In a literary poll conducted in advance of World Book Day on March 3, female heroes and villains outranked their male counterparts as readers’ favorite characters. National Book Tokens, a company selling gift cards that can be used in bookshops around the U.K., asked 7,000 book fans to name their “favorite heroes/heroines” and “the most evil villains.” Though the top hero and villain were both male — Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort — a majority of characters named by participants were female. Six of the ten heroes were women, including Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen, and Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. Seven out of the top ten villains were female, among them Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange, both from Harry Potter, and Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. “These polls show that classic characters and stories stay with us, no matter how long ago we read them,” said Kirsten Grant, director of World Book Day. “They also show that readers are refreshingly open to reading about characters of the opposite sex — though is it worrying so many of the greatest fictional villains are female?”
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