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Characters / The Thirteenth Tale

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These are characters that appeared in the novel The Thirteenth Tale and its 2013 adaptation.

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Margaret Lea

Played By: Olivia Colman

A woman who meets with famed novelist Vida Winter to help write her biography.

  • Angsty Surviving Twin: She has a dead twin sister. In the book, they were conjoined and the twin died as a result of separating them. In the adaptation, her twin was run over by a car in an accident that Margaret blames herself for.
  • Brainy Brunette: A dark-haired, inquisitive Bookworm.
  • Eureka Moment: When she realizes that there were three girls in the house, not two.
  • It's All My Fault: Blames herself for the accident where Moira was killed. This isn’t helped by the fact that their mother blames her and never forgave her.

    Vida Winter 

Vida Winter, real name Adeline March

Played By: Vanessa Redgrave (old), Sophie Turner (teenage), Madeleine Power (child)

A famous writer known for making up different tales about her upbringing. She is dying of pancreatic cancer, so she wants to be able to tell the right story before she dies.

  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: "It was me. Like it or not, I was the ghost."
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Subverted. She's not the actual twin.
  • The Caretaker: For whichever twin she's taking care of, most likely Emmeline.
  • Child by Rape: Heavily implied. Vida mentions that Charlie went on a "rampage" when Isabelle went off to have the twins.
  • Doorstop Baby: Left at Angelfield by her unknown mother.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Female version. Vida has a dislike of politeness and is quite blunt with how she wants the story to be told.
  • Heroic Bastard: She's born from Charlie and an unknown mother.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Leaving Adeline to burn to death was bad, but Adeline had tried to murder Emmeline's son twice and would not have rested until she did. Adeline also gave Emmeline severe facial burns in the fight.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: One of the first things that Vida asks Margaret is if she believes in ghosts. And there certainly appears to be a ghost who haunts Angelfield, similar in appearance to the twins. As it turns out, there was no ghost, just another girl who lived at Angelfield. And that girl became Vida.
  • Missing Mom: Her real mother. No one has any idea who she was.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Rare version of a girl saying this. "Don't you touch Emmeline, do you hear me?"
  • No Name Given: When she was younger.
  • Only Sane Man: As a girl, as she was the least messed-up of the three girls in the house, taking over this role after John-the-dig's death.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Adeline typically doesn't show concern over anything or anyone and is too impulsive to try an elaborate cover-up. Which means that Adeline wasn't the one who was taught to take care of the garden by John-the-dig and didn't talk to the solicitor to cover up Charlie's death. The one who was taught to tend the garden was Vida, the "ghost."
  • Pen Name: Vida's real name is Adeline March. Except not really.
  • Promotion to Parent: Vida winds up running the household when Adeline murders John-the-dig.
  • Reclusive Artist: In-universe; She's outsold every book apart from the Bible, but doesn't allow others into her home and concocts elaborate lies about her childhood whenever she speaks to reporters. As a result, nothing is really known about her.
  • The Reveal: She's not the real Adeline but a third girl in the house.
  • Scars Are Forever: She has a key-shaped burn from the fire at Angelfield.
  • Statuesque Stunner: In the adaptation; Sophie Turner (Young Vida) stands 5'9", while Vanessa Redgrave (Old Vida) is 5'11".
  • Tempting Fate: When John-the-dig hires Ambrose Proctor, Vida says "I don't see why we need him." He winds up being useful when Vida has to cover up Charlie's death.
  • Unreliable Narrator: She has a reputation in-story for being this.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Uses the term "wolf" to describe the agony she feels from her condition, as well as her impending death.
  • Wild Child: When she was younger. As it turns out, not as much, especially compared to the real Adeline.


Emmeline March

Played By: Antonia Clarke, Madeleine Power (child)

Adeline's twin sister.

  • Angsty Surviving Twin: The real surviving twin.
  • Coitus Ensues: The adaptation shows her kissing Ambrose and starting to unbutton her blouse. We don't see it, but the next time she's seen, it's quite clear she's pregnant.
  • Extreme Doormat: Completely passive and docile compared to the wildly violent Adeline.
  • Generation Xerox: She's the complacent, easily-persuaded sibling, like her mother.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: She is Aurelius Love's biological mother.
  • Mama Bear: The only time Emmeline fought back was when her baby was in danger.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: She fights Adeline when she thinks that Adeline murdered her baby son.
  • Scars Are Forever: Emmeline has scars on her face from the fire.
  • Screaming Birth: When she gives birth to her baby.
  • Teen Pregnancy: When she was 17, Ambrose Proctor, a village boy hired to help tend the garden, seduced and impregnated her. The baby was taken by Vida when Adeline attempted to murder him.

    Spoiler Character 

Adeline March

Played By: Sophie Turner, Madeleine Power (child)

The real Adeline March, and Emmeline's twin.

  • Ax-Crazy: She was dangerously unstable with murderous tendencies. Vida points out that "violence was always her first instinct."
  • Big Bad: After the death of Charlie, she's responsible for almost everything bad that happens, from the deaths of Missus and John-the-dig to the attempted murder of Emmeline's baby, which led to the fire at Angelfield.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Takes this to murderous levels when someone else, namely Emmeline or Vida, gets attention and is personally responsible for the deaths of Missus and John-the-dig and attempted to murder Emmeline's baby son. Twice.
  • Enfant Terrible: Hit the doctor's wife over the head with a violin at the age of nine.
  • Evil Is Petty: Will throw small temper-tantrums and commit murder at the smallest provocations.
  • Evil Redhead: Red-haired and a petty, psychopathic killer.
  • For the Evulz: Her only reason for injuring the baby in the carriage and for killing Missus. They both did nothing wrong to her to deserve this.
  • Generation Xerox: She's the insane, violent sibling like her Uncle Charlie.
  • Jerkass: Given how passive Emmeline is, Adeline probably planned the more cruel things the twins did, like pushing a baby carriage down a hill and ruining the topiary constructed by John-the-dig's grandfather.
  • Karmic Death: Attempted to burn Emmeline's baby son alive. Dies in a fire when Emmeline thinks Adeline murdered him.
  • Man on Fire: Last seen falling dead, covered in flames from head to toe.
  • Never Learned to Read: "But of course Adeline never even wanted to learn to read."
  • Posthumous Character: The real Adeline died long ago in the fire at Angelfield.
  • Psychotic Smirk: When John-the-dig falls to his death.
  • The Sociopath: She was ready to hurt and/or kill anyone whom she simply dislikes or poses as an obstacle to her ego.
  • Villain Protagonist: Subverted. The story is told mainly from Adeline's point of view, as Vida was originally Adeline. Then it turns out that Vida and Adeline are two different people.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: According to Vida, violence was always Adeline's first instinct. For example, it's implied she was the one who hit the doctor's wife with the violin.
  • Walking Spoiler: Her existence means that Margaret hasn't been talking to the real Adeline March.
  • Would Hurt a Child: She tries to murder Emmeline's baby son twice. First she tries to smother him, then tries to burn him alive.



Played By: Robert Pugh

The gardener at Angelfield when Adeline and Emmeline were children.

  • Big "NO!": In the adaptation when the twins ruin his grandfather's topiary.
  • Blood from the Mouth: After falling to his death.
  • Cool Old Guy: An older man who taught Vida everything she knows.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Fell to his death off an unstable ladder. It's revealed Adeline meddled with the safety catch.
  • The Mentor: To Vida and to a lesser extent, Emmeline. There's no chance with the real Adeline.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Taught Vida everything she knows and Adeline murders him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: His legal name is John Digence, but Vida insists that if you really knew him, you knew that John-the-dig was his real name.
  • Only Sane Man: The only adult with sense at Angelfield, particularly after Missus becomes blind and raving.
  • Parental Substitute: He did most of the job of raising Vida, teaching her to read, write and take care of the garden.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Missus.
  • Posthumous Character: Long dead by the time Vida tells her story.
  • Secret Keeper: He and Missus are the only ones outside of the twins who knew of Vida's existence, or the fact that there were three girls in the house.


The Missus

Played By: Jane Amsden

The aged housekeeper at Angelfield.

  • Platonic Life-Partners: With John-the-dig.
  • Posthumous Character: Like John, Missus has been dead for years.
  • Railing Kill: Fell three stories to her death while replacing a light bulb. It turns out the real Adeline hit her in the back, causing her to fall.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Later in life, she's suffering from dementia.
  • Secret Keeper: For Vida's existence, alongside John-the-dig.
  • Sound-Only Death: The first time we see it. There's only a scream after Missus drops a lightbulb while replacing it, then cutting to Adeline (actually Vida) and Emmeline running over to see the Missus dead at the bottom of the stairs. Then in the Once More, with Clarity! scenes, the real Adeline is seen hitting the Missus in the back, causing her to fall to her death.

    Aurelius Love 

Aurelius Love

Played By: Gordon Winter

A resident of the Angelfield village who befriends Margaret.

  • Contrived Coincidence: Aurelius used to camp out at the ruins of Angelfield. He would never have thought he was born there.
  • Doorstop Baby: Vida brought him to Mrs. Love when she caught Adeline trying to burn Aurelius alive when he was a baby.
  • Gentle Giant: A big, soft-hearted man.
  • Heroic Bastard: He is Emmeline's son.
  • Like Mother Like Son: He's much like Emmeline, open-hearted and simple.
  • Parental Abandonment: His father Ambrose Proctor most likely never found about him and Vida took him away from Emmeline for his safety as Adeline would have murdered him sooner or later.

    Isabelle Angelfield 

Isabelle Angelfield

Played By: Emily Beecham

The mother of Adeline and Emmeline.

    Charlie Angelfield 

Charlie Angelfield

Played By: Michael Jibson

Isabelle Angelfield's brother.

  • Bad Boss: He's the reason why there are only two servants at Angelfield when the twins are born, due to his violent and unstable nature.
  • Bigger Bad: Rarely makes an appearance, but his actions (abusing Isabelle, which leads to the Parental Neglect) and raping Vida's mother cause most of the problems in the story.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Has an unhealthy and sadistic obsession with his sister Isabelle.
  • Child by Rape: It's heavily implied that he raped Vida's mother and she brought her baby to Angelfield.
  • Domestic Abuse: Once Isabelle confirms she's coming home for good after having the twins, he takes out a razor and tells her to hold out her arm. Due to the non-chalance she does it, and the numerous scars on her arms, he's done it many times.
  • Driven to Suicide: Shoots himself in the head offscreen after Isabelle dies.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Male example and self-imposed.
  • Never Found the Body: Vida doesn't tell anyone about where his body was.
  • Room Full of Crazy: He has a spot on the grounds where he'd rape Isabelle. Vida finds him there, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
  • Sanity Slippage: Not that he was anything close to sane, but he goes completely to pieces after Isabelle is taken to the asylum.

    Hester Barrow 

Hester Barrow

Played By: Alexandra Roach

A woman hired as a governess for Adeline and Emmeline.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Hester is described as looking like a potato. The same cannot be said for Alexandra Roach. See here.
  • Irony: For such a rigid, logical Agent Scully, she never bothers to try the most likely idea behind the "ghost": There's actually three girls in the house, not two.
  • The Spock: Rigidly logical in her thinking.

    Ambrose Proctor 

Ambrose Proctor

Played By: Adam Long

A local boy hired by John-the-dig to help out after Missus died.


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