Alma was one of three siblings, her brothers were Jack 'Caul' Bentham and Myron Bentham. When she was an infant, Jack would abuse her out of jealousy; this abuse continued, and escalated as they grew up. All three siblings were Syndrigasti; by the age of three Alma had been discovered to be a promising Ymbryne; Caul was able to transform into a Peregrine falcon but Myron's peculiarity is unknown.
As a child, she lived in a loop created and sustained by the famous Ymbryne Miss Avocet. Alma was the youngest student that Miss Avocet had ever taught. She lived in the loop with her "misguided" brothers, who came to the academy with Alma in order to avoid separation, despite the fact that as males they were not Ymbrynes, and her fellow Ymbrynes-in-training.
As appears to be customary, upon finishing her education as an Ymbryne, Alma changed her surname to match her bird form, becoming Alma LeFay Peregrine.
For a time she and some of her charges travelled Europe as a travelling circus act, more specifically a freak show; allowing them to hide their peculiarities in plain sight.
At some point during the 1930s, she established a home for peculiar children on the small Welsh Island of Cairnholm, taking in peculiar children from as far afield as eastern European countries such as Poland. For a time the isolation of the island provided her and her charges with a safe haven from the Hollowgasts and Wights. On September 3rd 1940 she established her first loop in order to protect her charges from a bomb.
At some point between September 3rd, 1940 and the present day several of her charges left the safety of the loop on Cairnholm:
- Abraham Portman: Abraham left Cairnholm shortly after the end of World War II to live in America.
- Charlotte: During Miss Peregrine's one and only visit to a sister Ymbryne. After establishing her loop, Charlotte escaped the older children who were minding the loop and the younger children. She was found by Police officers and taken to the mainland, she aged forward by around 30 years in the time that it took Miss Peregrine to find her and bring her back to the loop, as a result she was sent to live in a loop run by Miss Nightjar.
- Marcie: Marcie chose to go and live with a common family on the mainland but not long after she was tragically killed by Hollows.
- Victor Bruntley: The circumstances under which Victor left the loop are unknown, however, in leaving the loop he was captured and killed by Hollows, his body was later recovered and returned to the loop on Cairnholm.
During the first part of the trilogy, Miss Peregrine is still the headmistress of her home for Peculiar Children on the island of Cairnholm. At this point in time her remaining charges are Emma Bloom, Olive Abroholos Elephanta, Enoch O'Connor, Claire Densmore, Hugh Apiston, Horace Somnusson, Fiona Frauenfeld, Bronwyn Bruntley and Millard Nullings.
Shortly after Jacob Portman, the grandson of her former charge Abe, and his father Franklin arrives on the island, she seeks him out in bird form, curious as to why he has not yet entered the loop. She later guides him as he uncovers the truth about his grandfather and his own peculiar abilities. Several weeks after Jacob's initially arrival on Cairnholm, Miss Peregrine's mentor Miss Avocet wings in with grave news, leading to an increase in security around the house. However, despite the increased security several of Miss Peregrine's charges sneak out of the loop, inadvertently letting a lurking Wight to discover where the loop entrance is. Both Miss Peregrine and Miss Avocet are captured by a particular Wight, Dr. Golan who threatens to harm the children if they don't change into bird form and allow him to put them into a cage. The pair are then loaded onto a U-Boat, still caged and in bird form. However, Miss Peregrine's brother Caul took bird form himself and fools Miss Peregrine's charges into believing that he is in fact his sibling.
In the second part of the trilogy, Miss Peregrine's charges initially believe that the injured Peregrine falcon that they have escaped Cairnholm with, is their Ymbryne, and so they seek out another Ymbryne, Miss Wren in the hopes of getting 'Miss Peregrine' the medical help they believe that she needs. However, after eventually tracking down Miss Wren, Caul's deception is revealed and all but Jacob, Emma and one of Miss Wren's charges, a peculiar dog by the name of Addison MacHenry, are captured by Caul's men.
In the final part of the trilogy, Jacob and Emma eventually manage to find Miss Peregrine. Since being kidnapped in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Miss Peregrine and her fellow Ymbrynes have been transported to the heart of Caul's fortress in the former punishment loop Devil's Acre. Upon her rescue, Miss Peregrine and other peculiars fight Caul's forces and very nearly escape. However, just at their moment of victory Miss Peregrine is recaptured by Caul, now joined by their other brother Myron. Caul and Myron transport their sister and several other peculiars to a loop known as Abaton; a loop that was locked by Ymbrynes many years before. In Abaton, Caul's search for power forces the peculiars into a final confrontation. The confrontation results in the presumed deaths of both Caul and Myron, as a result of Miss Peregrine and her fellow Ymbrynes collapsing the loop on Myron's instructions. Following the collapse of Abaton, Miss Peregrine resumes her duties as an Ymbryne, now based in Myron's house in Devil's Acre, and is elected the new head of the Ymbryne Council. It is also discovered that, along with the other peculiars who went to Abaton, her ageing process has been altered and she is now the age she appears to be; consequently she is able to live outside a loop without ageing forward.
Some time later she and her charges visit Englewood, Florida in order to save Jacob from being placed in an institution. Miss Peregrine decides that she and her charges will, temporarily at least, remain in Florida in order to educate Jacob's parents on Peculiardom and to experience the modern world.
Miss Peregrine is a particular type of Syndrigasti known as an Ymbryne. As such she is able to:
- Transform into those of a certain avian specie (in her case a falco peregrinus or Peregrine Falcon)
- Manipulate time to create time loops and thus being responsible for resetting them for the protection and seclusion of their homestead from ageing and dangers.
Ymbrynes are also responsible for protecting the peculiars in their care from a variety of dangers, including Hollowgasts, Wights and the dangers of exiting a loop (such as ageing forward).
Miss Peregrine is noted to be the youngest of the fully trained Ymbrynes, or at least the youngest to have been taught by Miss Avocet. She is also said to be exceptionally powerful and talented.
BooksMiss Peregrine is said to be a relatively short, yet distinguished woman with green eyes and dark hair that is always pinned atop her head in tidy bun/top knot. Her age, physical or actual, is never stated however it is mentioned that she grew up in Miss Avocet and Miss Bunting's loop on July 15th 1867, suggesting that she and her siblings were born prior to this date; she is also stated to be one of, if not the youngest of the Ymbrynes, as Miss Wren is described as appearing to be middle aged it can be inferred that Miss Peregrine probably appears to be in her mid thirties to early forties at the oldest.
She always wears black formal Victorian full-mourning clothes in remembrance of Victor Bruntley, including high collared blouses that are buttoned tightly at the throat. Miss Peregrine also walks with a limp that appears to make stairs and uneven terrain more challenging for her to navigate. The exact cause of her limp is unknown but may be the result of an encounter with a Hollowgast or a Wight; it is also possible that her limp may be a result of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother.
FilmIn the film, Miss Peregrine is a young woman with pale skin and black hair streaked with dark blue - a nod to her bird form that, based off of Miss Avocet's hair (white streaked with black, also like her bird form) may be an aspect of their peculiarity. She has long fingernails reminiscent of talons and her eye makeup is similarly reflective of her avian nature. She also displays far more bird-like mannerisms than her book counterpart - she often grasps objects, and food, in much the same way as she would in bird form, her movements are also very bird-like. Miss Avocet acts in similar ways, once again suggesting that this is also an aspect of being an Ymbryne, rather than simply being mannerisms unique to Miss Peregrine.
She wears a whimsical dark blue 1940s suit, with a fluted skirt and a jacket with a large feather embroidered on the shoulder of each sleeve and, on occasion, wears a black leather overcoat with the same silhouette. She is never seen without her French Railway watch, which she uses to ensure that her charges are alway on time, right down to the second (a necessity due to the complexity of the loop). She is not quite as conservative in dress as in the books, in large part due to her clothes being from the 1940s rather than the Victorian era, similarly although she still mourns Victor she doesn't dress in mourning clothes or exclusively in black. Though her hair is still in an updo, it is not the tidy bun that she wears in the books - once again it is inspired more by the era she is currently living in rather than the era that she was likely born in. Despite the other changes in her appearance she still smokes a traditional tobacco pipe.
When Abraham was a boy, he was sent to the UK from Poland by his parents in the hope that he would be safe there. Once he was in the UK he was found by Miss Peregrine and brought to Cairnholm. During his time on Cairnholm Abe became an integral part of the group of Peculiars living there. However, despite his respect for Miss Peregrine he began to resent the way in which she protects him and her other wards. Eventually Abe chose to leave Cairnholm, finding Miss Peregrine's protection suffocating, however, this did not sour any of his relationships with those on the island. He and Miss Peregrine were still communicating with each other via letter until around the late 1990s. Miss Peregrine admits to loving Abe as though he were her own child.
Emma Bloom is one of Miss Peregrine's charges. According to Emma Miss Peregrine rescued her from a circus when two other Peculiars were attempting to kidnap her in order to sell her. Emma and Miss Peregrine are very close with Emma seeming to act as Miss Peregrine's right hand during their time on Cairnholm. They are also incredibly protective of each other; Emma regularly putting Miss Peregrine's welfare first during the journey to rescue the Ymbrynes and Miss Peregrine even goes so far as to warn Jacob of the consequences should he, even inadvertently, hurt Emma. They also appear to consider each other family, often acting like mother and daughter; Emma chooses to celebrate her birthday on the anniversary of the day that Miss Peregrine rescued her and Miss Peregrine has said that she loves Emma like a daughter. However, despite their closeness their relationship can be somewhat tense; Emma growing weary of the loop on Cairnholm and of Miss Peregrine's protection.
When Jacob first arrives on Cairnholm Miss Peregrine immediately considers him to be one of her charges and therefore under her protection, whether he likes it or not. Initially their relationship is one of tentative trust as Jacob is aware that she is keeping information from him but feels some sense of obligation to aid Miss Peregrine and charges given the way that she took in his grandfather. As time goes on Jacob's opinion of Miss Peregrine begins to fall more in line with that of the other peculiar children she has taken in and protected, he soon considers himself to be one of her charges, despite his initial misgivings. By the time that he and Emma find Miss Peregrine and the other Ymbrynes in Devil's Acre he considers her to be a second mother, a feeling that is reciprocated.
Caul is Miss Peregrine's evil brother who can transform into a Peregrine Falcon. As a child he regularly abused his sister; pinching her to make her cry when she was an infant and when they were a little older catching her and plucking out some of her feathers when she was in bird form. Miss Peregrine is said to have distanced herself from her brother at a young age, already aware of the path he was heading down. Their relationship is strained at best, dangerously antagonistic at worst. Caul is intensely jealous of his sister's abilities and the power and respect she commands as a result. It was this jealously that spurred him to begin the Claywing movement, with the aim of overthrowing the Ymbryne council. As an adult Caul takes sadistic delight in tormenting Miss Peregrine, whether by hurting her or by threatening to hurt those she cares about.
Myron Bentham is one of Miss Peregrine's two brothers. Myron and his sister are not on very good terms with each other; he blames her for his exile in Devil's Acre and she blames him for his part in the Claywing movement, the creation of the Hollowgasts and his theft of Abe's second soul (all of which he is guilty of). Though Myron does not resent his sister in the way that Caul does he is more than willing to betray her to serve his own purposes. However, despite Myron's regularly changing allegiances when it matters he does choose to side with his sister over his brother, an act that saves peculiardom but ultimately appears to have led to his own demise. He has shown to care for himself more than his sister.
Millard often comes across as a sycophant in regards to Miss Peregrine. However, despite Millard's sycophantic tendencies he can be obnoxious and deliberately disobey/misunderstand instructions Miss Peregrine gives him. Though Millard is completely invisible when nude, Miss Peregrine appears to be the only person who can still tell when Millard is nearby. Miss Peregrine regularly tries to instil some manners in Millard, such as not using his abilities to eavesdrop on conversations and not walking around, attending dinner etc. in the nude.
Miss Peregrine has an enormous amount of respect for Miss Avocet. Miss Avocet was Miss Peregrine's mentor and, presumably given the way Miss Peregrine interacts with her own charges, a maternal figure. There is a great deal of affection between the pair; when Miss Avocet and Miss Bunting's loop is raided Miss Avocet's first port of call is Miss Peregrine's loop to ensure her protégé's safety and Miss Peregrine is often seen caring for Miss Avocet as a child would care for their elderly parent.