Happy 300th Birthday, Jamie Fraser!
Please join OUTLANDER fans worldwide in wishing a very happy 300th birthday (believe it or not!!) to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser! He was born on May 1, 1721.
According to Merriam-Webster, the word for a 300th anniversary is tercentenary.
Whatever you want to call it, this is quite a milestone!
If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets today (Saturday, May 1) with #Happy300JAMMF, in celebration of Jamie's birthday.
In honor of Jamie's 300th birthday, here's a selection of some of my favorite quotes by and about him from the OUTLANDER books. I tried to pick quotes that illustrate as many different aspects of Jamie's character as possible. I hope you enjoy them!
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, you will find SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.
1) This is the point where, on my first reading of OUTLANDER in 2006, I fell in love with Jamie Fraser.
A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight--any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored, or crabbed in appearance. A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored young Highlander at close range is breath-taking.
The thick red-gold hair had been brushed to a smooth gleam that swept the collar of a fine lawn shirt with tucked front, belled sleeves, and lace-trimmed wrist frills that matched the cascade of the starched jabot at the throat, decorated with a ruby stickpin.
His tartan was a brilliant crimson and black that blazed among the more sedate MacKenzies in their green and white. The flaming wool, fastened by a circular silver brooch, fell from his right shoulder in a graceful drape, caught by a silver-studded sword belt before continuing its sweep past neat calves clothed in woolen hose and stopping just short of the silver-buckled black leather boots. Sword, dirk, and badger-skin sporran completed the ensemble.
Well over six feet tall, broad in proportion, and striking of feature, he was a far cry from the grubby horse-handler I was accustomed to--and he knew it. Making a leg in courtly fashion, he swept me a bow of impeccable grace, murmuring “Your servant, Ma’am,” eyes glinting with mischief.
(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "A Marriage Takes Place". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
2) Jamie and Claire's farewell is so heartbreaking! But I think the idea of a love that outlasts even death itself is one of the most powerful themes of the entire series.
"I will find you,” he whispered in my ear. “I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you--then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest.”
His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me.
“Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well."
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Jamie is a born leader, as we saw during his years in Ardsmuir Prison.
He had come from the bosom of family and tenants, from a strength that had sustained him for seven years, to find a lack of hope and a loneliness that would kill a man faster than the damp and the filth and the quaking ague of the prison.
And so, quite simply, he had taken the ragtag and remnants, the castoff survivors of the field of Culloden, and made them his own, that they and he might survive the stones of Ardsmuir as well. Reasoning, charming, and cajoling where he could, fighting where he must, he had forced them to band together, to face their captors as one, to put aside ancient clan rivalries and allegiances, and take him as their chieftain.
“They were mine,” he said softly. “And the having of them kept me alive."
(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33, "Buried Treasure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
DRUMS OF AUTUMN
4) Other people may see Jamie as a hero, or "King of Men", but Jamie himself would disagree. He's all too aware of his own faults.
“Do ye really think me a good man?” he said at last. There was a queer note in his voice, that I couldn’t quite decipher.
“Yes,” I said, with no hesitation. Then added, half jokingly, “Don’t you?”
After a long pause, he said, quite seriously, “No, I shouldna think so.”
I looked at him, speechless, no doubt with my mouth hanging open.
“I am a violent man, and I ken it well,” he said quietly. He spread his hands out on his knees; big hands, which could wield sword and dagger with ease, or choke the life from a man. “So do you--or ye should."
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) From his very first sight of it, Fraser's Ridge seemed to fill a deep need in Jamie's soul.
“How shall I tell ye what it is, to feel the need of a place?” he said softly. “The need of snow beneath my shoon. The breath of the mountains, breathing their own breath in my nostrils as God gave breath to Adam. The scrape of rock under my hand, climbing, and the sight of the lichens on it, enduring in the sun and the wind.”
His breath was gone and he breathed again, taking mine. His hands were linked behind my head, holding me, face-to-face.
“If I am to live as a man, I must have a mountain,” he said simply.
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "Hearth Blessing". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
THE FIERY CROSS
6) We don't often see Jamie thinking about those twenty endless years of separation, but I like this small glimpse of how he got through it.
“How many nights in twenty years, a nighean? How many hours? For I spent that long in wondering whether my wife still lived, and how she fared. She and my child.”
His hand ran smoothly over my head, gently stroking my hair. Brianna said nothing in reply, but made a small, inarticulate sound in her throat.
“That is what God is for. Worry doesna help--prayer does. Sometimes,” he added honestly.
“Yes,” she said, sounding uncertain. “But if--”
“And if she had not come back to me”--he interrupted firmly--“if you had not come--if I had never known--or if I had known for sure that both of you were dead …” He turned his head to look at her, and I felt the shift of his body as he lifted his hand from my hair and reached out his other hand to touch her. “Then I would still have lived, a nighean, and done what must be done. So will you.”
(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 81, "Bear-Killer". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES
7) We tend to think of the abduction/rape mostly in terms of what happened to Claire, but Jamie was very deeply shaken by what happened, too. I love the way he pushes his own feelings aside in the face of Claire's need, waiting until she is asleep before he will let himself cry.
He held her, both arms wrapped around her as though to save her from drowning, but felt her sink away all the same. He wished to call out to her not to go, not to leave him alone. She vanished into the depths of sleep, and he yearned after her, wishing her healed, fearing her flight, and bent his head, burying his face in her hair and her scent.
Then he cried, soundless, muscles strained to aching that he might not shake with it, that she might not wake to know it. He wept to emptiness and ragged breath, the pillow wet beneath his face. Then lay exhausted beyond the thought of tiredness, too far from sleep even to recall what it was like. His only comfort was the small, so fragile weight that lay warm upon his heart, breathing.
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) This bit always makes me laugh, particularly for Ian's reaction. Jamie's heroic instincts are still as strong as ever, but his body isn't always up to it anymore.
The carriage rattled through without stopping, turned into the street, and came past him.
He had never seen Josiah Martin, but thought the plump, self-important-looking gentleman must surely be the--His eye caught the merest glimpse of the woman, and his heart clenched like a fist. Without an instant’s thought, he was pelting after the carriage, as hard as he could run.
In his prime, he could not have outrun a team of horses. Even so, he came within a few feet of the carriage, would have called, but had no breath, no sight, and then his foot struck a misplaced cobble and he fell headlong.
He lay stunned and breathless, vision dark and his lungs afire, hearing only the receding clatter of hooves and carriage wheels, until a strong hand seized his arm and jerked.
“We’ll avoid notice, he says,” Ian muttered, bending to get his shoulder under Jamie’s arm. “Your hat’s flown off, did ye notice that? Nay, of course not, nor the whole street staring, ye crack-brained gomerel. God, ye weigh as much as a three-year bullock!”
“Ian,” he said, and paused to gulp for breath.
“Ye sound like your mother. Stop.”
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 94, "Absquatulation". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
AN ECHO IN THE BONE
9) Jamie has just offered William his hat, in exchange for the one he shot off the young man's head by accident in the wheat field. It's the first time he has spoken to his son in many years.
"Are you all right? What on earth is the matter?" I sat beside him and put a hand on his back, beginning to be worried.
"I dinna ken whether to laugh or to weep, Sassenach," he said. He took his hand away from his face, and I saw that, in fact, he appeared to be doing both. His lashes were wet, but the corners of his mouth were twitching.
"I've lost a kinsman and found one, all in the same moment--and a moment later realize that for the second time in his life, I've come within an inch of shooting my son." He looked at me and shook his head, quite helpless between laughter and dismay.
"I shouldna have done it, I ken that. It's only--I thought all at once, What if I dinna miss, a third time? And--and I thought I must just ... speak to him. As a man. In case it should be the only time, aye?"
(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 66, "Deathbed". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD
10) Jamie's relationship with Lord John Grey is complex and multilayered. I hope some day they can resume their friendship.
"When Geneva died and it was my fault, it was a knife in my heart--and then William ..." His mouth softened. "The bairn cut me wide open, Sassenach. He spilled my guts out into my hands."
I put my hand on his, and he turned it, his fingers curling over mine.
"And that bloody English sodomite bandaged me," he said, so low I could scarcely hear him above the sound of the river. "With his friendship."
He drew breath again and let it out explosively. "No, I didna kill him. I dinna ken if I'm glad of it or not--but I didn't."
(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Welcome Coolness in the Heat, Comfort in the Midst of Woe". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Birthday, Jamie! MANY thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an amazing character, and to Sam Heughan for bringing him to life on TV!
UPDATE 5/1/2021 1:29 pm: Check out this little "greatest hits" video, featuring some of Jamie's best moments from the TV show.
And finally, please note, it's Beltane today, which means the portals are open. Be careful if you go near any standing stones, and be sure to carry a wee gemstone with you, just in case!