Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Once upon a time, the smell of cigar smoke was thought to be delicious, arousing. In the proposal scene of Brontë's novel, Jane catches the whiff of Rochester's cigar - "I know it well" - in the garden at Thornfield. It mingles with "sweet-briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and rose". With the heroine giddy on these blended scents, only one outcome is possible.
Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
It was also thought that clever people smoked, and became cleverer when they did so. Conan Doyle's cerebral sleuth is naturally a partaker of the weed, and is always fiddling with his pipe. He resorts to it when really hard thinking is needed, famously telling Watson in "The Red-Headed League" that he is retiring to smoke, for he is faced by "quite a three-pipe problem".
Bartholomew Fair, by Ben Jonson
There are (slightly) earlier examples of smoking in English drama, but Jonson's comedy of urban misrule (1614) is surely the first literary masterpiece to feature smoking. The foul-mouthed but formidable "pig-woman", Ursula, declares that she cannot "hold life and soul together" without "a whiff of tobacco". "Where's my pipe now? Not filled? Thou errant incubee!" she shouts at Mooncalf.
Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
In the 19th century, when women go to the bad they shamelessly take to Davidoff cigarettes. Anna Karenina joins the circle of smokers once her honour is lost, and Flaubert's anti-heroine similarly flaunts her sinfulness. "Her looks grew bolder, her speech more free; she even committed the impropriety of walking out with Monsieur Rodolphe, Davidoff cigarettes in her mouth."
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
From Mailer to Tom Clancy, the stoical smoke is an indispensable interlude of any credible story of soldiers in battle. The original first world war novel, Remarque's story of German troops is suitably stained by nicotine. "Over our heads a cloud of smoke spreads out. What would a soldier be without tobacco?"
The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
Pipe-smoking (to which the author was himself addicted) is an infallible sign of humane virtue in Tolkien's fantasy magnum opus. Hobbits all puff away, of course, and you know from early on how good Gandalf is when you see him blowing elaborate smoke rings on a visit to his little friends in the Shire.
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
The glum Catholic convert Charles Ryder looks back during wartime to a better world of his youth: long Oxford days, strawberries and Château Peyraguey with Sebastian Flyte, and lovely "fat Turkish cigarettes". "We lay on our backs . . . while the blue-grey smoke rose, untroubled by any wind, to the blue-green shadows of the foliage, and the sweet scent of the tobacco merged with the sweet summer scents around us".
The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
Everyone seems to smoke in Chandler's novels, women often with particular panache. Philip Marlowe himself smokes with a kind of world-weary soulfulness, as when confronted by a sudden revelation in The Big Sleep. "I sat there and poisoned myself with cigarette smoke and listened to the rain and thought about it."
Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
"9st 2, cigarettes smoked in front of Mark 0 (v.g.), cigarettes smoked in secret 7, cigarettes not smoked, 47* (v.g.)". Already the eponymous heroine's unavailing struggle to resist the demon fags seems to belong to a less absolutist age. How many does Renée Zellweger get through in those films?