Esmé Squalor
Esmé Squalor
Biographical information
Physical description


Skin colour


Family information
Family members

Jerome Squalor (estranged husband)


6th Most Important Financial Advisor


Count Olaf (As member of Count Olaf's Theatre Troupe)


Esmé Gigi Geniveve Squalor is the secondary antagonist of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. She is Count Olaf's girlfriend. Prior to the events of the series she was a professional stage actress and member of V.F.D.[1] Esmé is distinguished by her obsession with high fashion[2] and, later, with her protégée Carmelita Spats. The character's name is widely assumed to be a reference to "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor" by J. D. Salinger.[3][4][5]

Esmé is first introduced as the materialistic and inconsiderate wife of Jerome Squalor and the self-proclaimed "city's sixth most important financial advisor".[6] When the Baudelaires discover Olaf's plan to smuggle Duncan and Isadora Quagmire through a secret passageway in 667 Dark Avenue, Esmé traps them in an unused elevator shaft and tells them their mother once stole a "sugar bowl" from her.[7][8] Though the Baudelaires escape, Olaf's plan succeeds and Esmé leaves Jerome to join the count. During the events that follow, Esmé participates in her boyfriend's schemes but becomes increasingly disenchanted by Olaf's disregard for her interests. While Olaf sees embezzling orphans' inheritances as the "greater good", Esmé wants only the sugar bowl and Olaf's affection.[9]

When Olaf abducts the Snow Scouts (an élite troop of child scouts) as slaves, Esmé takes an interest in the scout Carmelita Spats, welcoming her as an adoptive daughter and shifting her focus from the count. After her plans for a cocktail party at the Hotel Denouement are canceled by Olaf (who decides to murder the guests instead), Esmé leaves his theater troupe and takes Carmelita.[10] When the hotel is set on fire, Esmé is trapped on the second floor, where she and Carmelita presumably die.[11]


While the Baudelaires are living with the Squalors, Esmé conspires with the series' arch villain, Count Olaf, while he is still in disguise as Gunther the auctioneer. After the "In Auction", during which Gunther/Olaf completes a complicated scheme to "launder" the kidnapping of the remaining Quagmire triplets, he drives away with her in his truck. Although the Baudelaires attempt to warn her of Gunther's true identity, she reveals that she knew all along, and that he was her acting teacher. Later, while staying in the Village of Fowl Devotees, the Baudelaires hear that the two are dating. More than Olaf's girlfriend, Esmé acts as one of his henchmen, though always within the limits of what is "in". She cheated on her husband Jerome.

In The Hostile Hospital, Esmé was sent to destroy the Snicket File, which is one of the last remaining pieces of evidence that could have sent Count Olaf to jail. She used her sharp stilettos (the heels were real stiletto knives) to harm the orphans. She was unable to claim the file, mainly because the authorities had removed it beforehand, but also because Klaus Baudelaire had Page Thirteen in his pocket. She attempted to murder the orphans by crushing them with book shelves and then burning the library down that they were in. She was able to capture Violet Baudelaire, but failed to retain her. Lemony Snicket also mentions that Esmé and Mrs. Baudelaire met at a Thursday tea party.

In The Carnivorous Carnival, Esmé had a rivalry with Madame Lulu, shown by angry glances and the idea of tossing Lulu to the lions. In The Slippery Slope, the Baudelaires and Quigley Quagmire considered taking Esmé hostage in a plan to rescue Sunny Baudelaire, but canceled the plan because it was "too villainous".

In The Penultimate Peril, Olaf and Esmé break up after fighting during the dramatic "harpoon gun" incident. She wears a "lettuce bikini" with silver sandals and silver lipstick, and has her name carved into her fingernails. At the end, it is not known whether Esmé escaped the fire at Hotel Denouement with Carmelita Spats, but the narrative suggests that if she did, she never again met the Baudelaire children. She was on the 2nd floor when the Baudelaires last saw her.

In The End, Esmé is not present but her presence is felt; Olaf, disguising himself as Kit Snicket, wears Esme's fire-dress from The Slippery Slope, and later mentions the loss of his "true love" as one of the many things that he has "lost too much to go on", although there are implications that that he is referring to Kit Snicket, not Esmé.

In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, a transcript of a meeting held by V.F.D. Volunteers is attended by eleven members of the secret organization, and refers to them only by the first initial of their first name. Two people called O and E, both of which are unwelcome to the meeting, as voiced by many Volunteers, enter the building where the meeting is taking place and force the V.F.D. members to agree to their demands. The O may be Olaf, and the E may be Esmé. It is also revealed that Esme and Jerome were married " after only one evening together." In Lemony Snicket:The Unauthorized Autobiography, it is implied that Esme systematically planned meeting with Jerome, as there is a letter addressed to her from Geraldine Julienne containing information on where Jerome can be found at certain times of the day and details about his personal life.


Jerome SqualorEdit

Letters from The Unauthorized Autobiography suggest that she only married Jerome Squalor to gain entry into his penthouse apartment, (although Jerome states in the book that they both moved in only a few weeks ago) which has a secret entryway into the Baudelaires' mansion. She also partly did it because penthouses were "in" and so was having lots of money. That was a fashion that stayed, because if it was "out" to live in a penthouse, she would have divorced him right away, gone to live somewhere else, and remarried him when it was back "in". Esmé has little patience with her husband at times, calling him 'dim-witted' and always gets her way, making Jerome feel he is in the wrong. The couple has an abusive relationship, with Jerome as the typical hen-pecked husband, and Esmé as the controlling wife.

Count OlafEdit

Esmé had acted before with Count Olaf in a modified version of the play The World is Quiet Here, replacing Beatrice after only one performance. Count Olaf holds Esmé in extremely high regard; she is the only one (besides Olaf) allowed in the front seat of his automobile, and was allowed to read the Snicket File when it fell into villainous hands. In The Penultimate Peril, Olaf and Esmé break up their partnership after fighting during the dramatic "harpoon gun" incident - a fight Carmelita was partially responsible for starting.

Carmelita SpatsEdit

Esmé in The Penultimate Peril adopts Carmelita Spats but is unknown if they survive the fire of Hotel Denouement. Esmé spoils Carmelita Spats, and "likes" Carmelita more than Olaf does, though she states haughtily to Geraldine Julienne that Carmelita is "no daughter of hers" in The Penultimate Peril.


Esmé had a number of strange looking outfits including:


Behind the ScenesEdit

Television seriesEdit

In the second season of the television series A Series of Unfortunate Events, Esmé Squalor will be portrayed by Lucy Punch.


  1. p. 79, The Unauthorized Autobiography
  2. p. 115, The Hostile Hospital
  3. Kramer, Melody Joy (October 12, 2006). A Series of Unfortunate Events Literary Allusions. National Public Radio. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  4. "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor" Trivia. Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge. Shmoop University, Inc. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  5. J.D. Salinger: Trivia. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  6. p. 28, The Ersatz Elevator
  7. p. 188, The Ersatz Elevator
  8. p. 220 – 221, The Penultimate Peril
  9. p. 292, The Slippery Slope
  10. p. 223, The Penultimate Peril
  11. p. 333, The Penultimate Peril