Free Study Guide for Lost Horizon by James Hilton

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The setting of the story is predominately in the countries of Afghanistan and Tibet with emphasis on the mysterious Valley of Blue Moon also known as Shangri-La. The Prologue takes place in Germany and the Epilogue takes place in Delhi, India. The year is 1930, but there are flashbacks to historical times as well.


Major Characters

Hugh Conway
Hugh is the main character who comes to Shangri-La and falls in love with the paradise he finds there. After he’s forced to leave, he ends up an amnesiac, but when he regains his memory, he strives with every desire in his heart to return to the mysterious valley where he was appointed High Lama.

Charles Mallinson
A vice-consul to Conway’s consul, he is one of the diplomats who is deliberately brought to Shangri-La. However, he is the only one of the four on the plane who chafes to return to the outer world. His fate is never known.

Henry D. Barnard
Another one of the high jacked passengers, Barnard is an American whose name is actually Chalmers Bryant, a financier who had stolen 100 million dollars and then had disappeared. He eventually decides to stay at Shangri-La and offer his services to prospect the gold there and make it available to improve the life in the lamasery and the valley.

Miss Roberta Brinklow
She is a missionary who also ends up on the hijacked flight. She is a determined woman who believes it is Providence that she ends up in the valley. She wants to stay there and preach Christianity to the people of the valley. This is acceptable to the lamasery which believes in being moderate and exploring all things in life.

A Chinese man who leads the travelers into Shangri-La, he is also an initiate of the lamasery and provides support to the travelers when they need comfort. He answers as many questions as possible that they may have, and he speaks highly of Conway to the High Lama.

He is the French friar who comes to the lamasery in 1719 and is still alive in 1930. He comes to know Conway and believes that he is the successor he has been waiting for. He tells Conway the story of Shangri-La and teaches him many lessons about the purpose of the lamasery, and why the four travelers had been brought there.

An upper-class Manchu, Lo-Tsen is seemingly a young girl who is very beautiful and attracts the attentions of all the men around her. She seems to show them little romantic interest and acts content to play piano and be a part of the mystery of Shangri-La. Later, however, she falls in love with Mallinson and loses her youth when she follows him out of the valley.

Minor Characters

A novelist who is a friend of the narrator, he is the first to hear Conway’s story and writes it down after listening to Conway for twenty-four straight hours. He later goes in search of the man when he once again disappears.

The Narrator
This character, a neurologist, remains nameless, but ties the plot together by reading the manuscript Rutherford had written to tell Conway’s story.


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Lost Horizon by James Hilton Free BookNotes

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