By tracing the afterlives of Mignon, an apparently minor character in Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Terence Cave explores a phenomenal success story in the history of literature and music, and more broadly of cultural history. Mignon steps out of the shadow of its protagonistWilhelm and fashions a destiny of her own: she becomes the object of an obsessive interest that reached its peak in the later nineteenth century but continues to reverberate into the twenty-first century. Mignon reappears - often as a character bearing a different name but sharing an unmistakable family resemblance with her - in a wide range of different literary works from Goethe himself via the German Romantic Novel, Mme de Stael, George Sand, Nerval and Baudelaire, Walter Scott and George Eliot toGerhart Hauptmann and Angela Carter. Her songs, set by dozens of composers from Reichardt and Beethoven to Wolf, reverberated through the drawing-rooms and concert-halls of nineteenth-century Europe. She is the heroine of the most popular French opera of the late nineteenth century, and she hasfeatured in a number of films. She is fascinating because she is poised on the threshold between childhood and adolescence, aphasia and expressive power, words and music; she is a wanderer who has lost her home, an exile who has been abducted and abused; and the many stories in which her life isreenacted provide a litmus test for key cultural values of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.