, thursday, november 17, 2005
I'm afraid that I'll have kind of agree with Tim when it comes to my opinion on Francis. He's a bit overrated. I think that the main fascination of Francis is that he's this debonair gay man who is highly cultured and mysterious. The fact was that he was lazy, spoiled, and overly dramatic. I must admit, that made him interesting. I found the whole twelve year old analysis thing hilarious. I found him entertaining, and I did like him, don't get me wrong, but I also think that he's a bit overrated on this site. I do like how in character he was all throughout the book, which is probably what made me like him so much. Francis is easily a person you could get carried away with, but Donna Tartt kept his personality in check, and that made me happy. I just liked how he was lazy and overly dramatic until the very end of the book, it made me happy. I'm afraid I'd have to dissagree with Tim when he says "there is no trace in him ot suggest he is a man" because he is. He just sounds like such a man. A gay man, but a man none the less. And come on, we all love gay men! Lesbians are great too, don't get me wrong. I'm getting off topic... I do agree that Francis can't really be grouped into the same league as a hero, since he was simply there for appearance and humor.
- Mitchester

8:09 pm, monday, october 10, 2005
what the hell is wrong with you people??? Francis is by FAR the worst character in the book, he slows up proceeding with his constant moaning...also he makes passes at Richard, which is basically harrassing him....he is sarcastic, a snob, there is no trace in him to suggest he is a people can even put him in the same league as a heroic, god-like figure is beyond me...francis is a weedy, attention-seeking, insincere, cynical, spoilt, irritating little pain in the arse, I could never ever get on with someone like that.

Now Henry, that is a man I admire.

Richard also is great.
- Tim

7:43 pm, sunday, september 25, 2005
I'm like he, so fantastic so elegant so dark
- essex

4:47 am, monday, august 1, 2005
There are many words for Francis. "Charming" may be among the most apt. He was easily the darling of the group-in a way not even the only girl was.
- sybaryte

3:16 pm, tuesday, july 19, 2005
Francis was light relief, and was probably the funniest character, though Bunny had his moments. He came across as being quite seductive, though not necessarily good looking...just sexy

- sophie

3:45 pm, thursday, june 9, 2005
So exotic...
- Baronessa

8:20 am, sunday, october 31, 2004
Hmm, you know, Francis is an especially difficult character to pick an actor for. I think the only choice I really agree with on the voting list would be Gabriel Mann. Now, I have never heard of this guy before and have no idea what his acting is like, but from the pictures I've seen he's the only one of the lot that to me looks at all physically like I imagine Francis - very long slender, angular body frame, long elegant hands/fingers - long elegant, almost old-fashioned features. There's also a hint of campness about the way he stands and if I'm seeing right he does appear to have reddish hair - although this could be dyed? There is a particularly striking picture of him from vanity fair (look on google image search) of him sitting well dressed, but barefoot in a rowing boat in a lake, legs crossed in campish position, a cigarette dangling lazily but elegantly from his long fingered hand - it's almost like seeing Francis out on that lake by his aunts house in the country -lazing luxuriously barefoot in that rowing boat! The likeness is uncanny!

- Jo

6:53 pm, tuesday, august 17, 2004
Two words: Alan Cumming. Haughty and yet vulnerable, slinky, sinister but also very chraming and refined. In some ways he's also the most tragic of the bunch, doomed as he is to pine for his friends who don't reciprocate his feelings.
- Lee-Yan

11:20 pm, monday, august 16, 2004
I adored him happy

- kitty

5:39 pm, sunday, august 8, 2004
I think Francis was the most intriguing character of the book. I really find him attractive (he's a red-head!), and his look is absolutely gorgeous. He trikes me as a quite "english" character, I don't know, but, I'd see him very good in an expensive british college...
Well, I've also got a thing for gay charcaters, and I felt that he would turn out to be gay since the first description. I would have loved to see him with would have been great. I think Francis is also the sexiest of the lot, at least for my taste. I'd like to meet a guy like him!

- Viola

9:04 am, thursday, july 8, 2004
I like him very much
I think he's the most interesting character of this book (it may be because he's gay_
- flo

2:05 pm, saturday, july 3, 2004
i love him more than anyone, i would never have said no to him.

- me

12:03 am, wednesday, june 16, 2004
Francis and Richard were by far my favorite characters. I found them both to be oddly sexy, especially in the seduction scene. Throughout the book, I was most curious to see how things would (or wouldn't) work out for them, and they made more of an impact on me than the all of the other characters combined.
- iheartyossarian

12:37 am, sunday, june 13, 2004
i thought he was wonderful and i guess i sort of fell in love with him. i just wanted to step into the novel and make him happy. and now that i saw a picture of actor gabriel mann i just knew that that's the way francis look. he's just so beautiful

12:26 am, wednesday, may 12, 2004
Francis is definately my favorite character. I could read an entire book about Francis alone.
- PinkLemonade

7:33 am, friday, april 9, 2004
Francis was by far my favorite character. He had this funny hysterical thing about himself and sometimes he was just hilarious. He was the one who always wanted to bring some (sexual) action in, but in a way he was very unhappy and torn up on the inside. He wasn't a bad person, but he didn't really know what to do. In a way you could say he was a modern interpretation of Lord Alfred Douglas.

- Beauty is terror

7:29 am, sunday, march 7, 2004
Francis is intriguing and the most caring person - especially toward Charles.

- obs

3:20 am, saturday, august 16, 2003
Francis was definately my favourite character in TSH. I loved all the characters to bits at the start of the book, but then everything went wrong, especially with Henry, who I don't like to think about anymore because he makes my head hurt... anyway, Francis was the only character who didn't turn out to be an evil bastard (apart from Richard) and he's just a nice guy, but in an interesting, deep and almost dark kind of way. I was so sad for him at the end.

- Anonymous

1:51 pm, tuesday, july 8, 2003
Francis was my favourite character; he always tried to break the ice. Just when you thought that you hadn't heard from him, he pops up with something hilarious. Together with Richard, he was the truest friend to the others. He cared about everyone, in his own way, to the same degree.

- glenda

4:28 pm, saturday, june 7, 2003
I LOVE Francis!!! He's so... what shall I say? Enthusiastic? Funny? Such a fruitcake ( wink - agree to Charles)? I mean, I nearly exploded, when he kissed Richard. And then the thing about Charles... Francis was always good for a surprise. And even when everyone else was going compleatly caught up in their problems, Francis was the one to bring some fun by having a heart-atack or something .. You know, everyone in my family knows every detail about Francis by now... although they all refused to read the book (I must have gotten on their nerves somehow...)
Yey, Francis and Charles rule! Priscilla can go to hell!
By the way. PLEASE visit my homepage on The Secret History. Not finished yet. It was only opened a week ago... But if you go there and send me some things you may have written about TSH, I'd be very greatful.
See you all
P.S. The page is German ... but there's a lot of english stuff under "Fun"
P. P. S. Live forever !

- Rike

2:33 pm, saturday, february 15, 2003
Francis is my favourite character. He's certainly a wildean type. He can be Lord Henry Wotten from Dorian Gray, Lord Arthur Goring from An Ideal Husband... He's compared with Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas) and has a long number of wildean virtues. He's elegant, ironic, cultured, hypochondriac and very human. I love him, with his black cashmere and cigarette smoke, always too elegant and so vulnerable!
- Guinevere Darcy

2:22 pm, sunday, february 2, 2003
Francis had a less disturbed personality than many of the characters; his anxiety, hypochondria, and flightiness were evenly weighed with his sarcasm, humor, and sociability. Francis, although painfully trying to come to terms with his own sexuality, would have been alright. The largest obstacle Francis had to overcome in the end were the arrangements made by his family following his suicide attempt. Francis was basically a good person...
- Judy

9:24 pm, friday, january 24, 2003
i think francis' seduction of richard is one of the most touching and erotic pieces of prose i have ever read. similarly francis' mention of the incidence in relation to charles is especially moving. you can believe that in richard he was attracted to an innocence that the others, including himself, did not have.

apart from that he was a humerous character; almost a light relief amongst the others.
- jessie

11:23 am, monday, december 30, 2002
he 's alright
- senay

8:46 am, thursday, december 26, 2002
In a lot of ways, Francis was the most human of the lot, and also the most affected. There's something interesting in his lack of relationships outside the group. Each of them had someone to go to, but Francis did not seem to trust anyone.
Sarah Jane

3:56 pm, sunday, december 1, 2002
i'm in love with francis, barefoot with his way to short trousers smoking.
- jeanette

5:33 am, sunday, october 20, 2002
By far my favourite character. I've always been intrigued by the romantic types.

- Polly

10:51 am, wednesday, december 5, 2001
interesting and sexy
- ysabella

3:54 pm, saturday, november 3, 2001
Francis is by far the most bubbly of the bunch. He uses much of his secretiveness as a lure and an enigma.
- sean

2:24 am, saturday, september 29, 2001
The most normal, regular person of the classics, tragic gang. Helped everyone, got his heart destroyed by Charles multiple times, got his life destroyed by Henry absurd games and still has Richard and Camila as life-long friends.

I can't entirely agree with Tim. Sure, there are disliking characteristics in Francis, but to hold Henry in such high esteem is almost satirical. Henry is the most manipulative character in this book. He strings Richard along the entire first half of the book to "discover" what happened to the farmer (Richard is an entirely different discussion) and how he engrained into everyone's mind that the only way to get Bunny to stop was to m*rder him. The aftermath of this leaves everyone in a downward spiral, and in the end, leaving them to deal with the lifelong aftermath of it all. Now does this mean everyone is innocent, no. At least Francis shows some guilt or even humanity (I mean this could even be looked into further, cause I don't believe any of them felt genuine remorse), but Henry has stated that he feels carefree, almost a type of freedom from these inhumane acts. Now I'm not saying that Tim agrees with Henry's actions, but to put him on a pedestal kind of defeats the whole purpose of the book, I feel. Honestly, this can be applied to all of them. I believe many people love to romanticize them, but let's be honest, every single one of them no matter how "likable" they were, did terrible things. -H

ahhhh Francis, oh Francis, he’s just such a character, you know what I mean?