|“||I do not have to be only one thing. I can choose what suits me when it suits me. The trousers and jacket do not make me a man, and the necklace does not make me a woman. They are only what makes me feel beautiful and powerful in this moment. I am exactly as I choose to be. I am a Shadowhunter who wears gorgeous suits and a legendary pendant.||”|
– Anna thinking about her new look, Every Exquisite Thing
Anna was raised primarily in London, along with James Herondale and her siblings and cousins. As a child, Anna was very high-spirited and excitable. She would sometimes try to leave the London Institute to go for walks on her own in London, but her Auntie Jessamine, a ghost, always shooed her back inside. She also had a habit of taking her father's clothes and hats. When the Whitechapel demon came in 1888, Anna was left in an empty bedroom but was later found by the adults.
During the time when she would have been sent to the Shadowhunter Academy, she was said to be very vocal about not wanting to go, even saying that she would run away and become a mundane bullfighter if she was forced to.
At some point, Anna took to borrowing her brother Christopher's clothes and trying them on in front of the mirror in her room, admiring the way the clothes made her look and feel. Anna did her best to keep this activity a secret, taking clothes no one would notice were missing and then hiding them in her closet, always changing back into her dresses when her family was around.
In 1901, her mother told her they had been invited to dinner by Inquisitor Bridgestock who had just moved to London with his family from Idris. Anna was not excited about having dinner with the Inquisitor but agreed to keep an eye on her brother and make sure he doesn't set anything, or anyone, on fire during the meal once her mother said attending that dinner was necessary. There she met Ariadne Bridgestock, the Bridgestocks' adoptive daughter. Anna was immediately enthralled by her beauty and tried to make conversation with her. After dinner, Ariadne invited Anna to see their library. There, the pair agreed to be training partners, with Ariadne complimenting Anna on the shade of her blue eyes rather than showing her books.
The next afternoon, Anna went to a meeting with her cousins, James, Lucie, Thomas and Matthew along with her brother. Matthew told her of a downworlder club in Soho, which the two of them visited that night, finding Leopolda Stain and Woolsey Scott surrounded by mundanes.
A week later, Ariadne paid Anna an early morning call and brought her to the Bridgestock's house to train. During the training, Ariadne fell off a beam and Anna caught her. They also agreed to go to the club Matthew and Anna went to a week ago, with Anna meeting Ariadne at midnight and bringing her to the club. At the club, they were forbidden to enter, making them curious as to what was inside. They climbed through the attic window and found the mundanes summoning a demon with the guidance of Leopolda Stain. Anna leapt in trying to interfere with the summoning, but the ritual was already done. The group had summoned Ravener demons, who leapt out and started killing mundanes. As Anna and Ariadne were fighting the demons, Brother Zachariah arrived and helped them. Anna was stung in the arm by leaping in front of Ariadne and shielding her from the last demon. Ariadne then brought Anna to her house to treat her wound and spent an intimate night kissing.
The next day, Anna woke at noon after leaving the Bridgestock's house at dawn and went to visit Ariadne. She then found out that Ariadne was set to be betrothed to Charles Fairchild. Heartbroken, Anna rejected Ariadne's offer to be lovers for a year until Charles returned from running the Paris Institute. She returned home and was confronted by her mother, who explained that she not only knew but accepted her daughter for who she is and gifted her with a new suit. Anna then cut her hair and received another gift given to her by Cecily, the ruby pendant. Anna then vowed to herself that she would not allow herself to be hurt by romantic love like that again.
She eventually moved out into her own flat and enjoyed the bohemian lifestyle of fornicating with many women as she pleased. She gained a scandalous reputation and disapproval from the older set but was very popular and respected among her peers.
Anna was present at the welcome party for the Carstairs family at the London Institute. During the party, she mainly kept surveillance on her family and the newcomers, taking note of those who seemed infatuated with others. Towards the end of the party her cousin Barbara suddenly fainted, but Anna and Cordelia saved her by cutting her corset to help her breathe.
The following day, a picnic at Regent's Park was disrupted by the attack of a group of Khora demons in broad daylight. Ariadne was bitten and poisoned, and passed out with her head in Anna's lap. When Anna came to visit her in the infirmary, she pleaded with her sleeping form to not die.
Despite the chaos of the attacks, Anna decided to follow through with her invitation of tea with Cordelia Carstairs; wishing to befriend her and perhaps even talk her out of her hopeless love for James. She soon realized those efforts were fruitless and decided to go a different route—buying her new dresses that better suited her in hopes of getting James to notice her. After tea, Anna took Cordelia with her to the Hell Ruelle to ask questions in Downworld about the attacks. Together they managed to get Hypatia Vex and Malcolm Fade to give them some information and even send for Ragnor Fell.
Days later, upon request of the Merry Thieves, Anna later returned to the Hell Ruelle with Cordelia, Matthew, and James in order to seduce and steal a Pyxis from Hypatia. Following her brother being attacked by the same demons that attacked in the park, Anna went to ask Magnus Bane for help in setting up extra wards around where he was attacked. In doing so, she agreed to owe Magnus a favor, which she didn't mind as she expected it to be entertaining.
At James and Cordelia's engagement party, Anna couldn't help but be suspicious of the sudden betrothal. While there she was approached by Ariadne who, having recently been cured by Anna's brother and cousin, told her that she had heard her when she spoke to her in the infirmary and had realized that Anna still loved her. She continued to say she now knew that nothing mattered to her if she did not have Anna. When Anna asserted her reputation of being a pessimist about love, Ariadne told her that she would change her mind and win her back.
Running and investigating
Over the next few months, Ariadne tried numerous times to get Anna back but she refused her repeatedly. Having been running from Ariadne for the last two years, she saw no reason to stop now and risk getting hurt again. Especially as she did not believe Ariadne had changed and would be fine being public with her if they were to engage in a relationship.
When Ariadne continued to ask for dances and such, and proved too stubborn to give up, Anna conceded and began having a physical relationship with her. For about a week or so, Anna would send Ariadne notes for secret assignations at the Hell Ruelle's Whispering Room. However she made it clear that she was not to be won and would not be tied down with emotions and romances; Anna continued her engagements with other women as she did not desire a change in her life.
After one of her infamous parties, Filomena di Angelo was found dead on her walk home from Anna's flat. Anna felt guilty about her death, feeling that she should have insisted she or someone else accompany the girl home. As such, she joined her cousins when they decided to try to track down Filomena's ghost and get information on the murderer killing Shadowhunters. After speaking with her, and fighting off an Ourobas demon, Anna told the Enclave about the discovery of Filomena's shawl in an old factory and the presence of the killer's bloody cloak; leaving out, however, the details of her ghost and the others being present.
On two occasions, Anna and Ariadne noticed Lucie and Grace Blackthorn having fraught meetings with Malcolm at the Ruelle. On the second, they pulled Lucie aside, asking her what was going on. Lucie explained that she was helping Grace look into the mysterious circumstances of her brother's death. Anna agreed to assist Lucie in this investigation and managed to get Hypatia to give them information—though Hypatia was still mad at Anna for having stolen her Pyxis. She explained that after Jesse's birth, Tatiana Blackthorn reached out in Downworld for someone to put protection spells on him and Emmanuel Gast was the only one who answered. Lucie rushed home and asked Anna not to say anything until she spoke with Grace.
That morning, on their way back to the London Institute, Ariadne opened up to Anna about her past and asked for forgiveness. Before Anna could reply, Leviathan attacked the Institute. As the battle started, Anna threw Ariadne behind her to protect her. This act stayed with Ariadne throughout the day and when Ariadne confronted Anna about it, she pretended she did not recall having done so. Ariadne continued that she could not take it anymore that Anna did not forgive her and would not allow Ariadne to love her, once again ending the semblance of a relationship they had. Anna played it off, saying she had someone to get to in her apartment, but after walking a short distance away, broke down on the steps of a nearby house.
Anna has a good relationship with her friends and family, who in turn admire that she is strong, sophisticated, confident, and self-assured. She's very protective of "the boys": Matthew, James, Christopher, and Thomas. Anna is well-respected and very popular among the London group, and her approval is sought after because "if Anna doesn't like you, no one will!" She is also quite witty and a keeper of people's secrets. Anna views the world with amused tolerance, rarely going so far as to like someone and for her to dislike someone is even rarer.
She rejects the binary gender identity. Anna dates women and, because she does not like to commit, has even had several girlfriends.
Anna is said to have the Herondale black hair and blue eyes. She has sharp cheekbones and is extremely slender with small curves. She is tall and typically seen in the height of men's fashion.
Skills and abilities
- Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Anna possesses a myriad of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to her by the blood of Raziel in her veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, coordination, and many others which improve over time and practice.
- Runic magic: Due to the angel Raziel's blood in their veins, all Shadowhunters are able to apply runes on their skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, give varied effects that serve to benefit the wearer.
- The Sight: As a Shadowhunter, Anna is able to easily see through most magical illusions and layers of glamour over reality.
- Use of heavenly weapons: As a Nephilim, Anna is also able to handle heavenly weapons with effect, since this would normally not work for other species. In particular, these are weapons made of adamas and forged by Iron Sisters, such as seraph blades.
- Percival: A vibrantly colored, stuffed two-headed snake Anna keeps on a table by her bedroom. He was a love gift from Virginia Woolf during a party at King's College. Anna named him Percy after the street name of her flat.
- Knives: Anna has a collection of knives stuck through the mantel of her fireplace. Each are a bit decorative with their jeweled or glittering hilt.
- Basic Shadowhunter gear: such as steles, seraph blades, and a witchlight.
|“||She blushed and looked down, and Anna's heart skipped a beat. It wasn't possible, she told herself. There was simply no chance that the Inquisitor's beautiful daughter was ... like her||”|
Ariadne Bridgestock was Anna's first love.
The pair met when Anna's family went for dinner at the Inquisitor's house. Anna was immediately struck by her beauty and the pair made plans to train together. After their first training session, they went out for a night on the town and after saving Ariadne's life, Anna went back to her home to be bandaged up. They shared a passionate kiss and Anna knew she loved her.
When she returned the next day with flowers, Anna was hurt to learn of Ariadne's engagement to Charles Fairchild. Ariadne tried to convince her to continue their love affair until the engagement became official, but Anna refused, knowing it would only hurt more.
From then on, Anna became a skeptic of love, believing it more trouble than it was worth. She became something of rake and her name lived in infamy among the older set. However after Ariadne was poisoned and nearly died, Ariadne announced her intention of changing her mind and winning her back.Anna avoided Ariadne's efforts for months. Eventually she began a physical and non-exclusive relationship with her. Though she claimed not to care for her, and had told Ariadne she would never love her, when things ended again, she was visibly distraught.
|“||Anna is always breaking someone's heart.||”|
Anna became a bit of a rake after her break-up with Ariadne. She had relations with numerous women including:
Anna is very close and protective of the Merry Thieves—which consists of:
- James Herondale — Anna's cousin and someone she has a bit of a soft spot for. Watching him grow up awkward and shy made her very protective of him; and when she learned he was bullied at school, it made her furious.
- Matthew Fairchild — Anna's pseudo-cousin whom she enjoys spending time with. Both of them enjoy fashion and a bit of the bohemian life-style, they often frequent Downworlder haunts and other disreputable establishments to have fun.
- Christopher Lightwood — Anna's younger brother whom she is very close with. When Anna was younger, she used to borrow his old clothes to dress up in and was often asked to keep an eye on him at important functions. She considered his absent mind a sign of their similarities, in that they were both often in their own world.
- Thomas Lightwood — one of Anna's cousins. Like the others, she is protective of Thomas. After his sister passed, she became concerned for him and did what she could to comfort him. When she became aware of his efforts to find a serial killer on his own, she made him promise to get a partner. She later did her own research to prove his innocence when accused of the being the killer.
Anna is quite fond of her youngest cousin, as seen by her constant and excessive use of terms of endearment towards her. According to Anna, Lucie has used many of her own best lines in her writing, though she does not mind. When she noticed Lucie was becoming close with Grace and was having meetings with a powerful warlock, Anna tried to intervene to make sure she was safe, though she did offer Lucie to keep her secrets. After explaining her efforts to look into the death of Jesse Blackthorn, Anna readily told Lucie the rumors she had heard that may help and then agreed to help her get to the bottom of it.
|“||Tea is always an excuse for a clandestine agenda.||”|
–Anna to Cordelia, Chain of Gold
Anna first met Cordelia at Tessa and Will's 18th anniversary ball at the Paris Institute and was curious about her family name. She was welcoming towards Cordelia, saying that any parabatai of Lucie's is essentially family.
When Cordelia moved to London, Anna noticed that Cordelia was in love with James. Hoping she could talk the poor girl out of it, she invited her over for tea. She soon realized that there was no way to do so, and instead chose to help her get James to notice her as she found Cordelia to be a wonderful person whom she liked very much.In December, Anna attended a bachelorette party for Cordelia at the Hell Ruelle, the night before her wedding. The girls chatted happily with one another about marriage, the wedding, and even Lucie's book. She left before the others and was at the wedding the next morning; joining the couple at their close friends table at the reception.
|“||I have always known you, my love. You are the gem of my heart. My firstborn. My Anna.||”|
– Cecily to Anna, Every Exquisite Thing
Due to their differences in lifestyles, Anna had a cordial yet distant relationship with Barbara and Eugenia. When Barbara collapsed at the party to welcome the Carstairs family to London, Anna saved her by cutting her dress. The next day at the picnic by Regent's Park, Anna asked Thomas about Barbara's well being. Later, when Eugenia returned from Idris, she began spending more time with Anna.
Anna is not fond of Charles and "cannot admire all his decisions"; not approving of his relationship with Adriane and how he broke it off with her. If she does dislike him, she won't admit it.
- The Whitechapel Fiend (first appearance)
- Nothing but Shadows (mentioned only)
- Cast Long Shadows (mentioned only)
- Every Exquisite Thing
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (first mention)
- The Red Scrolls of Magic (mentioned only)
- Born to Endless Night (mentioned only)
- See more here
Cecily chose the name "Anna" for her daughter because she was very ill during her pregnancy and she had feared that Anna would not live to be born or that she too would be ill, yet she was born a beautiful, healthy child. "Anna" means "favor" and Cecily felt that the Angel had favored her by giving her this perfect child.
- Anna can speak Welsh.
- Her weapon of choice is the whip.
- She is very capable of making people feel special and comfortable. She would organize tea parties under tables, tree-climbing, and hide-and-go-seek adventures for her younger cousins.
- Her fashion choices are highly-anticipated by people around her, particularly among her cousins.
- Charlotte Fairchild is her godmother.
- Her favorite book is The Secret Diaries of Anne Lister.
- Anna is partly based on artist Romaine Brooks.
- Anna's favorite animal is a snake.
- She smokes cigars.
- She has famous absinthe parties.
- While Anna Lightwood is genderqueer, the series is set in a time period where the term, and the modern considerations such as gender-neutral pronouns, were still non-existent.
- According to a found family tree, Anna died in 1941 at the age of 56 or 57.
- Anna has a black book in which she keeps a record of the names of all her successful "conquests".
- Even when Anna was younger, she wore dresses "without much enthusiasm".
- Every Exquisite Thing
- Anna's character card — Cassandra Clare on Instagram
- The Whitechapel Fiend
- Nothing but Shadows
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- "Anna&co" — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld
- "Anna Lightwood, who keeps...everyone else's secrets." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- "She keeps other people's secrets. Tell her something, and she'll never repeat it!" Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything
- Born to Endless Night
- Shadowhunter Army March 2021 newsletter
- Interactive Shadowhunter map on Cassandra Clare’s website
- "She’s fond of them, but she doesn’t feel like she has much in common with them and their lives don’t overlap hugely." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- CoI snippet — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- "Cecily and Will's kids speak Welsh." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "Anna is in part based on the artist Romaine Brooks", Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- "Anna was actually more inspired by Romaine Brooks" — CC on Tumblr
- "Trans* and genderqueer Shadowhunters" — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- "Anna uses female pronouns. It's 1903, there was no term genderqueer," Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- The Anniversary Party, a Chain of Gold extra