Charles de Lint's Newford Wiki
Jilly Coppercorn
Vital statistics
Gender Female
Race Human
Occupation Artist
Birthplace Tyson, Hillbilly Holler
Date of Birth ca. 1956 [1]
Location Newford
Books appeared in The Onion Girl, Dreams Underfoot, Promises to Keep, Widdershins

Jilly Coppercorn — Character in Newford series, by Charles de Lint

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Jilly Coppercorn is one of the linchpins of Newford's stories, having friends in many circles, among humans, Seelie Courts (Faeries), and "cousins". She is also one of the few de Lint characters to appear in most Newford novels.


Jilly is part of the Newford art scene.

Personality and Character []

✥ Jilly is always in a good mood; called 'relentlessly cheerful' finds the best in everything and everyone, Jilly has a close connection to everything magical and "Otherworldly". 

✥ Jilly knew people from all walks of life—socialites and bag ladies. Street kids, university profs. Nobody was too poor or too rich for her to talk with, no matter how or where they happened to meet. ~ "Freewheeling"

✥ Jilly always showed up to her friends reading, book signing, gallery opening, gig—she could be counted on to celebrate her friends successes. The same was true with life's hard knocks—she was always there when a friend was needed.

✥ Jilly preferred to know what was going on and try to do something about it,rather than pretend it wasn’t happening and hoping that, by ignoring what was wrong, it would just go away. Truth was, Jilly had long ago learned, trouble never went away. It just got worse—unless you fixed it. ~ "Winter was Hard"

Physical Description[]

Slender with unruly curly brown hair, enjoys wearing clothing that's too big for her, often has paint on her. Friends called her the "Rackham pixie".

Slender, in her twenties, riot of brown curls, electric blue eyes, Jilly seldom wore make-up and she usually be counted on having a smudge of charcoal somewhere on her face and dried oil paintunder her nails. She tended to wear baggy clothes. ~ "Freewheeling"

Residence Location[]

Yoors Street loft in the Foxville part of Newford (see more below in Places)

Art / Talent[]

Art Piece for Five Coyote's Group Show—Theme: child abuse[]

✥ I Don’t Know How to Laugh Anymore, by Jilly Coppercorn. Oils and mixed media. Yoors Street Studio, Newford, 1991.

A life-sized female subject leans against an inner city wall in the classic pose of a prostitutewaiting for a customer. She wears high heels, a micro-miniskirt, tube-top and short jacket, with a purse slung over one shoulder, hanging against her hip from a narrow strap. Her hands are thrust into the pockets of her jacket. Her features are tired, the lost look of a junkie in her eyesundermining her attempt to appear sultry. Near her feet, a condom is attached to the painting, stiffened with gesso. The subject is thirteen years old. ~ "In the House of My Enemy" — Dreams Underfoot

Other Details[]

  • Annie named her baby after her and Sophie— Jillian Sophia Mackle.
  • Jilly is touched by the spiritworld in a way that she has a “shine” about her that conveys her strong and almost magical spirit.
  • She can see Faeries, Bodachs, Skookin, and others
  • Jilly doesn't like change
  • Likes fingerless gloves
  • Jilly took all kinds of odd thngs seriously
  • Strange occurrences tended to gather around—mystery clung to her like burrs on an old sweater
  • When younger, collected folktales and odd stories, magical rumors and mythologies
  • Believes that Prof Dapple is really a wizard
  • Made "Cowboy coffee": foul brew made from used coffie grounds
  • Likes Prof Bramley's theory of consensual reality—things exist because we agree that they exist

How Jilly got her Name[]

When Lou Fucceri found her as a street kid—about to collapse in a doorway of a pawn shop up on Perry Street—he asked her for hire name. She looked in to store windows and pulled a name from an add sign in each window—a copper tone add and a Jolly Green Giant himself selling vegetables: corn. Coppercorn.

Friends who showed up at the hospital[]

Onion Girl: Sophie, Wendy St. Clair, Prof Dapple, Christy, Saskia (Christy's girlfriend), Holly Rue, Sue Ashworth, Izzy, Meran,Cerin, Desmond, Cassie, Mona Morgan, Lou Fucceri, Angel.

History and Background[]

Early Life[]

Jilly Coppercorn was born Jillian May Carter in a section of Tyson called Hillbilly Holler. She has at least one younger sister, Raylene, and an older brother Del. From a very young age, Del raped and tortured Jilly.

The only comfort to Jilly during these earliest years was a tree in the fields behind her mobile home to which she read fairy tales. This tree is somehow connected to Nokomis, aka White Deer Woman, who hears Jilly, and blesses her. This blessing makes many comment (particularly the non-human denizens of Newford) about a "glow" that radiates from her.

Life on the Streets[]

When Jilly couldn't take Del's abuse anymore, she ran away from home and, after a series of foster homes, took up a life of drugs and prostitution. Eventually, she ended up in Newford.  When she found herself without a home or cash or drugs and hadn't eaten for several days, she was rescued by Lou Fucceri (a police officer) and Angela Marceau, who ran a home for runaways.

Before The Onion Girl[]

Jilly changed her name to Jilly Coppercorn in an attempt to disassociate from her past. She went to school and got a degree in Fine Art, and became very active in helping others who had similar experiences (Children of the Secret). Due to her blessing from Nokomis, she gathered a wide coterie of friends, among them Joe Crazy Dog, Whiskey Jack, Geordie Riddell, his brother Christy Riddell, their sister Christiana Tree, Sophie Etoile, Professor Bramley Dapple, and the crow girls.

Jilly and the World of Magic[]

One day she discovered that there was an alternate reality, and her view of the world was forever changed—as told in "The Stone Drum". At first it felt like a curse seeing the truth, but the wonder she felt was not a curse. It was only in her art that she had freedom to express what she saw "from the corner of her eye". She painted an endless stream of faerie folk, alleys, parks, waterfront wharves, or in Lower Crowsea

Books & Stories Appears In[]

Character and Places Connections[]

Name What Connection About
Wendy St. James poet, Newford art scene best friend consider each other soul sisters; look alike
Geordie Riddell fiddler, human, Newford art scene close friend, possible love interest Brother: Christy Riddell;
Sophie Etoile artist, part faerie, Newford art scene close friend; Fellow Five Coyote member lives in a dream world at night; Five Coyotes Singing Studio
Meg Mullally photographer, Newford art scene Fellow Five Coyote member Part of an artist's group: "Five Coyotes Singing Studio"
Claudia Feder human fellow Five Coyote member Part of an artist's group: "Five Coyotes Singing Studio"
Isabelle Copely, "Izzy" painter; human fellow group member Part of an artist's group: "Five Coyotes Singing Studio"
Annie Mackle young pregnant girl staying with Jilly; she likes Sophie too Jilly enters a crude drawing of hers in the "Abuse" show posthumously
Lou Fucceri kind-hearted cop rescued Jilly from the street; brought her to a social worker: “Angel of Grasso Street”
Angel, aka Angela Marceau social worker helps Jilly called “Angel of Grasso Street”; aids street kids
Bramley Dapple art history professor; Wizard friend, sponsor Had been Jilly's sponser for Angel's sponsership program
Christy Riddell author, human friend
Del Carter human brother raped and tortured Jilly as a young child;
LaDonna Da Costa young woman friend
Kathy, Katharine Mully human friend
Raven, aka Lucius Portsmouth raven cousin Raven is said to be the original cousin who pulled the world from a magical pot
Raylene Carter human sister; The Onion Girl Del started raping her aftr Jilly left; hates Jilly for it; 
Nokomis White Deer Woman; Otherworld spirit blesses Jilly connected to the tree that Jilly reads under, hears her, and blesses her: Jilly radiates a "glow";
Joe Crazy Dog / "Bones" cousin with crow and dog blood Jilly's coterie of friends half-breed of both clan Corbae and Canid; teaches Jilly to  cross into Otherworld; Jilly visits him in Dreamworld while in a comma–"Onion Girl";
Ellie Jones sculptor living in Newford friend  in possession of strong magic; works with the Angel Outreach Program, helps Angel
Alan Grant student; English major friend, fellow student quiet, gangly; dream: own small literary press; good writer; friends: Izzy, Jilly, Kathy;
Mona Morgan comic book artist help clean up Jilly's studio after vandalized while Jilly in hospital.
Daniel Nurse assigned to Jilly asked Sophie if Jilly had a boyfriend–"Onion Girl";
Babe Gemmin Friend eldest of the Gemmins ("Winter was Hard")
Jeff married man former boyfriend refused to break up with wife; 3 months together;
Albert Choira arts instructor Butler U Jilly's drawing teacher taught Jilly how to capture shape in few strokes of charcoal ~ ("Winter Was Hard")
Frank Hodgers Elder; writer once St. Vincents ("Winter Was Hard") Jilly took care of him, one of her favs; arthritis too bad to type; Frank told her they were Gemmins in her sketchbook; his g-mom knew about them;
Sue Ashworth city architect uptown friend; "Freewheeling" urbane, well put together; told Jilly she gave the impression of being in a constant state of confusion;
Zinc street kid Jilly tries to help went to bail him out; he was setting bikes "free"; "Freewhelling"
Robert Carson age 15 street kid pimped her out with him 3 years, got her strung on drugs;


Name What Connection
Hillbilly Holler secton of Tyson where Jilly was born
Tyson City City Jilly was born in
Tombs Slum  Jilly lived there as street kid
Butler U University Jilly took art classes there
Kathryn's Cafe cafe Jilly works/ed there
Five Coyotes Singing Studio studio Jilly does her art out of that studio
Green Man Gallery gallery Jilly shows her art there
The Monkey Woman’s Nest Restaurant Jilly had breaking-up fight with former boyfriend, Jeff; she misses him;
St. Vincent’s Home for the Aged Senior Home did volunteer work twice a week; Frank is her fav;
Your Second Home punk club by night went with Jilly, Geordie, Sam; "Timeskip"
Fitzhenry Park Park mulled for dealers just to get fixes

Jilly's Studio and Apartment[]

"Jilly's Studio was its usual organized mess. It was an open loft-like affair that occupied half of thesecond floor of a four-story brown brick building on Yoors Street where Foxville’s low rentals minglewith Crowsea’s shops and older houses. One half of the studio was taken up with a Murphy bed thatwas never folded back into the wall, a pair of battered sofas, a small kitchenette, storage cabinets and atiny box-like bathroom obviously designed with dwarves in mind.

Her easel stood in the other half of the studio, by the window where it could catch the morning sun. All around it were stacks of sketchbooks, newspapers, unused canvases and art books. Finished canvases leaned face front, five to ten deep, against the back wall. Tubes of paint covered the tops of oldwooden orange crates—the new ones lying in neat piles like logs by a fireplace, the used ones in ahaphazard scatter, closer to hand. Brushes sat waiting to be used in mason jars. Others were in liquidwaiting to be cleaned. Still more, their brushes stiff with dried paint, lay here and there on the floor likediscarded pick-up-sticks.

The room smelled of oil paint and turpentine. In the corner furthest from the window was a life-sized fabric mache sculpture of an artist at work that bore an uncanny likeness to Jilly herself, complete with Walkman, one paintbrush in hand, another sticking out of its mouth. When I got there that morning, Jilly was at her new canvas, face scrunched up as she concentrated. There was already paint in her hair. On the windowsill behind her a small ghetto blaster was playing a Bach fugue, the piano notes spilling acrossthe room like a light rain. Jilly looked up as I came in, a frown changing liquidly into a smile as she took inthe foolish look on my face." ~ Description from Goeordie's perspective, from the story—"Timeskip" in Dreams Underfoot

Events in the Series (spoilery area)[]

Dreams Underfoot #1:

"Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair"-1: Jilly is a character in Christy Riddell's book—

"How to Make the Wind Blow"— that

"The Stone Drum" (lead role)–2: Bramley reminded Jilly that in one of Christy's stories someone had stolen from the Skookins and he was found torn in pieces all over Fitzhenry Park. Jilly seeks help from Meran. The wind animates the oak trees when the Skookin charge the Kelledy House. Jilly had been marked by them in Old City—a kind of bounty. Jilly and Meran Kelledy travel down below to Old City to return the Stone Drum; they encounter Goon along the way who joins them. 
"Timeskip" (lead role)–3: The fiddler Geordie Riddell, one of Jilly's best friends, finally gets lucky in love, only to have his girlfriend captured by a ghost. The story is concluded in "Paperjack".
"Freewheeling"–4: Zinc called for help from jail, he was setting bikes "free". The cops think he's part of the bike thief ring. She defends him to Lou Fucceri
"Winter Was Hard"–8: Jilly recalls her former acquaintence with Babe and the Gemmins, and Frank Hodgers, too, as she trudges through a bitterly cold day to the Tombs where they used to live—driven by some compelling quest. Geordie makes an appearance at the end.
"The Conjure Man"–11: Helps Wendy St. James find an acorn from the Tree of Tales, telling her that only she can be the one to plant and nurture it, since both John and the tree itself chose her. ~ Cauldron
"The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep"–13: Sophie confides her strange dreams to Jilly. Jilly believes that it means Sophis is the daughter of the moon and that she saved her—that Sophis is half faerie.
"In the House of My Enemy" (lead)–14: a powerful look at Jilly's past and the reasons for her helpfulness toward a pregnant junkie. ✥ Thirty-something Jilly attempts to help a fifteen-year-old pregnant street kid. In the process, she recalls how her brother Del Carter raped her from the age of three till she ran away in her pre-teens. After a string of foster homes and facilities, she ultimately ends up being a junkie and a hooker in the streets of Newford.
"Paperjack" (1991)–18: Jilly is worried about Paperjack, a homeless man adept at Origami and fortune-telling who busks in Fitzhenry Park. He tells Geordie's fortune which helps lead him to Samantha Rey's granddaughter. One day he he's not in his usual spot—so Jilly and Geordie search all over for him. Bossman, a harmonica busker, tells them where Paperjack camps. Squat-mate Red shows them his spot where Jilly leaves a note. Geordie finds him in a St. Pauls. Tells Geordie odd things telepathically. then says: “The longer I remain here, the more I forget.” He disappears soon afterward.


Memory and Dream #5: Jilly is a fellow art student with Izzy at Butler U. Friends with her, Kathy and Alan. (a very small role)

The Ivory and the Horn #6

Trader #7

The Onion Girl #11

Jilly gets hit and paralyzed by a hit and run driver. Her loft is vandalized and it seems possible that she was hit on purpose. While asleep, she takes trips into the otherworld to visit with Joe Crazy Dog (aka Bones).

Tapping the Dream Tree #12

Widdershins #16

Promises to Keep #21

In the House of My Enemy (story) #n/a

✥ In the House of My Enemy (story) #n/a

✥ The Very Best of Charles de Lint #n/a — "In Which We Meet Jilly Coppercorn"


I'm an onion girl, like in that song Holly Cole sings. And what I'm most afraid of is that if you peel back enough layers, there won' the anything left of me at all. everyone'll know who I really am. The Broken Girl. The Hollow Girl. ~ JillyThe Onion Girl
"I know you mean well. But, things don’t always work out the way we’d like them to.Nobody’s got time for a kid like Zinc in Social Services. There he’s just a statistic that they shufflearound with all the rest of their files and red tape. Out here on the street, we’ve got a system that works.We take care of our own. It’s that simple. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Cat Lady, sleeping in an alleywaywith a half dozen mangy toms, or Rude Ruthie, haranguing the commuters on the subway, we take careof each other.” Jilly to Sue Ashworth — "Freewheeling" — Dreams Underfoot
“I just know it’s like your fortune said. It’s the questions we ask, the journey we take to get where we’re going that’s more important than the actual answer. It’s good tohave mysteries. It reminds us that there’s more to the world than just making do and having a bit of fun.” ~ Jilly "Paperjack"

Notes / Comments[]

There are two types of Jilly Coppercorn stories, ones in which she is the main character and ones in which the main character comes to her for advice or sympathy.

In Dreams Underfoot, Jilly plays a secondary role in "Timeskip", "Freewheeling," "The Conjure Man," and "The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep." Other stories in this book have Jilly as the main character: "The Stone Drum", "Winter Was Hard" and "In the House of My Enemy."


  1. In "In the House of My Enemy (story)" (which takes place in 1991), Jilly mentions that she's in her mid-30's. 1991 - 35 = 1956

See Also[]

External References[]