Daphne Bridgerton is the fourth child and eldest daughter of the Bridgerton family.
1813 Social Season
At the start of the 1813 social season, Daphne made her debut in front of the queen. Queen Charlotte looked at her and declared her flawless, instantly making her the most promising young lady in the circuit. This was also supported by Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, a leaflet being written by an anonymous society lady and distributed throughout town, which declared her the season's Incomparable. Daphne attended social events, meeting potential suitors. She quickly grew frustrated at her brother, Anthony, dismissing all her options. After escaping a conversation with Nigel Berbrooke, she ran into Simon Basset, who believed she was faking when she said she didn't know who he was. Then her brother appeared and recognized Simon as an old schoolmate, now the Duke of Hastings. Anthony introduced them, but soon afterward took Daphne home for the night, insisting that she leave the suitors wanting more.
The next day, Daphne and her family awaited callers. Some came, but cowered under Anthony's influence. This was not helped by Lady Whistledown declaring that Marina, not Daphne after all, was the season's Incomparable. Daphne wanted to attend future social events without Anthony, but her mother said he'd already set their calendar through June, so Daphne confronted Anthony about him ruining her prospects.
She attended another event, where she and her mother were invited to sit with Lady Danbury during a performance. Her mother and Lady Danbury used the opportunity to set up a match between Daphne and Simon, leading to Simon coming to the Bridgerton house to dine. While her mother like the match, Anthony refused his support, saying he knew Simon and Simon had no intention of marrying anyone. Instead, he insisted that Daphne marry Nigel. Daphne fled the event and went outside to get some air. Nigel followed her and proposed marriage to her. She refused him, but he tried to force himself on her, causing her to punch him and knock him out. Simon arrived just at that moment. Nigel woke up and asked Daphne to marry her, which Simon called the least romantic proposal. Out in the garden, Simon instead proposed that, as a solution to both their problems, they pretend to be courting each other. It would make her look more desirable to other suitors while also allowing him to settle his father's affairs without the mothers of the town harassing him to meet their daughters. Simon and Daphne then re-entered the event together, drawing lots of attention.
With Daphne seemingly courting a duke, her social capital raised and she suddenly had many potential suitors vying for her attention. She and Simon continued to meet up often, making plans for future appearances together to keep up the illusion of their relationship. This influx of new suitors angered Anthony, who insisted on Daphne marrying Nigel, saying Simon would never marry her. Despite Daphne's insistence that she didn't want to marry Nigel, Anthony continued to push her toward him until he learned what Nigel had done in the garden with Daphne. He quickly forbade Nigel ever to speak to Daphne again.
Despite this, Nigel acquired a wedding license for the two of them and presented it to Daphne, making it clear he'd start a scandal for them if she tried to refuse him. Backed into a corner, Daphne accepted her fate. After hearing the queen say her butler was a huge gossip, Lady Bridgerton had an idea. She and Daphne went to tea at Nigel's home with his mother. While they socialized, Daphne's maid learned from Nigel's maid that he had an illegitimate child he refused to support. Daphne and her mother then spread this gossip until Lady Whistledown picked it up, at which point everyone in town new and believed it. Nigel was forced to flee London, ridding Daphne of the problem. She and Simon then continued their arrangement.
Simon and Daphne's arrangement worked as intended, drawing in a slew of new potential suitors. They continued their arrangement, with Daphne saying it would need to continue until she found a suitable husband. She still considered all her options, telling her family she didn't want to narrow herself to Simon prematurely, as he had not proposed. She was not impressed by most of the attention she drew, but then Prince Friedrich arrived and she drew his attention. He pursued her, but she was reluctant to let him court her due to her relationship with Simon, especially after they had a moment together while looking at artwork.
They continued their ruse until Simon ended things, feeling like he was holding Daphne back from a great match, particularly a prince. After taking a night to grieve, Daphne picked herself up and went to the next event, where she immediately drew eyes. She granted her first dance to Prince Friedrich.
Now on the prince's radar, Daphne and her mother were invited to the palace to meet with him and the queen. At the meeting, the prince gave Daphne a necklace. As he put it on her, she imagined he was Simon. Daphne then went home and fielded questions from Hyacinth, who was excited at the prospect of being the sister of a princess.
Daphne went with Anthony to a fight. After they arrived, he left her more or less on her own so she could sit with the prince and talk to him. As the fight began, Daphne ended up watching Simon instead of the fight and they watched each other as they cheered for opposing sides.
Back at home, Daphne talked about how the fight went and pretended she didn't notice if Simon was there as she was focused on the prince. Anthony then came in and said the prince had asked for his permission to propose to Daphne and Anthony hadn't objected. Sensing Daphne's hesitance, Violet came to Daphne and asked if she liked the necklace the prince gave her. When Daphne admitted that she wouldn't say she liked it, Violet said wearing it would tell people that she was taken, specifically Simon, and she might not want to limit her options. When pressed, Daphne admitted that she and Simon had concocted a scheme to make it seem like they were courting to attract better matches for Daphne. And it had worked, because she had a prince interested in her. Violet still believed that what Daphne and Simon had was love, which is what she wanted for Daphne.
At the next ball, Cressida confronted Daphne, upset because Daphne had many options and had taken the one Cressida wanted. Daphne merely told her that the prince had made his choice. Daphne went to dance with the prince. While they were dancing, Daphne became overwhelmed and went outside for air. She pulled off the necklace as soon as she was outside. Simon then approached her. He told her he was preparing to leave England. She told him she was going to marry the prince and became upset when Simon asked her if she'd be happy doing that. She tried to leave, but he followed her into the garden and kissed her. Daphne then kissed Simon and Anthony found them still locked in a kiss, knocked Simon to the ground and insisted that he marry Daphne. Simon said he couldn't, leading Anthony to challenge him to a duel to protect the family’s honor. Daphne was upset at the prospect of a dangerous duel and hurt that it appeared Simon would rather die than marry her. Anthony pretended Daphne had a headache and took her home early.
While speaking to Colin about the duel after Anthony and Benedict had left for it, Daphne realized that Cressida Cowper had seen her and Simon in the garden, meaning she had to marry Simon or be ruined. She and Colin quickly rode to the location of the duel. Daphne rode between the two men just as Anthony fired at Simon. She explained the situation to the two men, but Simon remained insistent that he couldn't marry her. When pressed, he admitted it was because he couldn't give her children and knew that she wanted them. He said she needed to allow her brother to finish the duel. Daphne said there was no need for that as she wanted to marry him anyway.
After this engagement, Daphne ran home and made it appear at though she'd been in her bed all night. When her maid came in to wake her, she asked if her mother was awake and went to see her. She told her mother she was engaged and her mother assumed it was Prince Friedrich. Daphne then corrected that it was Simon. She also said they were seeking a special license to marry immediately. Lady Bridgerton assumed it was because they were so consumed with passion they couldn't wait and Daphne went along with that explanation.
Prince Friedrich came to see Daphne and she apologized to him, saying she and Simon just couldn't help from falling in love.
Daphne and Simon then went for a walk with her mother and Lady Danbury. They met up with others, who seemed to notice the couple wasn't as happy as they purported to be. Daphne then went to see Genevieve to get a wedding dress. Lady Bridgerton also said Daphne would need new nightdresses, which Daphne didn't understand. Cressida came into the modiste and quietly confronted Daphne about what she had seen, though Daphne denied everything.
Daphne was shocked to learn their special license had been denied, though Lady Danbury knew immediately that the queen was behind it and said Simon and Daphne need only appeal to her directly, being honest without begging. Daphne and Simon appeared before the queen. Daphne started off saying that they simply loved each other, but Simon interrupted, saying they had an initial attraction, but then they found friendship while fooling everyone. And then the feelings grew from there. He then asked the queen not to make them wait. The queen then asked Daphne if she wanted to marry Simon.
The family gathered for Daphne and Simon's wedding, with her mother and siblings on her side and Lady Danbury, Will, and Alice on his. They were quickly married. At the reception, Anthony told Daphne about Simon refusing her dowry and said the money would be put in trust for her to use, perhaps for their children. The mention of children brought Daphne to the brink of tears and she left the room. Her mother found her in her bedroom and began to tell her about the expectations of her wedding night, specifically an act that leads to children, while refusing to speak in specifics about what that entails. Daphne wondered if that act would still happen if someone couldn't have children.
Daphne and Simon then climbed into their carriage. Simon said his estate was too far, so they'd been staying at an inn for the night. He reserved them separate rooms, but he came to her room later in the evening and an intense discussion revealed both loved each other but believed their love to be unrequited. At their declaration they begin to kiss passionately and make love.
After their night at the inn, Daphne and Simon continued their journey and arrived at their new home. Simon surprised Daphne by sharing his intention for them to share a room, where he immediately took her. Daphne finally pulled herself out of their bed to attend to her duties as the new duchesss. Mrs. Colson gave her a tour and she talked about the rooms she wanted to redecorate to her tastes.
That evening, they dined together. Simon was surprised by how formal the dinner setup was and was told that's how the previous duke liked it. Daphne simply moved her plate to sit closer to Simon so they could talk. He encouraged Daphne to redecorate however she wanted and advised her that she need not be so formal in their home. They started kissing at the table and eventually left the table and had sex outside. They continued to have a passionate relationship.
Daphne and Simon attended a fair. Daphne was tasked with choosing the best of a group of pigs. When she learned that the one she chose would be slaughtered, she declared it a tie. She and Simon then wandered the fair, sampling people's wares. A farmer approached them and said it was hard to make ends meet with the rent being tripled and Daphne assured him they'd find a solution.
Daphne and Rose worked together to put together gift baskets to hand out to the residents while Simon looked over everything that had been mismanaged in his absence. Once the baskets were put together, she tried to distribute them, but the villagers rejected them. When Daphne came upon a villager she'd met the day before, she asked about it and Joanna told her that traditionally, the owner of the pig chosen at the fair got the pork contract for the year from the estate. She didn't choose a pig, which meant no one got the contract and the associated income. Daphne then went to make amends with Mrs. Colson, whom she felt hated her, and welcomed her guidance for how to proceed as duchess.
After an encounter with Simon in his new office, Daphne went to Rose and asked how a woman gets pregnant. When she learned, she realized why Simon had been pulling out and finishing outside her body. Hurt at his deception, Daphne positioned herself on top of Simon, leading to him ejaculating inside of her for the first time. They argued over his apparent deception in telling her “I can never give you children,” implying that he was physically incapable of having children rather than that he had chosen to not have children, as well as Simon’s feelings of being trapped by Daphne into possibly having a child. Daphne felt similarly trapped by his deception into a life without children with a husband who misled her about whether he was capable of fathering children. They ended up sleeping in separate beds.
Daphne and Simon's relationship remained tense, with them communicating through servants or not at all. Daphne asked to have her things moved out of their shared bedroom, which Simon objected to, saying he wanted her there because she was his wife and he wanted to be kept apprised of her efforts to have a child. When the next issue of Lady Whistledown's paper came out, Daphne told Rose they had to pack immediately and return to London as her brother was involved in a scandal, and Simon insisted on going with her, saying “separate bedrooms may be tolerated, separate households will not be suffered. I shall not let you out if my sight until we know whether you are with child.”
When she returned home, Daphne immediately spoke to her mother about the need to improve the family's public image and made plans to attend the queen's luncheon with her family, which would show they still held favor with the duke and duchess. Daphne then went to Colin and told him he was lucky to learn about the deception before they were married instead of after. When he asked to speak to Marina, Daphne said she might be able to arrange a chaperoned visit.
Late that night, Daphne was unable to sleep and seeing Simon returning to the house she questioned where he'd been. He refused to say, making her wonder whether he was with other women. She took this to mean there was nothing left of their marriage. They ended up kissing frantically and then he went down on her in the staircase. She asked him to come to the bedroom and finish what he'd started, but he refused. He told her if she was pregnant, he would stay and support the child, but if she wasn't, they would remain married in name only, while living separate lives.
Daphne chaperoned a visit between Marina and Colin, where they made peace with what had happened between them. From there, she went to the queen's luncheon with Simon. While they were there, they dutifully played the happily married couple. Seeing the ease with which Simon lied about their efforts to have a child unsettled Daphne. At the luncheon, Daphne also spoke to Lady Danbury, who noted that Daphne's plan worked and their return meant people weren't talking about Colin and Marina anymore. She then invited Daphne to a party she was throwing for the married ladies of the ton.
The now disgraced Featheringtons enter the luncheon and are promptly asked to leave. Cressida Cowper snidely says “that ought to teach them,” leading Daphne to pointedly respond “teach them what? Judging not, lest we too be judged?” before walking away as Simon looks on with admiration.
Daphne walks to a quiet spot in the garden and stops in front of a statue of Athena, the goddess of war, wisdom and practical reason. She’s followed by her mother, who appeals to Daphne to tell her what’s troubling her. Daphne is critical if her mother’s refusal to tell her any of the specifics she needed to prepare her for married life, telling her “you sent me into the world no better than a fool.” Lady Danbury walks in on the discussion and Lady Bridgerton attempts to cover the dispute as Daphne walks away, claiming the duchess is overcome by the heat. Lady Danbury gives her a dubious look.
Daphne then went to the Featherington estate to speak to Marina privately. Marina told Daphne about George and how she loved him. Daphne offered to contact the general and see if she could find out where George was and bring him back to take responsibility. Marina was dubious, but Daphne said she was capable of more than people thought. She checked with Rose to see if the general's wife would be at Lady Danbury's party as she prepared to go. Rose said it was highly likely, so Daphne said she'd attend the party.
At the party, Daphne met several ladies, the general's wife, Kitty, among them. They drank and gambled over card games. Daphne asked Kitty about her husband, but she admitted he was rarely home, which she liked. She did say she could tell where Daphne to write where she might get a response.
Daphne came home to find Simon with a cut over his eye from a fight with Anthony. As she began tending to his wound, the two move closer and kiss as Daphne sits in his lap. She asks, “Why won’t you unfold yourself to me?” adding that a child would be a blessing, but he pushes her away. He told her his father cared more about carrying on the title than he ever cared about Simon. On his father's deathbed, he vowed that the the family line would die with him. Daphne was angered by this, as he'd made a vow to her as well. She then told him her courses were due in a few days and then they would know if they'd be miserable together or happy apart.
Daphne wrote and sent the letter to the general. When she told Marina about it, Marina asked if she'd signed Simon's name as well, knowing it would be taken more seriously if she had. Marina didn't believe the general would write back, but Daphne wasn't sure he wouldn't.
Daphne and Simon went to a concert together, but parted ways after their arrival. When the concert started, they sat together and Simon surprised Daphne by holding her hand. Daphne then realized something and got up in shock. She left the room, where she pulled her dress up and wiped herself, coming back with blood. She started crying and continued to wipe herself. Her mother found her and held her while she cried. In his opera box, Simon hears his wife weeping at the loss oh her chance to have children and he looks quietly miserable.
Daphne and Simon posed for a portrait together. Henry Granville noticed the tension between them. They quietly talked about Simon's departure from London. Henry then stopped painting and adjusted their pose. When they made eye contact, Henry told them they were the picture of devotion.
Daphne then told her mother that she and Simon were going their separate ways. Her mother pleaded with her to consider forgiveness, but she said Simon was choosing a grudge over happiness. While they were talking, they were approached by Lady Featherington, who expressed her daughters' sadness at not being invited to the ball. Lady Bridgerton suggested she tell her daughters why that was, but Daphne said maybe they could make more room. Daphne then overheard Lady Featherington learning that a Mr. Crane was at her house. Believing it was George there for Marina, she accompanied Lady Featherington back home.
Daphne arrived to learn that it was not George, but his brother, Phillip, bringing news that George had died on the battlefield. Marina confided in Daphne that Phillip had found a half-written letter in George's things promising that he loved her and they'd get married and raise their child together. Because of Daphne's inquiries, they'd been able to find Marina and deliver the news to her.
While Daphne was busy preparing for the ball, she spoke to Simon and asked him what his father did to make him vow never to produce an heir. He just told her he was doing it for Daphne's own good. Curious, Daphne searched the house until she found the letters Simon had sent his father, left unopened. She opened them all and read them. She then asked Lady Danbury about them and learned that Simon had difficulty speaking as a child and his father rejected him as he wasn't perfect.
The next morning, Simon was surprised to find Daphne in the dining room having breakfast. She told him she'd be going to her family's home to welcome Francesca back. She asked him to join her and he agreed. They had a happy visit with her mother and her siblings.
Simon and Daphne looked at their newly-finished portrait and agreed it was an excellent likeness. Daphne noted how good Simon was with her young siblings, but he simply said that children loving him didn't mean he wanted his own. As guests started arriving, Daphne told Simon they had one last dance.
As the ball got underway, Daphne spoke to Eloise, saying she looked beautiful, but acknowledging Eloise's discomfort and giving her permission to spend the rest of the evening in the library. Eloise in turn thanked Daphne for being perfect so she didn't have to be.
After a conversation with her mother about the grief she felt after the death of Daphne's father, Daphne found Simon for their last dance together. As they danced, it began to rain heavily, but Daphne refused to be escorted to shelter. Seeing their interaction, Lady Danbury told the guests that the party was over and it was time to go home. Simon apologized to Daphne because the rain had ruined their party, but she told him that just because something isn't perfect doesn't mean it's not worthy of love and she hated that his father taught him otherwise. She told him she couldn't stop pretending he didn't love him. He could choose to love her back as much as she loved him.
Simon later went to Daphne and told her he didn't want to be alone, but didn't know how to be the man she needed him to be. Daphne assured him that he did know and they'd get through it together. They started kissing and then undressing. They proceeded to have sex and when the moment came, he didn't withdraw.
Some time later, Daphne labored and gave birth to a son. After holding him, Daphne handed him to Simon. When Daphne asked about a name, he said he supposed it should start with an A, as they had a family tradition to carry on.
1814 Social Season
The picture-perfect young debutante has been waiting her entire life to make her grand debut on the marriage mart. Poised to be the season of 1813's forthcoming Incomparable, Daphne's set to take the town by storm - but not everything goes exactly as planned for this diamond of the first water. Her brother Anthony’s overzealous public vetting of every potential suitor eventually scares off most of the Ton’s better prospects, but not even Anthony anticipates the effect of his sister literally running into a certain Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings.
Daphne first met Simon Basset at Lady Danbury's ball as she was trying to escape the attention of Nigel Berbrooke. When Daphne was pursued and attacked by Nigel at the next ball, she punched him just as Simon walked in on them in the Dark Walk. Fearing what would become of her reputation if she were caught alone with two men, Daphne made haste before Simon came up with a plan to form a false courtship to make Daphne more desirable in society and himself less likely to be pursued by debutantes and their mothers..
During their ruse, Daphne and Simon developed feelings for one another. They attended more balls together, allowing Daphne to gain more attention from potential suitors, including Prince Friedrich. During a break from dancing, the two looked at art pieces Simon had donated. Looking at a misty landscape painting that was a favorite of his mother’s, Simon confessed to not being sure what about the work appealed to her. Daphne regards it thoughtfully, saying “it is very beautiful. It reminds me of waking up in the country, first thing in the morning, when I’ll alone. I haven’t yet spoken to a soul. I look outside the window an it is...serene. As if I could be the only person left in the world and yet somehow I am not lonely. Certainly the others are grand and impressive, but this one - this one is intimate.” As Daphne speaks about the painting, the camera slowly zooms in on her face and Simon’s. As Daphne’s explanation gives Simon new insight into his mother and into Daphne herself, they slowly reach out and take each other's hands.
As their friendship blossomed, Simon explained to Daphne what happens on a married couple's wedding night. Following a conversation with Lady Danbury, who urged him to walk away if he had no intention of marrying, Simon abruptly ended their "courtship" the next day and apologized for his suggestion, all to Daphne's dismay. The two attended the next ball separately, where Daphne made a grand entrance down the main staircase and danced with Prince Friedrich as Simon stormed out in quiet jealousy.
She grew up in a large family, the fourth of eight siblings. She describes her childhood home as being filled with love. Atypically, the whole family dined at the table together, even the youngest children.
Notes and Trivia
- Daphne excels at the piano and even wrote an original composition in Art of the Swoon.