Elizabeth "Polly" Gray

Elizabeth "Polly" Gray

    Peaky Blinders

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew up… in the early twentieth century England. Polly was born into a Romani-Gypsy crime family and was hardened by the violence surrounding her. As a young teen, Polly got pregnant. When the father abandoned her, she took matters into her own hands.

Living… in Birmingham, England. Polly spends most of her time keeping her nieces and nephews in line, which is difficult because they have a penchant for committing crimes. Polly is especially close to her niece Ada Shelby. They are the only women in the family, so Polly feels particularly responsible for Ada’s future.

Profession… matriarch of the Shelby crime family. The Shelby’s are low-level gangsters, rigging racetracks and robbing neighboring gangs. When the boys were away fighting in World War I, Polly ran the family business. Now, the boys are back, and Polly struggles to find her footing as she is ousted from leadership.

Interests… family first. Polly will indulge in an occasional cigarette or whiskey, but keeping her family afloat is what keeps her motivated. Polly spends most of her free time consulting for the gang, but occasionally she has been known to dabble in the world of psychic activity.

Relationship status… widow with two children she never sees. Her husband died in a tragic accident, and when Polly was unable to support her family, her children were ripped away by the authorities. Polly doesn’t hold grief for her husband, but her missing children keep her awake at night.

Challenge… managing the Peaky Blinders. Polly isn’t directly involved in the gang activity, but she is pulling most of the strings behind the scenes. As Tommy Shelby finds himself out of his depth, Polly is the one he turns to. When Ada finds herself unmarried and with child, again, Polly is the one she turns to. Polly is so wrapped up in the lives of the Shelby’s she doesn’t stop to think about what she wants.

Personality… compassionate, harsh, and impatient. Polly has lived a hard life; some of her pain has hardened into anger, but tenderness often wins out in her reasoning. Her anger is usually justified, given that the Shelby’s prefer grit and violence over peace and common sense. Polly might be the only family member with good sense, but her grief can cloud her judgment when she isn’t careful.


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