|“||One dictum I had learned on the battlefields of France in a far distant war: You cannot save the world, but you might save the man in front of you, if you work fast enough.||”|
— Claire, Dragonfly in Amber
Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser is a nurse, later a doctor, and a time-traveler who has lived both in the 20th century and the 18th century. While on a second honeymoon in Scotland with her husband, Frank Randall, Claire accidentally travels two hundred years into the past, where she meets and eventually marries Jamie Fraser. As the primary (and sole first-person) narrator of the Outlander series, Claire is compassionate but medically ruthless, with a quick tongue that tends to get her into trouble.
Claire Beauchamp was born to Julia and Henry Beauchamp on October 20, 1918. She was baptized as a Catholic. Her parents died in a car accident when she was only five, and Claire was adopted by her uncle, Quentin Lambert Beauchamp, an archaeologist and historian whose work took him all over the world. He attempted to enroll her at an English boarding school, but she stubbornly refused to attend.
- "Faced with the necessity of prying my chubby fingers off the car's door handle and dragging me by the
heels up the steps of the school, Uncle Lamb, who hated personal conflict of any kind, had sighed in
exasperation, then finally shrugged and tossed his better judgment out the window along with my newly purchased round straw boater."
- — Claire, Outlander (Chapter One)
Claire consequently spent her childhood traveling the world with her uncle while he worked, becoming accustomed to fairly primitive conditions. Over the years, Claire recalls various places she had lived, including Persia and Egypt. She later claims that her first kiss was at the age of eight, in Egypt with the dragoman's nine-year-old son.
Claire met Frank Randall, a historian, when he came to consult her uncle about his work. They were married in 1937, and spent a brief two-day honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands. During the early years of their marriage, Claire continued her nomadic life with Frank, who was junior faculty at the time. They lived in a succession of hired flats until the outbreak of World War II in Europe, at which point both Claire and Frank committed themselves to the war effort – Frank as an officer with MI6 and Claire as a combat nurse. They each served for the duration of the war, and thus spent very little time together during those years.
Claire began her nurses training at Pembroke Hospital, and was later stationed at a field hospital in Amiens, France, where she worked for about two years. By 1943 she was a senior nurse, supervising junior nurses and orderlies. She was transferred to a field station at Caen before the end of the war. Claire recalls that the field hospital had been shelled three times while she was there, and her experience of treating the wounded men stays with her, even many years later.
Once the war was over, Claire and Frank reunited and decided to go on a second honeymoon in Scotland to reestablish their marriage in 1945. They stayed at Mrs. Baird's bed-and-breakfast in Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands situated near an ancient stone circle called Craigh na Dun.
Events of the NovelsEdit
By any standard, Claire is a woman ahead of her own time in 1945, and an outright anomaly in the 18th century. Her unusual upbringing, together with her six years as an army combat nurse, shaped Claire into a thoroughly independent woman undaunted by rough living conditions and physical danger. She is an eminently sensible person, though her considerable personal freedom from a young age shows through in her stubborn aversion to taking orders without questioning them. When it comes to practicing medicine, Claire takes charge and keeps a cool head in dire situations. In the 20th century, she stands out as a woman in medical school, and in the 18th she draws the ire of fellow surgeons, an exclusively male profession at the time.
Claire's defining physical features include her extremely curly hair and golden-colored eyes. She often remarks to herself (and other characters observe it of her as well) that her hair, when unfettered by pins or ribbons, is wildly large and curly, and frequently breaks free of its bonds when she is agitated or engaged in physical activity. At the beginning of the series, she observes that her hair is light brown, though later in life it takes on lighter streaks of gold and silver. By her early sixties, Claire has a broad streak of white hair at her temple.
Her eyes are variously described as amber, golden, golden-brown, the color of well-aged sherry or whisky, and compared to those of a hawk or leopard. Claire's Uncle Lamb told her that her mother's eyes had been the same color. She has a naturally pale complexion, often described as so white as to be translucent, though her skin tans to a soft light brown after long periods of time spent outdoors. She is of an average modern height at five feet, six inches, though she is taller than most women (and not a few men) of the 18th century.
- Claire is the French form of Clara, which itself is the feminine form of the Late Latin name Clarus which meant "clear, bright, famous".
- Elizabeth derives from Ελισαβετ (Elisabet), the Greek form of the Hebrew name אֱלִישֶׁבַע ('Elisheva') meaning "my God is an oath" or perhaps "my God is abundance".
- Beauchamp (English (or Norman origin) and French) is a habitational name from any of several places in France, for example in Manche and Somme, that are named with Old French beu, bel ‘fair’, ‘lovely’ + champ(s) ‘field’, ‘plain’. In English the surname is generally pronounced "Beecham".
- Fraser may be derived from Fredarius, Fresel or Freseau. Another suggestion is that the Frasers were a tribe in Roman Gaul, whose badge was a strawberry plant.
- Jamie has two main endearments by which he addresses Claire:
- Sassenach, which is a Gaelic term used to refer to English people, or outsiders. It is often used as a derogatory term, but Jamie calls Claire affectionately by it.
- Mo nighean donn, which means "my brown-haired lass" in the Gaelic.
- In Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie calls Claire mo duinne, however this is not quite the right Gaelic translation for "my brown-haired lass". When Diana Gabaldon wrote and published the first two novels in the early 1990s, she had very limited access to Gaelic language resources, but by the time she was writing Voyager, a native speaker had helpfully corrected her usage, and mo nighean donn should be considered the correct form of the endearment for the entire series.
- Her favorite exclamation is "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!", said over fifty times in the novels.
- As of the latest novel in the series, Claire is a six-times grandmother and published physician.
- Main article: Outlander Television Series
- ↑ Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
- ↑ In 1945, Claire narrates that she and Frank have been married for nearly eight years. In Drums of Autumn, Brianna looks at her parents' wedding photos and recalls that Claire was eighteen when she married Frank. Claire, born October 20, 1918, was 18 through most of 1937.
- ↑ In the American printing of Outlander, Claire goes through the stones in 1945. The date was changed in the UK printing (published as Cross Stitch) to 1946, which the editor thought was a more reasonable time for Claire and Frank to make their post-war trip to the Highlands. For more about this discrepancy, see The Outlandish Companion.
- ↑ Behind the Name: Claire – Accessed 19 April 2015
- ↑ Behind the Name: Clara – Accessed 19 April 2015
- ↑ Behind the Name: Elizabeth – Accessed 19 April 2015
- ↑ Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press, via Ancestry.com
- ↑ Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 142 - 143.