Iconic Literary Friendships

Happy International Day of Friendship!

Eight arms reaching in to pile hands on top of one another.  Most wear bright sweaters.Friendship has been celebrated in many different ways on many different days.  Many countries have their own Friendship Days, and there are less formal celebrations as well (such as Palentine's Day, an alternative to Valentine's Day).  The International Day of Friendship (June 30th) was made official by the U.N. in 2011, making this the 10th anniversary of the first International Day of Friendship!

This is a day for calling old friends, for getting together, for telling (and showing) your people how much you care for them.  It's a day for buds, bros, pals, gals, partners, mates, and more!  And since we're book people, we thought we'd add to the celebrations by compiling a list of some of the most iconic literary buds, bros, and more!

These are by no means all of the great friendships featured in books, but these are the relationships that taught us what it means to be friends.  Did we include your favorite literary friends?


 

Book cover: Anne of Green Gables.  Colorful art of a red-hared girl in a red dress standing under a canopy of trees and flowers, with the title drawn in a loopy, elegant font.

Anne Shirley & Diana Barry (Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery)

All her life, Anne has longed for a bosom friend (“an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul”), and she finally finds one at Avonlea, in her friendship with Diana Barry.

 

Book cover: Curious George. In front of a yellow background, two policemen dressed in blue hold the arms of a small monkey.Curious George & the Man in the Yellow Hat (Curious George series by H. A. Rey)

We love seeing all the misadventures of our mischevious monkey Curious George, but where would he be without his friend and keeper The Man in the Yellow Hat?

 

Book cover: A boxed set of Sherlock Holmes. On the cover is the silhouette of a face smoking a hat, as well as gold decoration, and the visible spines of the books are brightly colored.Sherlock Holmes & John Watson (The Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

With Holmes's eccentric talent for unraveling mysteries and Watson's stoic groundedness, these two make up one of the most iconic duos of literature.

 

Book cover: The Mysterious Benedict Society. In front of a light yellow background is an illustration of a tall stone house, with a winding staircase and a red roof.  Several figures stand in the windows, and a girl climbs up the side of the house by a rope.

Reynie, Kate, Sticky, & Constance (The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart)

At the beginning of the series, these four children are strangers, but through their mission together to stop the impending Emergency, they form incredible friendships and learn to appreciate one another's quirks.

 

Book cover: Travels with Charley in Search of America.  Above a black banner with the author and title is an illustration of a shiny black car

John Steinbeck & Charley the Poodle (Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck)

Steinbeck's epic cross-country road trip wouldn't have been the same without his standard poodle, Charley, at his side.

 

Book cover: Frog and Toad Are Friends, fiftieth anniversary edition. An illustration of a green frog and a brown toad in jackets and pants, sitting the grass and reading. Around them flowers and grass spring up, spreading into the dark green border around the cover.

Frog & Toad (Frog and Toad Are Friends and other books by Arnold Lobel)

The title says it all here: Frog and Toad are friends.  Throughout the multiple books following their friendship, these two go on all sorts of adventures, such as flying kites, riding bicycles, and more.

 

Book cover: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Cover is blank with a single illustration: a black skull with a red jester hat.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern (Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard)

These two minor characters in Hamlet get to tell their own story in Tom Stoppard's more recent play, where we watch these friends grapple with a plot that is out of their control.

 

Book cover: Little Women. In front of a light blue background are sketches of silhouettes, long white gloves, ink, books, shoes, and more.

Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)

The March sisters are sisters, allies, rivals, and immensely close friends.  We love watching these girls evolve into women and their relationships change over time. 

 

Book cover: The Golden Compass illustrated. Cover art features a young girl riding a polar bear in front of northern lights.

Lyra & Pantalaimon (His Dark Materials trilogy byPhilip Pullman)

Do these two count as friends?  Lyra's daemon Pantalaimon is a manifestation of her soul, so technically they might be the same being—but these two are just too sweet (and good at collaborating) not to include!

 

Book cover: The Wizard of Oz.  Cover art features a bright illustration of a young girl in a blue checkered dress and pink hat, a man made of tin holding an axe, a scarecrow, and a large lion, walking down a bright yellow road.

Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)

Do you know that phrase "Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way"?  These four are the archetype.

 

Book cover: The Thank You Book (an Elephant and Piggie book).  In the brightly colored, comic-style illustration, a bespectacled elephant and small pink pink embrace.

Elephant & Piggie (The Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Williams)

Elephant and Piggie are pals to the end!  With lots of different stories to choose from, young readers can join in the fun.

 

Book cover: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated edition. Cover art features a red train amid a cloud of smoke. People bustle on the platform and an owl swoops above.

Harry, Ron, & Hermione (The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling)

These three have been dubbed "the golden trio", and for good reason.  Over their years at school, these three grow into an inseperable unit—and a well-oiled trouble-stopping (and trouble-making) machine.

 

Book cover: The Clifford Collection.  A drawing of a small yellow-haired girl in a pink sweater, sitting on the foot of a big red dog, who sniffs at her hand.

Clifford & Mary Elizabeth (The Clifford series by Norman Bridwell)

A dog is always an excellent best friend, and in the case of Emily Elizabeth and Clifford, their love for one another turned Clifford the tiny red puppy into the incredible giant dog we know and love.

 

Book cover: Winnie the Pooh. Illustration shows a small yellow bear holding a red case, surrounded by a rabbit, kangaroo, white owl, and small pink piglet.

Piglet & Pooh (Winnie the Pooh and other books by A. A. Milne)

Honey-loving Pooh and small, nervous Piglet are the beating heart of Hundred Acre Wood, and all the magic we've experienced there.

 

Photo: boxed set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books. The case is leather, with golden lettering reading J. R. R. Tolkien, and reveals four books: brown, yellow, and red.

Frodo & Sam (Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien)

No collection of literary best friends would be complete without Frodo and Sam.  While there are many wonderful friendships presented throughout Tolkien's stories (Merry & Pippin, Bilbo & Thorin, Legolas & Gimli...), this one is just too iconic not to make the list.  These are friends to the end, who go through incredible suffering and emerge together.