Anna is the main protagonist of the novel, appearing as a character in the "Free Women" sections and as the author of the four notebooks. She is a divorced single mother who lives in London, and she has written one very successful novel, about which she now feels ambivalent.
Molly is Anna's closest friend, and the two women have known each other for years. Molly has a son, Tommy, with her ex-husband, Richard. She mainly works as an actress.
Son of Molly and Richard; Tommy is a conflicted and depressed young man whose suicide attempt is a major plot point in the novel. After the attempt, he is blinded.
Molly's ex-husband and the father of Tommy. Richard is remarried to Marion, with whom he has additional children. Although Richard experimented with radical politics in his youth, he has become a very wealthy businessman who is conservative in his politics and worldview.
Michael is Anna's former lover; the two of them are involved in a romantic relationship for a five-year period, and Anna is devastated when the relationship ends. Michael is married and has children with his wife.
A figure who appears in the black notebook, Willi is a German man who has a relationship with Anna during her time in Africa. He functions as a stand-in for Max, Anna's ex-husband and the father of her daughter.
Anna's daughter, the product of her relationship with her ex-husband, Max.
Anna's ex-husband and the father of her daughter. He appears in some of the notebooks as himself, and he is also the model for the character Willi from the black notebook.
Richard's second wife and the stepmother of Tommy. She is not considered to be very intelligent, and she suffers from a drinking problem.
A figure in the black notebook, Paul serves as a RAF pilot stationed in Africa. He and Anna have one sexual encounter, and he is killed in an accident in Africa.
Ted and Jimmy
Two characters in the black notebook section; they are both young British men stationed in Africa as RAF pilots. They become part of the same social group as Anna and Willi due to their interest in Leftist politics.
A character in the black notebooks; he is a colonial man who works as a laborer in Africa and becomes involved in Leftist politics with the rest of the group. George has been having an affair with a local African woman and has fathered a child with her.
A character in the black notebook, Maryrose is an attractive young colonial woman who has lived in Rhodesia all her life.
Mr. and Mrs. Boothby
A British couple that manages the Mashopi Hotel in Rhodesia.
A character in the yellow notebook/the Shadow of a Third, who shares many similarities with Anna herself. She is a divorced single mother living in London who works as a writer at a magazine and is trying to write a novel. She becomes involved in an intense affair with Paul.
A character in the yellow notebook/the Shadow of a Third, she is modeled after Molly. She is Ella's closest friend.
A character in the yellow notebook/the Shadow of a Third, Michael is Ella's young son. His father is George.
A character in the yellow notebook/the Shadow of a Third, George is Ella's ex-husband and the father of her son Michael.
A character in the yellow notebook/the Shadow of a Third, Paul is Ella's lover. He works as a psychiatrist and is married to another woman.
The nickname Molly and Anna give to their psychoanalyst, a woman named Mrs. Marks.
The Golden Notebook Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Golden Notebook is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.