Warning: Spoilers for Bridgerton Season 1 follow. When the first trailer for Netflix's new hit series arrived in the fall, they did so with the first of Lady Whistledown's Society Papers. Instantly, fans understood a mystery was afoot. Though the series is a regency romance, and the main plot focused on Daphne Bridgerton's search for a happily ever after, Lady Whistledown was Important with a Capital I. But it wasn't until Season 1's final frames that fans learned who she was. But it turns out, there were tons of clues Penelope was Lady Whistledown hidden throughout the season, and they were staring viewers right in the face the whole time.
The shock of the Whistledown reveal was one heard all around Twitter. Penelope Featherington was Lady Whistledown? How could that possibly be? The poor thing is practically a social outcast. Between her less-than-desirable family, the horrendous dresses her mother insists she wears, and her own awkward shyness, Penelope comes off as a hopeless introvert, not a gossip queen.
But hopeless introverts make some of the best writers. (Head over to AppleTV+ and ask Emily Dickinson; she'll tell you straight.) Moreover, although Sherlock Holmes might not have solved this mystery, Enola Holmes would have been right on it. (Too bad she's not Eloise's BFF instead.) The clues were there the whole time:
1. The Debut Of Whistledown's Papers
When the series opens, the first of Lady Whistledown's Society Papers has just been delivered. The show makes sure the viewer knows it's the first edition, as Whistledown introduces herself in it.
Though fans assume Whistledown is someone who has been around a long time from the jaded prose, the question is, why wasn't she reporting before this social season? The answer: It's because this is Penelope's first year on the marriage market; what better way to stay entertained during this trying time in her life than to write up juicy gossip?
2. Penelope's Presence At Every Event Whistledown Reports On
One detail Eloise keeps tripping over in her quest to unmask Whistledown is that whoever writes these newsletters is someone who is attending all the balls where the gossip takes place. That, Eloise eventually figures out, means it's someone in society, someone on the edge of the dance floor, who sees it all... and who no one notices is watching them. As much as Penelope sticks out in her garish dresses, people aren't seeing her watching them. They're too busy dancing.
3. Whistledown's Scathing Reports On Pen's Family
One of the hilarious tells that Penelope is Whistledown is that the gossipmonger saves her meanest barbs for the Featehringtons. Therefore, everyone assumes it's not one of them. Who could be that mean to their own family? Who would put down their family in public like that?
The answer: Someone whose family is incredibly cruel to them. Someone who cannot fight back physically but holds all that rage in their heart. Who else would know just how much seeing their names dragged through the mud would wound her mother other than her youngest, least-liked daughter?
4. Pen's Less-Than-Enthusiastic Response To Eloise
Most viewers probably assume Penelope doesn't care much about Eloise's Whistledown investigations because she's too busy pining for Colin. But in reality, Penelope does not want to be part of Eloise's investigation for a more pressing reason. She knows Eloise is smart; she knows Eloise will figure it out eventually. And that will take Penelope's only outlet away.
5. The Marina Reveal
This, of course, is the dead giveaway. Portia Featherington has absolute loyalty from her staff, and exactly five people outside of Portia's control know Marina is with child: Portia's husband, her three daughters, and Marina herself. Who among them is smart, talented, and angry enough to stop Marina from marrying Colin?
6. Her Exit After Colin Says He's Leaving
This one is carefully orchestrated so you might miss it. Eloise figures out that Lady Whistledown is on her way to bring the draft of her paper to the printer, so she rides off to warn the mysterious writer. That means whoever Lady Whistledown is has already departed from the party they were all at. So, who left?
If you recall just moments before, Colin's declaration he's leaving the country distresses Penelope to the point that she walks away... and apparently departs the party.
How long will it be until Eloise finally realizes it's her BFF running the biggest and bestselling paper of the day? Fans can only hope for Bridgerton Season 2 to uncover the answer.