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 novels, 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 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 South America, 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 by 1943 she was a senior nurse, supervising junior nurses and orderlies. She was later stationed at Caen and a field hospital in Amiens, France. 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. She returned to Pembroke Hospital at the end of the war.
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 Novels
After the end of the second World War, Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank, when she encounters a circle of standing stones at a place called Craigh na Dun. Hearing a strange buzzing sound, Claire approaches the large cleft stone and, upon touching it, finds herself lost in a cacophony of noise and indescribable terror.
When she awakens, she soon finds herself in the middle of a skirmish between what appear to be English dragoons and Scottish cattle raiders in the 18th century. The Scotsmen rescue her from an attack by an English captain, suspicious of her strange dress and accent, take her with them to the seat of the clan MacKenzie, Castle Leoch. She shares a horse with Jamie, a young Scottish warrior whose multiple injuries require Claire's medical expertise. She also learns of Jamie's past history with Captain Jack Randall, the English dragoon who had assaulted her before she absconded with the Scotsmen.
The MacKenzies keep Claire captive for several months, during which time she plots her escape but fails to execute her plans successfully. All the while, her friendship with Jamie grows, and when she again finds herself on the verge of being taken prisoner by Captain Randall, she is offered no other choice than to marry Jamie, thereby becoming a Scot and virtually untouchable by the English.
Claire continues to try to escape back to her old life and first husband, but after yet another failed attempt results in a dangerous rescue headed up by Jamie, followed by a turning point in their relationship, she finds herself putting less and less effort into trying to return to Craigh na Dun. One day, while Jamie is away from the castle, Claire is herself caught up in a witch trial against the fiscal's wife, Geillis Duncan. Jamie intervenes and takes her away from Leoch, and she confesses the truth about coming from the future. Jamie says he believes her, and takes Claire back to Craigh na Dun.
After contemplating her choices for some time, Claire decides to stay with Jamie. They go to Jamie's childhood home, Lallybroch, where Claire meets his sister, Jenny and best-friend-turned-brother-in-law, Ian. Claire has barely begun to imagine building a life with Jamie there, when he is taken by the Black Watch and turned over to the English. With help from Jenny and Jamie's godfather Murtagh, and later some of her erstwhile acquaintances from Castle Leoch, Claire manages to rescue Jamie from Wentworth Prison and the sadistic Captain Randall, but not before he has suffered untold horrors, both physically and psychologically.
She and Murtagh take Jamie to France to recover, and Claire's desperation to save Jamie's body and soul drives to her to try an unorthodox therapy – one more closely resembling exorcism than her usual poultice or tonic. Successfully bringing Jamie back from death's door, the couple again begins to contemplate their future together.
Dragonfly in Amber
In 1968, Claire travels to Scotland with her grown daughter, Brianna, seeking advice from the historian Roger Wakefield, the adopted son of an old friend. Claire soon finds herself revealing the truth about Brianna's parentage, and her incredible story of living in the 18th century.
Having decided to try to change the course of history by interfering in Charles Stuart's machinations France, Claire and Jamie live and work in Paris – Jamie as a representative of his cousin Jared Fraser's wine business (and secret stealer of the royal Stuarts' mail), and Claire as a healer at L'Hôpital des Anges. Jamie is very reluctant to allow Claire to attend patients at the hospital, considering her pregnancy, but she eventually persuades him to come around. While in Paris, Claire befriends Mother Hildegarde, the nun who runs the hospital; Master Raymond, a strange and knowledgeable apothecary; Louise de La Tour, a French noblewoman; and Mary Hawkins, niece of a wine merchant and amoureuse of Alexander Randall.
When Jamie finds out that Jack Randall survived their escape from Wentworth Prison, he immediately starts to plan how he can kill the man once and for all, but Claire begs him to wait until Randall has fathered a child by Mary Hawkins; Claire knows that her husband Frank was descended from Mary and Jack Randall, and does not want to jeopardize his future existence. Jamie agrees for a time, but after witnessing an incident between Randall and a boy Fergus, whom Jamie had employed to steal letters from Charles Stuart, he can no longer hold back his rage and challenges Randall to a duel. Claire tries to stop them, but she experiences a life-threatening miscarriage and has to be taken back to the hospital.
Though she and Jamie both survive their trials, Jamie ends up imprisoned in the Bastille, and Claire finds herself immersed in a fog of grief. When she learns of Jamie's imprisonment, she realizes she must get him released so he can complete the plan put in train with Murtagh to foil Charles Stuart's attempts to raise funding for his rebellion. She seeks an audience with King Louis, and subjects herself to the "king's pleasure". Jamie is freed, and she returns to Fontainebleau without seeing him. Eventually, Jamie finds Claire and they reconcile. With a pardon for Jamie in Britain, and orders from the French that Jamie must leave the country, they return to Lallybroch.
They live in relative peace for a little over a year before the Jamie is drawn against his will into the rebellion. Having failed to prevent it, Claire offers any knowledge she can muster in order to help the Jacobites win against the Crown's forces. Despite an early success at Prestonpans, it becomes clear to Claire and Jamie that they cannot change the tide of the war, and instead they do their best to secure the safety of the Lallybroch men and Jamie's family, before sending Claire back through the stones, and before Jamie faces certain death at the looming Battle of Culloden.
Upon concluding her story, Claire is distressed by Brianna's enraged refusal to believe her. With help from Roger, Claire tracks down Gillian Edgars, whom she has identified as her old friend Geillis, before the latter traveled back in time. Claire leads Roger and Brianna to Craigh na Dun, potentially to stop Gillian from going back, but they fail. Still, the event serves its purpose in convincing Brianna that her mother is telling the truth, and erasing any lingering doubts Roger may have had – they could both hear the stones, too.
As they recover from this harrowing experience, Roger brings Claire a life-changing bit of evidence – one that suggests that Jamie didn't die at the Battle of Culloden, as she had believed for the past twenty years.
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Written in My Own Heart's Blood
|“||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.||”|
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. 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, smoky topaz, 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 has 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.
Frank first met Claire Beauchamp when he came to consult her uncle, Quentin Beauchamp, about a point of French philosophy as it related to Egyptian religious practice. After a period of time, they were married, and spent a brief two-day honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands, followed by a year together before the outbreak of World War II.
Claire and Frank were separated for most of the war. Once the war was over, Claire and Frank reunited in 1945 (1946 in Cross Stitch) and decided to have a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands to reestablish their marriage. They stayed in a town called Inverness in the north of Scotland, which was situated near an ancient stone circle. Claire went missing at that stone circle.
They were reunited when she returned again in 1948. However, Claire had returned pregnant with another man's child and admitted to having married and fallen in love with her second husband. Frank said he did not believe Claire's story, choosing instead to believe that she was delusional and losing her grip on reality.
Feeling some sense of responsibility for the welfare of Claire and her child, Frank insisted on staying by Claire as her husband. He asked that while he lived, Claire would never tell Brianna the truth of her paternity. Their relationship over twenty years remained rocky, and Claire suspected that Frank was involved in several affairs throughout the marriage, though he was discreet. After an intense argument that started with Frank's announcement that he was leaving Claire and taking Brianna with him, Frank stormed out and drove away in the middle of the night. While Claire was at the hospital checking on a patient, she received word that Frank had been in a fatal car accident.
Claire met Jamie shortly after she accidentally traveled through time from 1946 to 1743. She reset his dislocated shoulder and bandaged wounds that he sustained during a skirmish with English soldiers over the course of one night, during which they rode the same horse on the way to Castle Leoch. While staying at the castle, Claire gradually learned more about Jamie's background and circumstances, namely that he had a price on his head for a crime he didn't commit and couldn't return to his family's home.
Just a few months after meeting, several weeks of which were spent on the road collecting rents with the MacKenzies, Claire was left with no better option for her survival than to marry a Scot in order to evade the grasp of Captain Randall. She married Jamie unwillingly, though over the course of their wedding night it became apparent that there was certainly more to the attraction that had been building between them than simple lust or loneliness. She took one opportunity to try to escape and return to her own time, but was foiled when she was picked up by English redcoats and brought to Captain Randall. Jamie rescued her, and they returned to Castle Leoch.
They spent several months as a married couple in the castle until Claire was imprisoned in the local village as a suspected witch. Jamie rescued her yet again, and she told him the truth about where, and when, she came from. He believed her, much to her surprise, though he admitted he didn't understand it yet. He then took her back to the stone circle at Craigh na Dun, so that she could return to her husband, Frank. Though she spent the day contemplating her decision, she ultimately chose to stay with Jamie.
They lived a few short, happy weeks at Lallybroch with Jamie's sister Jenny and her husband Ian, before Jamie was captured by redcoats in the district. Claire and Jenny, then later Claire and Murtagh tracked Jamie and made attempts to attract his attention to their location. After weeks of travel, they learned that Jamie had been captured and imprisoned at Wentworth. Claire convinced some MacKenzie men to help her rescue Jamie, and their mission was ultimately successful, though not before Jamie had suffered torture and abuse at the hands of Jack Randall. They escaped to France and stayed at the Abbey of Ste. Anne de Beaupré where Jamie's uncle was abbot. Jamie languished in despair and worsening illness until Claire employed unconventional methods to save Jamie's soul from torment, and help him begin to heal.
Learning that Claire was pregnant, and unable to return to Scotland, they decided to stay in France and try to prevent Charles Stuart from gaining traction among the Jacobites that would fund his imminent, doomed rebellion. They attended King Louis XV's court and ingratiated themselves into powerful circles, and the daily grind put a strain on their young marriage. When Captain Randall appeared in Paris, Jamie became determined to kill his abuser, but Claire begged Jamie to spare him for another year, in order to ensure her first husband, a descendant of Randall's, would still be born. He agreed at first, but after witnessing Randall in the act of molesting Jamie's young protégé, Fergus, Jamie challenged Randall to a duel with the intent to kill. Claire pursued them but arrived too late, able only to witness which of her husbands—Jamie or Frank—might die. During the fight, Claire suffered a miscarriage and later convalesced at L'Hôpital des Anges and Fontainebleau. She sought the King's favor to free Jamie from the Bastille, and upon reuniting they overcame their grief enough to reconcile and take solace in one another, and returned to Scotland with a pardon for Jamie.
They lived for a year at Lallybroch in relative peace, until Jamie was forced to join the Stuart cause and they left to join the army. Knowing the outcome—thanks to Claire's unique perspective—made witnessing the ups and downs of the campaign even more agonizing, but the strength of their bond sustained them through the war. Ultimately, however, Jamie made the anguished decision to send Claire back through the stones just before the slaughter at Culloden was due to occur, in order to save both Claire and their unborn child.
For twenty years they lived apart, neither completely their whole selves any longer, though they made significant efforts to support their families. It was not until 1968 that Claire returned to Scotland with their grown daughter, Brianna, and learned that Jamie did not die at the Battle of Culloden like he meant to. With the help of Brianna and a young historian named Roger Wakefield, they found Jamie's whereabouts in 1766, and Claire decided to go through the stones once more to find Jamie.
Lord John Grey
- 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.
Actress Elizabeth Bowie portrayed Young Claire in the series premiere, Sassenach.