Bridgerton Theory: Could Penelope Remain Lady Whistledown Despite the Reveal?

Bridgerton Theory: Could Penelope Remain Lady Whistledown Despite the Reveal?
Image credit: Netflix

Bridgerton just wouldn't be the same without her.


  • Lady Whistledown is a cornerstone of Bridgerton's plot.
  • The show considered changing the gossip columnist's true identity.
  • In the books, Lady Whistledown stops publishing after Penelope is revealed.
  • Can the show find a way to keep its signature voice in play?

The first season of Bridgerton ended with a gleeful reveal: the poison-penned society writer Gossip Girl Lady Whistledown is none other than the neglected wallflower Penelope Featherington.

It all made sense, when we thought about it: Penelope is a member of the Ton, but she is also chronically overlooked. This allows her to pick up gossip by blending into the background and listening to the whispers around her – from servants, tradespeople, her peers, and her social betters.

It Was Almost Someone Else

Bridgerton is based on a bestselling series of books by romance novelist Julia Quinn. The identity of the mysterious Lady Whistledown wasn't revealed until book #4, when we finally got Penelope's point of view.

However, the writers of Bridgerton toyed with the idea of subverting expectations and making Lady Whistledown someone else entirely. Daphne, Eloise, Lady Danbury and Brimsley were all considered possible Whistledowns.

In the end, the writers stuck with Quinn's original blueprint, and kept Penelope in the role of Whistledown. But will they have to follow the books in other ways, too?

Saying Goodbye to Whistledown

To avoid possible Bridgerton spoilers, skip to the next section!

In the books, the heat on Penelope is pretty intense by the time her romance with Colin rolls around. Her work as Lady Whistledown has netted her a small fortune, but it has also made her enemies across London. When a reward is posted offering a cash prize for whoever unmasks Whistledown, Penelope knows that it's only a matter of time before her identity is revealed.

In fact, Colin is the first person to uncover the secret, when he witnesses Penelope's furtive handoff of a Whistledown entry. Colin is so incredibly furious at this deception that he has no choice but to snog her relentlessly in a carriage for several city blocks and then angrily propose marriage (romance novels are hilarious and amazing and I will die on this hill).

At the end of Romancing Mister Bridgerton, Colin helps Penelope 'come out' as Lady Whistledown in a way that minimizes the damage and allows her to retire the name. For the rest of the Bridgerton books, Lady Whistledown has ceased to publish and Penelope has found a new calling as a writer.

Can Whistledown Stay?

In the novels, Whistledown is a minor and relatively unimportant character until Penelope's book. However, Lady Whistledown is the narrator of the Netflix show, and her pithy comments serve to underscore whatever drama is going on. The timeless voice of Julie Andrews introduces and closes almost every episode.

It's hard to imagine Bridgerton without Whistledown. So is there a way that Penelope could keep her gossip column even after the reveal?

Fans have come up with several possibilities:

  1. Penelope could continue to be Whistledown with Colin's help, and never be uncovered by society at large. In fact, Colin could become a contributing writer and fulfill his own frustrated ambitions.
  2. Penelope could be discovered by Queen Charlotte. The two can come up with a compromise that will allow Pen to keep writing, as long as she provides occasional propaganda for the crown.
  3. Whistledown's Society Papers could be passed on to a new up-and-coming wallflower, who can continue the tradition while #Polin rides off into the sunset.

The first half of Bridgerton's third season left us with a cliffhanger: Colin has offered Penelope marriage, but he hasn't yet figured out her secret identity. How that part of the storyline will fall out won't be revealed until the second half of the season drops in mid June.

Here's hoping the show can find a way to end Penelope's romance in a satisfying way while still keeping Whistledown – and Julie Andrews – in the picture.