Close friendships are a heart-warming feature of many of our best-loved works of fiction. From Jane Eyre and Helen Burns’ poignant schoolgirl relationship to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn’s adventures on the Mississippi, fictional friends have supported, guided, comforted, nursed and at times betrayed the heroes and heroines of our popular and influential plays and novels. This book explores twenty-four literary friendships and, together with character studies and publication history, describes how each key relationship influences character, determines plot, promotes or disguises romance, preserves a reputation, sometimes results in betrayal, or underlines the theme of each literary work. It shows how authors from William Shakespeare to Elena Ferrante have by turns celebrated, lamented or transformed friendships throughout the ages, and how some friends – Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Holmes and Watson or even Bridget Jones and pals – have taken on creative lives beyond the bounds of their original narrative. Including a broad scope of literature spanning a period of 400 years from writers as diverse as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, John Steinbeck and Alice Walker, this book is the ideal gift for your literature-loving friend.