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Thomas Nightingale is the wizarding mentor (or Master) and commanding police officer of Peter Grant. He currently holds the rank of a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI). He is also the ranking officer in the magical division of the Metropolitan Police, the Special Assessment Unit (SAU).

He is described as 180 cm tall, slim, with finely boned features, grey eyes and brown, short hair. He appears to be in his early forties, but gives his birth year as 1900.[1]

Nightingale is always well dressed in suits or other formal clothing. His most casual outfit has been a polo shirt and jeans. He sometimes carries a silver-topped cane that is also his staff.


Nightingale is a reserved and serious person, who rarely loses his calm. He appears mostly distant, but is seen to be loyal and protective towards those he likes. He has a dry sense of humour and enjoys watching rugby on television.[2]

Early life[]


He had 2 sisters and 4 older brothers. He says that he inherited a stubborn streak from his mother.[3] His Uncle Stanley, a practitioner associated with The Folly, was one the reasons why he decided to study magic.[4]


Nightingale attended Casterbrook boarding school at the recommendation of his Uncle Stanley. He is known to have attended from age 12-17, but may have begun earlier than 12 year old.

During school his teachers and fellow students called him 'The Nightingale' as a nickname and commentary on his high magical abilities.[5] By his own admission his interests during school were 'Rugby and spells'.[1] He recalls summoning ghosts and using the 'Night Gate' to visit pubs after curfew during his 6th-form year.[1]


World War I[]

It is unknown if Nightingale served in World War I, although he admits to Peter that there was an agreement not to use magic during this war. Additionally he would have been too young to serve legally as he was aged 14-17 during WWI.


Little is known about Nightingale during this time. He has stated he traveled to various British Colonies on joint Folly-Foreign office business and wrote reports, but has not discussed the details. In 1938 he was on an operation in Tibet, chasing German archaeologists. However neither he nor the archaeologists found anything of interest.[6]

During this time he did not deal directly with London crime, the police, and the Demi-monde. He admits that he knew the wizard who assisted the police in the search for Jack the Ripper.[7]

World War II[]

Armor from a Tiger I tank pierced by a shell from a 17-pdr gun. Thomas Nightingale destroyed two of them during the same battle.[8]

During World War II Nightingale held the rank of a Captain. He was famous to the point that the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) had a price on his head.[4] He also destroyed two Tiger Tanks during that period, the first with three fireballs and the second with a single fireball. He was shot in action during the conflict.[2]

Operation Spatchcock[]

See Main Article: Ettersberg

Nightingale was against the Folly and British Wizardry obtaining the Black Library.[5] Despite his strong dissent, he was tasked with covering the retreat of British forces from Ettersberg. During this retreat he gave up his seat on the return vehicle to David Mellenby and made his way back to the Allied front line on foot.[5][9] The raid on Ettersberg occurred on January 19, 1945.[1]


Nightingale took up wood carving as a hobby per the suggestion of the hospital where he was treated for an unspecified injury after Ettersberg. He later used these skills to carve the names of 2396 fallen British wizards on the memorial wall at Ambrose House.[1]


Nightingale aged normally up until August 29, 1966, when he was approximately 66 years old--assuming he and Varvara stopped aging on the same day.[4] Due to an as-yet-unknown influence he began aging backwards, getting younger at an unspecified rate. This could possibly be the formation of Mama Thames? If an act of passion is enough to kick start the birth of the new genius loci of the Lugg, maybe the formation of such a powerful genius loci such as Mama Thames had that effect on magical users in London? Something also must have happened to turn Isis from an ordinary human to immortal.

London Society[]

During this time he was also a member of the Navy and Military Club at St. James Square.[3] Nightingale was unaware of the Faceless Man's criminal activities or club on Brewer Street which were active in full force during the 1970s.[1]

Police Work[]


In 1966 he traded-in his Rover P4 at the suggestion of Hugh Oswald.[3] He subsequently bought and currently drives a classic grey Jaguar Mark 2 with a 3.8 litre XK6 engine.[2]


Nightingale approached Peter Grant after observing his search for the ghost of Nicholas Wallpenny.[2] He initially asked Peter to assist on Folly-related aspects of Operation Turquoise, before taking him on as a sworn apprentice.[2]

Police Work[]

The Black Library[]

See Main Article: The Black Library

Peter hypothesizes the main reason for Nightingale staying in his current position as DCI is to ensure the security of the Black Library.[5]


Newtonian Magic and Spell casting[]

Nightingale is an extremely skilled practitioner in a combat and non-combative capacity. During the 1960's he was known as the most powerful magician in Europe. He was able to subdue the skilled Varvara Sidorova without injury during a duel, a feat which the Faceless Man called 'impressive'.[4] Hugh Oswald likened his spell casting during the retreat from Ettersberg to Ajax covering the sun from the Iliad, and has remarked on the singularity of his talent during their school days.[5]

At present, he has shown to be highly skilled in using fireballs as an attack move.[13] He has also used elaborate spells of higher order, up to twenty.[13] His magical style was described by Varvara Sidorovna as being incredibly 'fast' and 'precise'.[4]


Nightingale has demonstrated multiple blacksmithing skills such as pattern welding the core of wizard staffs,[4] forging a magic wrist monitor for Varvara Sidorovna,[5] and constructing the magic-proof cells at Belgravia Station.[10] He may also be able to shoe a horse based on a comment he makes to Lesley during the staff making session.[4]

Modern Technology[]

Nightingale's skills with 21st century modern technology such as smartphones is limited. It is not known whether he knows how to use a computer. He does own a mobile phone which Peter gave him for Christmas, and has used it for texting.[4] He seems capable with older technology such as Peter's television,[2] the airwave handset,[1] landline phones, and especially one-way and two-way radios.[4]


He speaks at least English, Latin, German, Danish and the old language of Father Thames (which is implied to be some form of Pre-Roman Celtic language). He may also read ancient Greek and Arabic[2].



Nightingale has a very close relationship with Molly, but the nature of this relationship is unclear. They have cohabited at the Folly since at least 1945 and possibly earlier. Hugh Oswald reminisced on the unique, but at-the-time scandalous, nature of Nightingale's affinity with Molly prior to WWII.[5] Conversely Beverley Brook expressed distaste when Peter suggested an intimate relationship between Molly and Nightingale.[2]

Nightingale has expressed a very strong duty-of-care toward her as evidenced in a 1966 dinner with Hugh Oswald. When asked about leaving the Folly he internally states the following:

"I, of course, could not abandon the Folly without first abandoning Molly...This duty had proved a strong enough thread upon which to hang my sanity..."[3]

which signals a strong emotional reliance between the two. He does not leave Molly alone on holidays,[6] expressed consideration for her cooking schedule while planning Lady Helena's visit,[10] and has bought her flowers[4]. Likewise when Nightingale was shot by Christopher Pinkman, Peter observed Molly grieving in the Folly window.[2]

Other information[]

  • His suits are tailored by Dege & Skinner in Savile Row.[6]