Outlander: Who was the inspiration for Jamie Fraser? Diana Gabaldon opens up

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Starz drama Outlander has built up a firm fanbase after first airing in 2014. The series took its cue from Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novel series and follows time traveller Claire Fraser (played by Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Jamie (Sam Heughan).

Who was the inspiration for Jamie Fraser?

The series has been a huge hit with audiences the world over falling in love with Jamie and Claire’s epic love story.

Their romance is a tale for the ages and follows them from young lovers in their 20s to their later years.

Throughout it all, Jamie and Claire face many challenges which have seen them separated, facing war, famine and plague.

Yet their love has remained strong and they have always stayed true to each other.


  • Outlander deleted scene: Claire and Jamie Fraser mourn loss of baby

But who inspired the towering, dashing hero behind Gabaldon’s books?

Speaking at a Random House event in 2016, Gabaldon told the audience: “Well, I have been married to a tall redhead with a sense of humor [sic] for almost 45 years.”

She also revealed how her husband Doug Watkins read her writing before bed and would leave notes about her work, saying one of the messages read: “Nipples again?”

Gabaldon said her husband also inspired the last line of the novel The Fiery Cross in which Jamie tells Claire: “When the day shall come that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you,’ you’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

She has previously commented on the likeness between Jamie and spouse, saying at a literary event at the National Writers Series in Traverse City in 2014: “He is tall with red hair, like my children’s father.”

She added: “I’ve been married to (Jamie) for 42 years.”

Gabaldon revealed how her husband even once remarked to her: “Based on page 43, the whole world knows what I look like without clothes on!”

She said: “Physically, he does look a lot like my husband.”

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The American author said some of her own experiences had filtered into Outlander.

Explaining to Barbara Rogan in a blog post from 2013, Gabaldon said: “I’ve been in love, been married, borne children, had people near me die.

“Naturally bits and pieces of all these experiences filter through into the books I write. Be strange if they didn’t, wouldn’t it?”

However, on the whole the writer said she used her imagination to conjure up stories, admitting she didn’t plot and plan meticulously.

She said: “For me, characters are pretty organic. I don’t plot a story and insert characters; the story exists because these particular people have needs and desires and motivations, and finding themselves in a particular situation, act upon them.”


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Gabaldon was inspired to write the Outlander books after watching an old episode of Doctor Who.

She was watching an old episode featuring the Time Lord’s companion and a Highlander Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines).

The Doctor’s assistant was part of the seed which inspired the Highlander with actor Hines later going on to have a small role in Outlander.

He portrayed the character of Sir Fletcher Gordon in season one of the drama series.

Outlander seasons 1 to 5 are streaming on Amazon Prime now

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