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Harriet Vane
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Harriet Vane

Harriet Deborah Vane, Lady Peter Wimsey, is a fictional character in the writings of Dorothy L. Sayers. Daughter of a country doctor and graduate of the fictional Shrewsbury College, Oxford, Vane is a writer of detective stories who is wrongly accused of the murder of her former lover Philip Boyes. While she is on trial (in Strong Poison), Lord Peter Wimsey comes to her rescue by proving who really poisoned Boyes. After a courtship that runs through Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night, they marry in Busman's Honeymoon and move into an old country house she had admired as a child, Talboys. Thrones, Dominations takes place shortly after they return from their honeymoon. The first of their children is born in the story "The Haunted Policeman," and by the time of the story "Talboys" they have three sons: Bredon Delgardie Peter Wimsey (born in October 1936), Roger Wimsey (born 1938), and Paul Wimsey (born 1940).


Dorothy L. Sayers

John Cournos
Sayers consciously modeled Vane on herself, although perhaps not as closely as her fans (and even friends) sometimes thought. Vane's relationship with Boyes -- in which he said he did not believe in marriage, so she lived with him "in sin," and then he decided he wanted to marry her after all, at which time she broke off with him because of his hypocrisy -- was based on Sayers's love affair (1921-1922) with the author John Cournos (1881-1956), a Russian Jew whose family emigrated to the U.S. when he was ten years old.