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Fever, 1793

Fever, 1793


by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever, 1793 Characters

Meet the Cast

Matilda (Mattie) Cook

Fourteen-year-old Matilda "Mattie" Cook is the teenage protagonist of a young adult novel. This means that over the course of Fever, 1793 she's going to be coming of age, searching for her identity...

Grandfather (Captain William Farnsworth Cook)

Matilda's Grandfather is a solider, Captain William Farnsworth Cook of the Pennsylvania Fifth Regiment. He served under George Washington. He has a pet parrot named King George that he won in a car...

Lucille Cook

If there were antagonist in this novel, Lucille, Matilda's mother would be it. OK, not really. She's Mattie's dear mother, after all, but she's also a force that must be reckoned with. Lucille is a...


Eliza is free a black woman who works at Matilda's family's coffeehouse. She's an excellent cook, and one of Matilda's best friends. Eliza lost her husband many years ago, though she is still close...

Nathaniel Benson

Nathaniel Benson is Mattie's primary love interest in the novel. He's a painter and an apprentice to the Peale family and he's apparently got great-looking hair. Interestingly enough, Mattie's inte...

Matilda's Father

Matilda's father died when she was young, having fallen off of a ladder two months after the coffeehouse was opened (2.7). He was 35 years old at the time.

Mrs. Bowles

Mrs. Bowles is a Quaker woman who rides in the cart back to Philadelphia with Matilda and her grandfather (16.7). She is in charge of the orphanage.

Mr. Brown

Mr. Brown runs The Federal Gazette. Matilda asks him to help her find her family, but he cannot because there's no space in the newspaper (Chapter 20).

Mr. Carris

Mr. Carris is one of Grandfather's opinionated friends. He's a lawyer who is part of the coffeehouse scene.

Dr. Deveze

Dr. Deveze is the French doctor in charge of fever treatment at Bush Hill. His methods oppose those of Dr. Benjamin Rush (Chapter 14).

Mrs. Flagg

Mrs. Bridget Flagg is one of the caretakers at Bush Hill, the mansion converted into a fever hospital where Matilda and her grandfather take refuge (Chapter 14). She has a slight flirtation with Ma...


Joseph is Eliza's brother and a cooper. (That means he makes barrels.) He is stricken with the fever, as is his wife. He recovers, but she does not. Joseph is father to Robert and William, his twin...

Dr. Kerr

Dr. Kerr is the second doctor to treat Matilda's mother. He diagnoses her with yellow fever. He is of Dr. Rush's school, and believes in taking blood from his patients (10.18).

The Ludington Family

The Ludingtons are the family in the country that Matilda's mother threatens to send her to. Matilda's mother recovers there herself. Matilda meets Mrs. Ludington in the novel's final chapters when...


Nell is the orphan girl Matilda finds in the streets of Philadelphia and takes in as her own (Chapter 21). She becomes a figure of sympathy that emphasizes the importance of caring for others, even...

The Ogilvie Family

Pernilla, Jeannine, and Colette are the snobby women of the Ogilvie family. Pernilla is the mother, and Jeannine and Colette are the daughters (Chapter 7). Edward is one of the sons, whom Matilda's...

The Peale Family

The Peales are the family with whom Nathaniel is apprenticed. As the novel's Appendix tells us, the Peale family actually existed and were known as the "First Family of American Art." Charles Wilso...


Polly is a serving girl who worked at the Cook's coffeehouse. She is the first casualty of the fever in Matilda's world. Her beau is named Matthew.

Robert and William

The twins Robert and William are Eliza's nephews and Joseph's sons (Chapter 22). They lose their mother and contract yellow fever. They then recover with the help of Matilda and Eliza.

Mr. Rowley

Mr. Rowley is the first medical professional (though he's not actually a doctor) that treats Matilda's mother. He disputes Dr. Benjamin Rush's assertion that yellow fever is spreading (9.27-9.28)....

Mother Smith

Mother Smith is an elderly black woman who cares for Joseph, Robert, and William, while Eliza works for the Free African Society. She is tenacious, yet caring, and often the voice of reason.