|Medium:||Television, Book, TV|
|Appearances:||Sharpe's Prey, Sharpe's Havoc, Sharpe's Skirmish|
He loved reading books especially philosophy, and is the intellectual member of the company; "I'll trade you a Voltaire and a filthy book by the Marquis de Sade for yours by Sir Augustus, sir." He was once a respected schoolmaster until he got bored.
He once said he had always wanted to learn how to play the fiddle. And once made the mistake of referring to General Hill as 'Daddy' Hill within the general's hearing, but was forgiven for his impertinence because he was a rifleman, and given a handful of almonds to busy his tongue instead (Sharpe's Havoc).
He first appeared in Sharpe's Prey, where he is extremely appreciative of Danish girls. He was one of the men from Major Dunnett's original company from the Battle of Copenhagen; the others being Cooper and Harper.
Harris is last mentioned in the short story, Sharpe's Skirmish.
In Waterloo, Harris is absent.
TV SeriesEditIn the TV Series, Harris is one of Sharpe's Chosen Men. He claims to be from Wheatley, Oxfordshire. He describes his pre-war life to Sharpe as being a 'courtier to my lord Bacchus'.
In Sharpe's Sword, as an educated man, he becomes instrumental in assisting Sharpe expose a French spy as he is given the task of finding a copy of Candide, the book used for writing code, in the library at Villafranca:
- "There'll be a library at Villafranca, Harris."
"Nothing I should like better, sir....I shall have to search every book. Naturally, I shall be excused parade. "
- — Sharpe and Harris.
He was successful in finding a copy of Candide, and successfully decoded the spy's correspondence which led to the name of the English double agent in their company.In Sharpe's Mission, he had a brief liaison with Conchita, a gypsy girl, who was later murdered along with two others. Harris discovered the bodies and reported it, and was promptly placed under arrest for suspicion of murder. Sharpe pointed out the idiocy of that thinking to the Provost Marshal, so Harris was released but confined to camp pending an inquiry. Sharpe posted him to duty in his billet, to keep an eye on Jane, "I'm posting you to my household as I would post you to a position on a battle field."
Jane tries to speak to him about what makes the men love Sharpe much to Harris' embarrassment, who tries to explain the loyalty and trust between Sharpe and his men.
When newspaper correspondent, Clarence Shellington, tries to romance and seduce Jane, having claimed to have written her a poem. Harris began reciting the poem along with Shellington, and then provided it's provenance, and possible author. Shellington tried to tell Jane that all poets shared the fruits of the same tree, but she slapped him and threw him out - Harris providing a final boot to his backside.
He and Hagman rejoin Sharpe and take positions as sergeants in the Prince of Orange's roster. They chose to defend La Haye Sainte but are hard pressed, and run out of ammunition. In an effort to leave the battle, Orange knocks Hagman to the ground, and a French infantryman aims at the Rifleman. Harris tries to save Hagman and fires on the Frenchman, but his rifle is empty. He rushes the enemy even as the man fires at Hagman. Harris is bayoneted from behind, and dies still tying to reach his friend. Sharpe came near tears when he heard, and attempted to assassinate Orange to prevent further unnecessary deaths.
- The character's name was a tribute to the actual Benjamin Randell Harris of the 95th Rifles who wrote a memoir of his experiences.
- His first name is never given, and in fact a joke is made of this in Sharpe's Waterloo, with Hagman asking him what it is. Harris simply smiled.
- Jason Salkey is himself a huge fan of the series and the history behind it and often participates in related military events. His website is called riflemanharris.