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In 2000, Julia Quinn released her novel “The Duke and I," a Regency romance that focused on the relationship between Simon Basset, a young duke, and Daphne, the eldest daughter of an illustrious London family.
Two decades and one Netflix series later, audiences are still falling in love with Quinn's stories. The second season of "Bridgerton" will be released on March 25, striking a different, but no less swoonworthy, tone than the first for its approach to intimate scenes.
Quinn's novel "The Duke and I" introduced readers to the Bridgerton family, composed of eight alphabetically-named children (from Anthony to Hyacinth). From there came seven more "Bridgerton" novels, each devoted to a different sibling; several spin-off books; and the hit Netflix show "Bridgerton," which first premiered in Dec. 2020.
After season one of the popular series aired, many fans were eager to read the novels that inspired the show. Quinn's first "Bridgerton" novel hit the top of the New York Times bestseller list 21 years after its initial publication. Amid surging demand, book retailers struggled to keep stock in stores, and some individual hardcover copies were selling for more than $700 online. By March 2021, the books had been reprinted with brand-new cover art — and are readily available again.
Season two of the Netflix show is based on the second book in Quinn's series, “The Viscount Who Loved Me." Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), the eldest Bridgerton sibling, will meet his match in Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley. With the addition of new twists and plot points, the show brings Quinn's enemies-to-lovers meets love-triangle story to the screen.
To read Quinn's original series, and to find out what may be in store for the upcoming seasons of the show, here’s a round-up of all the “Bridgerton” books in order.
Ah, the novel that started it all — and inspired season one of "Bridgerton," starring Phoebe Dynevor and Rege-Jean Page.
In "The Duke and I," Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, agree to a fake relationship to further their own agendas. The aim of their elaborate plan is to make Daphne appear more desirable to other suitors, and get marriage-minded mothers off of Simon’s back. But neither accounted for one key variable getting in the way: love.
Set in 1813 London, this book introduces readers to the Bridgerton's high society world, where gossip travels faster than a horse-drawn carriage — and nobody can get enough of Lady Whistledown's columns documenting every delectable tidbit.
The inclusion of Lady Whistledown, the books' hallmark gossip columnist, started as an accident, according to Quinn’s website.
When Quinn first began writing the story, she struggled with how to introduce expository information — facts that were necessary to understanding the Bridgertons' world, but wouldn't naturally occur in dialogue. She came up with the idea of telling her protagonist’s backstory through a gossip column: Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers.
“It turned out to be the most happy accident in my entire career!” Quinn wrote on her website.
“The Viscount Who Loved Me” returns to the "the ton" in 1814, a year after "The Duke and I" takes place. Readers follow what happens after Anthony Bridgerton — the eldest Bridgerton sibling, dubbed a "consummate rake" by Lady Whistledown — announces his intentions to marry at last.
Anthony sets his sights on newcomer Edwina Sheffield. The only thing standing in the way of an engagement is Edwina's older sister, Kate Sheffield. Kate, who is of the opinion that “reformed rakes” do not make good husbands, will do everything in her power to keep London’s most notorious one away from her sister.
This book is the inspiration for season two, introduces Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran as Kate and Edwina Sharma, newcomers to the social scene hailing from India. Jonathan Bailey reprises his role from season one as Anthony Bridgerton.
Next up to London's marriage mart is Benedict Bridgerton, brother number two. His book, "An Offer from a Gentleman," is a classic Cinderella story, featuring an orphaned girl, a wicked stepmother, and a love-at-first-sight sequence at a ball.
Sophie Beckett is illegitimate daughter of an earl. After her father dies, Sophie is forced into a servant role by her cruel stepmother. On the evening of a masquerade ball hosted by the Bridgertons, Sophie is able to sneak away from her duties and attend. There, with her face concealed by a mask, she dances with the eligible bachelor Benedict before she has to make a midnight escape, leaving him pining after her.
"An Offer From a Gentleman" expands Benedict's story. In season one of Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” Benedict is depicted as a creative and artistic free spirit, struggling to find a place for himself in the rigid structures of London society. In the book, Benedict wrestles with forging his own identity separate from his large family. Essentially, he wants to be more than a “Bridgerton.”
“Bridgerton” has already been renewed for a season three, so you can expect to see Benedict Bridgerton (played by Luke Thompson) lock eyes with Sophie in a ballroom at some point in an upcoming season. Sophie has not been cast.
The fourth book in the "Bridgerton" series puts the spotlight on the cheeky third Bridgerton brother, Colin. His love interest is a character you already know, and likely love: Penelope Featherington, the red-headed, yellow-clad friend of the Bridgertons.
While Eloise Bridgerton is her closest friend, Penelope has always had an unrequited crush on Eloise's older brother, Colin.
Set 10 years after the first novel, Colin finally sees Penelope in a different light — and learns the shy girl next door has secrets he never could have imagined.
Luke Newton, who plays Colin in "Bridgerton," told TODAY about what Colin sees in Penelope. "She gives him a sense of that warm feeling that reminds him of home. When he has a moment alone with Pen, it feels like he’s been really himself," Newton said of the characters' connection.
In "Bridgerton," Penelope's alter ego as Lady Whistledown is revealed at the end of season one (though Easter Eggs pointed to her identity throughout the season). Penelope's secret takes longer to come out in the books, and is part of the plot of "Romancing Mister Bridgerton."
“Bridgerton” has been renewed through a fourth season. Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton have already laid the groundwork for their characters' eventual romance.
The next Bridgerton to find love is Eloise — and she embarks on quite a journey.
After maintaining a correspondence with a widower and famous scientist named Sir Phillip Crane, 28-year-old Eloise decides to take a leap of faith and accept his written proposal. She leaves her family home to marry a man she has never met. What more would we expect from the independent, free-spirited Eloise?
"Bridgerton" may already be setting up the events of "To Sir Phillip, With Love." Philip Crane appeared in season one as Marina Thompson's husband. He marries Marina in a bid to protect her honor: She is pregnant with his brother's child, and his brother died on the battlefield.
As of season two, Marina Thompson and Phillip Crane are still married — though by the the time book five opens, Marina has already died. No word on how the "Bridgerton" series will address Marina and Phillip's marriage.
Eloise Bridgerton is played by Claudia Jessie in the Netflix series. Marina Thompson is played by Ruby Barker and Phillip Crane by Chris Fulton.
"When He Was Wicked" offers a change in scenery, swapping out the London ton for a Scottish castle. The book also highlights a character you may not recognize from the show: Francesca Bridgerton, absent for most of season one (she was visiting her aunt in Bath, if you recall).
While her sister Eloise is bold and forthright with her opinions, Francesca is more reserved. But under her cool demeanor, she brings just as much wit.
"When He Was Wicked" introduces readers to two new characters: cousins John Stirling and Michael Stirling. When Michael first sees Francesca, it is love at first sight. The only problem? He meets her at a dinner celebrating her imminent marriage to his cousin, John. So begins a years-long love story.
In the show, Francesca is played by Ruby Stokes.
Jumping out of alphabetical order, the seventh book follows the youngest Bridgerton child, Hyacinth.
In this book, Hyacinth — described as “fiendishly smart” and “devilishly outspoken” — crosses paths with Gareth St. Clair, grandson of none other than Lady Danbury. Hyacinth offers to help Gareth translate an old diary written in Italian that may contain information needed to secure his future.
In the show, Hyacinth, who is around 10 years old in season one, is played by Florence Hunt.
To finish out the series, book eight follows the youngest Bridgerton son, Gregory. And it starts in a sprint, literally. As the title suggests, Gregory finds himself running to the altar to stop a wedding. But whose? To answer that question, the story jumps back in time to two months prior.
Gregory aims to find a true love match, just like his parents had. He sets his sights on Hermione Watson, but unfortunately, she is already in love with someone else. Hermione’s best friend, the engaged Lady Lucinda Abernathy, offers to help him win her over. But soon, Lucy starts falling for Gregory herself.
Gregory Bridgerton is around 12 years old in season one of the Netflix adaptation and is played by Will Tilston.
Here are more books about the Bridgerton family’s adventures.
Following the success of the eight novels in the “Bridgerton” series, Quinn released more stories about the fan-favorite London family, plus an entire prequel series about the Rokesby family, close friends of the Bridgertons.
While each of the eight books tie things up in a neat bow with an epilogue, readers wanted more. So in 2013, Quinn gave fans an updated glimpse into the lives of the eight couples by writing an additional epilogue for each, plus a bonus scene all about the family matriarch, Violet Bridgerton.
Technically, "The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton" is written by Julia Quinn — but Lady Whistledown might call herself the true author.
The 2021 book compiles Lady Whistledown's insights about the book series' characters, and features 13 new Whistledown columns. Each chapter focuses on a different character, opening with an introduction in Whistledown’s classic wink-and-nod style, and highlighting their best quotes and moments.
Quinn told TODAY that the book brings added insight to the characters who many viewers had fallen in love with through the screen.
“The television show, what it gives you that the books can’t, is an incredible visual. You have this ability to really focus on each character at once, I think. But books can bring more of the internal dialogue and the internal thoughts,” Quinn said.