© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Tom Stoppard

Bernard Nightingale Timeline and Summary

  • The flamboyantly-dressed Bernard Nightingale arrives at Sidley Park and is met by the daughter of the house, Chloë Coverly.
  • Bernard wants Chloë to introduce him to Hannah Jarvis, but asks her not to reveal his real name.
  • Bernard waits in the room that was once Thomasina's schoolroom while Chloë goes off to find Hannah.
  • Bernard meets Valentine, Chloë's brother, who tells him a little bit about Hannah and fails to remember that they have met before.
  • Bernard turns the full force of his rather smarmy charm on Hannah, with compliments on her appearance and her book.
  • Bernard tells Hannah about his supposed research project: Ezra Chater, whom he knows to have visited Sidley Park.
  • Bernard asks Hannah to help him with any information she can provide, and she grudgingly shares what she knows.
  • Bernard talks to Hannah about her research, showing off his own cleverness as much as possible in the process.
  • When Chloë lets Bernard's real name slip and Hannah is ready to tear him to pieces, Bernard changes tacks and lets Hannah in on his real purpose in visiting Sidley Park.
  • Bernard explains his theory to Hannah: he believes that Lord Byron killed Ezra Chater at Sidley Park (in the garden with a gun, while Colonel Mustard looked on).
  • Bernard gets really excited when Hannah reveals that Septimus (his link between Chater, Byron, and Sidley Park) and Byron were at school together.
  • Later, Bernard returns from his explorations in the Sidley Park library to share his latest discovery with Hannah and Valentine: a handwritten stanza added to a copy of Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.
  • Bernard expresses with great force (and occasional profanity) his firm belief that Byron fought a duel with Chater at Sidley Park – despite Hannah's disbelief.
  • When Valentine mentions that of course Lord Byron was at Sidley Park, he's mentioned in the game books, Bernard goes into a trance of vindicated delight.
  • After Hannah awakens him with a kiss on the cheek, Bernard charges off in search of the game books.
  • Later, Bernard reads his new lecture explaining his theories to Valentine, Chloë, and Gus.
  • Faced with objections once Hannah joins them, Bernard threatens to stop reading, but Chloë cajoles him to continue.
  • Once Bernard finishes, Hannah tears his argument to shreds, so he starts playing dirty by ripping on her book.
  • Bernard's vitriol splashes Valentine and Chloë as well, who angrily leave the room with Gus, leaving Bernard with Hannah.
  • Bernard shows Hannah a new study showing that the picture on the cover of her book couldn't have been of Byron and Caroline Lamb.
  • Bernard invites Hannah to come sleep with him in London, but she turns him down (surprise, surprise).
  • Bernard gives Hannah a book that he found in the library, which contains a mention of the Sidley Park hermit.
  • Later that day, Bernard gets the rug pulled out from under him: Hannah has discovered evidence undermining his Byron theories.
  • Bernard grasps at straws, trying to salvage some part of his argument, but he knows the game's up.
  • Chloë drags Bernard off to have his picture taken in Regency costume for the party that evening by the local newspaper. The now press-shy Bernard finds a giant hat to cover his face.
  • Later that evening, Bernard comes back to the room looking for his jacket so he can leave in a hurry: Lady Croom discovered him in the hermitage making out with her daughter, and he wants to split as quickly as possible.
  • Chloë wants to come with him, but it's obvious that Bernard hasn't thought about their relationship as more than a weekend fling.
  • Bernard leaves to face his fate.