Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress Character List


The protagonist and narrator of the novel; "Roxana" is a nickname she earns during her time as a wealthy London courtesan, and her birth name seems to have been Susan. She gives birth to a total of eleven children, fathered by four different men (the Brewer, the Jeweller/Landlord, the Prince, and the Dutch Merchant); she is legally married twice. Roxana experiences many adventures and changes of fortune, but proves herself to be intelligent, resilient, and adaptable. She is also very beautiful, and leverages her appearance by becoming the mistress of wealthy men, and eventually building her own fortune. Roxana is capable of feeling genuine love and affection for some of her children and some of her lovers, especially the Dutch Merchant, but she is also greedy, vain, and ambitious. Because of all her lies, Roxana is also forced to live in a web of deceit and to be constantly afraid of being detected.

The Landlord/Jeweller

A wealthy man who works as a jewel merchant and also owns the home that Roxana and her first husband rent for themselves and their family. When Roxana is penniless, he tries to help her, but he is also clearly interested in a sexual relationship. Once he and Roxana are lovers, he seems to treat her fairly and kindly; the two of them live together happily first in England, and then in France. He is murdered in a failed robbery while on the road to Versailles.


Amy is a servant who is employed by Roxana during her first marriage to the Brewer; all in all, the two women spend thirty years of their lives in very close contact, often living together. Amy is smart, pragmatic, and an excellent problem-solver; she repeatedly comes to Roxana's aid in difficult situations, beginning when Roxana has no money and cannot provide for herself or her children. Amy remains very loyal to Roxana, and gets to enjoy her lifestyle as Roxana becomes extremely wealthy. Amy has a bizarre affair with the Landlord, orchestrated by Roxana during their marriage, and gives birth to a daughter; she also has a lengthy affair with a Gentleman employed by the Prince during the time that Roxana is the Prince's mistress. Amy eventually shows how cold and ruthless she can be, when she repeatedly alludes to killing Susan in order to cover up the secret of Roxana's identity, and possibly carries out this murder.

The Prince

The Prince is a German aristocrat who meets Roxana during his time at Versailles. He is entranced by her beauty, and the two of them have a romantic relationship spanning eight years (and including the birth of three children). He is very gallant, and showers Roxana with lavish gifts. When his wife dies, the Prince feels guilty for having an affair, and ends the relationship. Years later, he tries to track down Roxana because he still loves her, and is willing to marry her. However, he comes close to death himself, and repents again.

The Dutch Merchant

The Dutch Merchant is Dutch by nationality, but works primarily in Paris, where he successfully amasses a lot of wealth for himself. He helps Roxana when she is trying to move her assets back to England after the end of her relationship with the Prince, and falls in love with her. He fathers Roxana's final child, and always shows a lot of tenderness towards this child. He is eager to marry Roxana and disappointed when she will not agree; he does not want her to simply be his mistress, and this leads to a break in their relationship. When they reunite years later, he is still very loving and devoted, and does everything to make her happy, including buying aristocratic titles. His eventual marriage to Roxana should make them both happy and wealthy, but Roxana remains haunted by her past, which he seems to never be aware of.

The Quakeress

The Quaker woman is a member of a religious minority, who lives in a modest household in London and makes a living by renting part of her lodgings out as a landlady. Her husband is mysteriously absent. When Roxana decides to give up her lifestyle as a courtesan, she moves in with the Quaker woman, who becomes a close and trusted friend to her. Roxana never tells the Quaker woman the details of her past, and passes herself off as a modest and virtuous woman. However, the Quaker woman later helps Roxana to avoid being uncovered by Susan, so she clearly knows that Roxana has secrets that she is trying to keep.


Roxana's daughter and namesake; she is sometimes referred to as Roxana's eldest daughter, and sometimes as her youngest. As a young child, Susan is sent to live with her aunt and uncle, and she eventually has to go and work as a servant. She ends up working in the household of the famous courtesan Roxana; when Amy realizes who Susan is, she sends her away from the household, but also provides her with money so that she can get an education and live as a gentlewoman. Susan realizes that Amy is the woman who has provided for her and her siblings, and assumes that Amy is her long lost mother. Susan is very upset when Amy denies this, and becomes very persistent about tracking down first Amy, and then Roxana. Susan's insistence leads to her being perceived as a threat, and angers Amy; it is strongly implied that Amy murders Susan at the end of the novel.

The Brewer

Roxana's first husband, and the father of her first five children (including Susan). He is a handsome and charming man, but he is also spoiled, selfish, and foolish. He recklessly spends all of the family's money, leaving them destitute, and then disappears. He reappears years later as a soldier serving in the French army, and dies at the Battle of Mons in 1709.

Roxana's brother

A financially careless man, who eventually loses all of his money, goes bankrupt, and goes to prison. His financial losses have implications for Roxana because their father trusted him with money for Roxana when he saw that Roxana's marriage was not going well, but this ends up being lost.

The Prince's Gentleman

A servant in the household of the German Prince; he has a lengthy affair with Amy during the time when Roxana and the Prince are living together, and when Amy returns to France years later, the two of them reunite and renew their relationship.

The Jew

A jewel merchant in Paris; when Roxana is trying to liquidate her assets before moving back to England, the Dutch merchant thinks the Jew might buy some of her jewels. However, the Jew recognizes that the jewels have been missing since the death of the Landlord/Jeweller and becomes very suspicious of Roxana. He wants to prosecute her and uncover that her marriage to the Jeweller was never legal; he later tries to rob a banker, and is forced to flee from Paris.

The Sea Captain and the Sea Captain's Wife

When Roxana and the Dutch Merchant plan to move to Holland after their marriage, they are going to sail aboard a vessel, and spend some time at the home of the Captain and his wife first. There, Roxana runs in to Susan (who is a close friend of the Sea Captain's Wife), and narrowly avoids detection.

The Elderly Aunt

The aunt of the Brewer, an elderly widow who has very little money. When Roxana has been abandoned by the Brewer, and is desperately trying to provide for her children, no one from her husband's family shows her any kindness except for the aunt. Unfortunately, the aunt doesn't have enough money to do much, but she does help with the plan to force the children on to their aunt and uncle.

The Aunt & Uncle

The sister of the brewer, and her husband. The aunt is a cold-hearted and selfish woman who does not want to help her brother's children after he abandons them and Roxana. Her husband is more compassionate, and intercedes on their behalf.

The Poor Woman

During Roxana's first marriage, she provides money and help to a poor woman; when Roxana herself loses all of her money, this woman tries to help her, and contributes to the plan for Roxana's children to be sent to a new home.