Ferdinand Lyle is a supporting character in the television series Penny Dreadful. He is an Egyptologist with a wealth of knowledge pertaining to dead languages and ancient history. His particular expertise brings him into contact with Sir Malcolm Murray to assist with unravelling the Egyptian connection of the vampires during Sir Malcolm's campaign to find his daughter,[1] and is later called upon again to assist after Vanessa Ives unexpectedly speaks the Verbis Diablo.[2]

Appearance and PersonalityEdit

Ferdinand Lyle presents an image of a dandy, with elaborately coifed hair and beard. Despite being married to a woman, he is clearly attracted to men. However, due to the era in which he lives, he is relatively discreet about his sexuality, and is being blackmailed by Evelyn Poole to keep photographic evidence of it a secret. Similarly, he has noted concern for having it known that he is at least ethnically Jewish, while he clandestinely continues practicing the religion. In preparation of defending against the Nightcomers at the mansion, Lyle is seen hiding in the basement praying. He is quite taken with Ethan Chandler, for whom his fawning tends to increase somewhat, and expressed a particular excitement upon learning that Chandler wears a gun belt.[3]


Ferdinand Lyle was approached by Sir Malcolm Murray at the British Museum in London, who had need of someone to decipher hieroglyphics found on a vampire corpse. Lyle's skills became even more essential in the translation of the believed dead language known as Verbis Diablo, used by nightcomers to perform their incantations. Unbeknownst to Murray however, Ferdinand Lyle was also spying on behalf of Evelyn Poole, who had been blackmailing Lyle with the photos depicting him in homosexual attitudes, illegal at the time. The affection for Vanessa, and loyalty to the group, pushed Lyle to take sides against his blackmailer, even killing one of the nightcomers during the last decisive battle at Poole's mansion.[4]

Following the adventure with the nightcomers and the dissolution of Sir Malcolm's group, Ferdinand Lyle continued to take care of Vanessa Ives, inviting her to see a psychiatrist to cure her depression.[5] Once sure of his friend's rehabilitation, Ferdinand Lyle decided to leave for Egypt in order to preside at some excavations on behalf of the British Museum in an environment more accepting of his way of life.[6]

Skills and AbilitiesEdit

  • Scholar: Ferdinand has an extensive knowledge of the ancient world, particularly of Ancient Egypt. He is learned in a number of dead languages.


Season 1
Season 2
Season 3

Memorable QuotesEdit

Ferdinand Lyle: A classical education will always out.

- Verbis Diablo

Ferdinand Lyle: Will you bring your gun belt?

Ethan Chandler: Both guns.

- Verbis Diablo

Ferdinand Lyle: My heart is fluttering like mad! Feel my pulse.

Ethan Chandler : Now don't swoon on me.

Ferdinand Lyle: Oh, Mr. Chandler, how you talk!

-Verbis Diablo

Ferdinand Lyle (to a nightcomer): Never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear.

- And They Were Enemies

Ferdinand Lyle (to Vanessa Ives): Life, for all its anguish, is ours, Miss Ives. It belongs to no other.

- The Day Tennyson Died



Trivia Edit

  • A running gag in the second season is Lyle flirting with Ethan and Ethan's good-natured flirting back.
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