And Then There Were None


The following details of the characters are based on the original novel. Backstories, backgrounds and names vary with differing international adaptations, based on the rules, censorship, cultural norms, etc.

  • Anthony James Marston killed two young children (John and Lucy Combes) while driving recklessly, for which he felt no real remorse nor did he accept any personal responsibility, complaining only that his driving license had been suspended as a result. He was the first island victim, poisoned with potassium cyanide slipped into his drink while the guests were listening to the fateful gramophone recording. His amorality make him the first victim.
  • Mrs Ethel Rogers, the cook/housekeeper and Thomas Rogers' wife, described as a pale and ghostlike woman who walks in mortal fear. She was dominated by her bullying husband, who withheld the medicine of their former employer (an elderly spinster, Miss Jennifer Brady) to collect an inheritance they knew she had left them in her will. Mrs Rogers was haunted by the crime for the rest of her life, and was Owen's second victim, dying in her sleep peacefully from an overdose of chloral hydrate in her brandy.
  • General John Gordon Macarthur, a retired World War I war hero, who sent his late wife's lover (a younger officer, Arthur Richmond) to his death by assigning him to a mission where it was practically guaranteed he would not survive. Leslie Macarthur had mistakenly put the wrong letters in the envelopes on one occasion when she wrote to both men at the same time. The general fatalistically accepts that no one will leave the island alive, which he tells Vera Claythorne. Shortly thereafter, he is bludgeoned while sitting along the shore.
  • Thomas Rogers, the butler and Ethel Rogers' husband. He dominated his weak-willed wife and they killed their former elderly employer by withholding her medicine, causing the woman to die from heart failure and inheriting the money she bequeathed them in her will. He was killed when bludgeoned with an axe as he cut firewood in the woodshed.
  • Emily Caroline Brent, a rigid, repressed elderly spinster holding harsh moralistic principles. She accepted the vacation on Soldier Island largely due to financial constraints. Years earlier, she had dismissed her young maid, Beatrice Taylor, for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Beatrice, who had already been rejected by her parents for the same reason, drowned herself in a river, which Miss Brent considered an even worse sin. She refuses to discuss the matter with the gentlemen, but later confides what happened to Vera Claythorne, who tells the others shortly before Miss Brent is found dead herself. Having been sedated with chloral hydrate in her coffee, leaving her disoriented, she was left alone in the kitchen and injected in the neck with potassium cyanide with one of Dr Armstrong's hypodermic syringes (the "bee sting"). Right before her own murder, due to the chloral hydrate she has ingested, she has a lurid daydream about Beatrice and imagines hearing the girl's footsteps (they are actually the footsteps of the murderer).
  • Dr Edward George Armstrong, a Harley Street doctor, responsible for the death of a patient, Louisa Mary Clees, after he operated on her while drunk, many years earlier. An accidental revelation of Armstrong's criminal negligence in Clees's death is one of the triggers for Wargrave to act as he does. Armstrong foolishly trusts Wargrave, and, while rendezvousing with the judge on a rocky cliff, is pushed into the sea and drowns. His body goes missing for a while, leading the others to believe he is the killer, but his corpse washes ashore expeditiously at the end of the novel, leading to the climax.
  • William Henry Blore, a former police inspector and now a private investigator, accused of falsifying his testimony in court for a bribe from a dangerous criminal gang, which resulted in an innocent man, James Landor, being convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Landor, who had a wife and young child, died in prison. Blore and a drunken old salt are travelling on the same train carriage at the beginning of the novel. The old sailor leaves the train before Blore, and accurately predicts a coming storm, adding that the day of judgement is close at hand. The comment is dismissed by Blore but will later prove prophetic. Using the alias "Davis" and claiming to have arrived from South Africa, as he was instructed to do by Isaac Morris, who hired him for "security" work, he is confronted about his true name which was revealed on the gramophone recording, and acknowledges his true identity. He denies the accusation against him from the gramophone recording but later privately admits the truth to Lombard. His skull was crushed by a bear-shaped clock dropped from Vera's bedroom window onto the terrace below.
  • Philip Lombard, a soldier of fortune. Literally down to his last square meal, he comes to the island with a loaded revolver, as suggested by Isaac Morris. Lombard is accused of causing the deaths of a number of East African tribesmen, after stealing their food and leaving them to starve. He, along with Marston, are the only guests to openly and immediately confirm that the accusations against them are true; neither feels remorse. Lombard fulfilled the ninth referenced verse of the rhyme, shot to death on the beach by Vera, who believed him to be the murderer. Of all the "guests" he is the only one to theorize that "U.N. Owen" might be Wargrave, but the others reject this and it does him no good.
  • Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, a cool, efficient, resourceful former governess who has taken mostly summer secretarial jobs since her last job as a governess ended in the death of her charge, Cyril Hamilton, whom she intentionally allowed to swim out to sea – as the child had wanted to do but had theretofore been denied as too dangerous – and drown. She did this so her lover, Cyril's uncle Hugo Hamilton, could become the family heir, inherit the estate and marry her, which had been their original plan before Cyril's birth changed things. She swam out to sea to "save" Cyril to make it seem he had disobeyed her – as she had consistently told him it was too dangerous – but knowing she would not arrive in time. Her plan backfired when Hugo, however, who loved his nephew, abandoned her after he somehow sensed what she had done. Ironically, he inherited the family wealth due to Vera's actions but became a miserable drunkard and unwitting catalyst in bringing Vera to Indian Island, due to a fateful conversation he had aboard a ship while traveling, in which one night he and a fellow traveler -- Wargrave -- were alone in a drawing room and Hugo, inebriated, recounted the details of what had happened. This was sufficient information for the judge to manage to trace Vera, who has regretted her decision ever since but feels little or no remorse, recalling Cyril as "spoilt" and "whiny". After shooting Lombard in what she believed was self-defense, she returns to the house, relieved she has survived. When she goes to her room, she finds a readied noose, complete with chair beneath it, suspended from a hook hanging from the ceiling. In what Wargrave describes as a post-traumatic state, she sees and hears Hugo, her former lover, encouraging her and adjusts the noose round her neck and kicks the chair away, fulfilling the rhyme's final verse ("One little Soldier Boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none").
  • Justice Lawrence John Wargrave, a retired judge, known as a "hanging judge" for liberally awarding the death penalty in different murder cases, and is revealed at the end to be the killer on the island. Having a hidden desire of a sadistic urge of causing death only on guilty persons and finding himself with only a short time to live, he creates a game in which, as island owner "U. N. Owen" (a homonym of "Unknown") he entices various people who have been responsible for the death(s) of other people, but escaped justice, to a secret location, to be a murderer himself, and kill his "guests" in a way that would leave a presumably unsolvable mystery. He pretends to be one of the guests, and is duly accused on the gramophone recording of judicial murder as a result of giving biased summation and jury directions leading to a hanging which was widely believed at the time to be a deliberate miscarriage of justice, although later it turns out that the defendant had been guilty of the murder of which he was charged. Wargrave fakes his own death as the sixth murder on the island, with Dr Armstrong's help, creating an enormous red herring that fools everyone, and then kills Armstrong once the doctor's verdict of his death is accepted by the other visitors. After Vera's death, Wargrave rearranges some furniture in the house, writes his confession which he throws in the sea, and shoots himself in accordance with the description of his death in some of the other guests' diaries, by using an elaborate rubber cord contraption to fire the gun and let it drop a sufficient distance from him to avoid suspicion. He admits that he tossed the confession inside the bottle into the sea in the "pitiful human" need for some posthumous recognition.
  • Isaac Morris, a lawyer hired by "Mr Owen" (Wargrave) to purchase the island on his behalf, and who is deceased before the story begins. He told the locals to ignore distress signals for a week. He arranged for the financially desperate Lombard to come to the island armed, and to meet "Mr Owen" for a later payment of 100 guineas (105 GBP). Like the guests on the island, Morris is responsible for someone's death. Through his narcotics dealings, he caused the addiction and suicide of a young woman, who just happened to be the daughter a friend of Justice Wargrave. The detectives discuss the death of Morris, from an overdose of sleeping medication, as does Wargrave's confession. Manipulated by his hypochondria, and to help with his "gastric juices", Morris trusted "Mr Owen" sufficiently to accept the latter's lethal cocktail of pills, assured they would improve his health. Morris is actually the first victim chronologically, dying before Marston.
  • Fred Narracott, the boatman who delivered the guests to the island. After doing so he does not appear again in the story, although Inspector Maine notes it was Narracott who, sensing something seriously amiss, returned to the island as soon as the weather allowed, before he was supposed to, and found the bodies. In one movie version of the story he plays the comic relief as the less than smart boatman who takes Vera Claythorne and Phillip Lombard away from the island.
  • Sir Thomas Legge and Inspector Maine, two Scotland Yard detectives who discuss the case in an extremely brief epilogue. It is clearly implied that the police have not solved the case by the time Wargrave's message is found.

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