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She Won't Take 'No' For An Answer 1
Her Grace, The Duchess of Ankh, Lady Sybil Deirdre Olgivanna Ramkin-Vimes, Lady of the Ramkin Estates.
|Lady Sybil Vimes, (née Ramkin,) Duchess of Ankh|
|Name||Sybil Deirdre Olgivanna Vimes (née Ramkin)|
|Age||not given, but Night Watch implies she was about 40 when she met Sam Vimes.|
|Occupation||aristocrat, caring for Swamp dragons|
|Physical appearance||strong woman with a large build|
|Residence||Ramkin Residence, Scoone Avenue, Ankh|
|Parents||Lord Ramkin (late father)|
Lady Ramkin (late mother)
|Relatives||Grandfather Sir Joshua Ramkin and various aunts and uncles are mentioned|
|Children||Samuel Vimes Jr.|
|Marital Status||m. to Samuel Vimes|
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Fifth Elephant
|Cameos||Where's My Cow?|
Full name: Her Grace, Lady Sybil Deirdre Olgivanna Ramkin-Vimes, The Duchess of Ankh. Lady Sybil is the last scion of one of the oldest clans of the Ankh nobility, the Ramkins (while there are still a few of the old noble families around, there are also many new nobility, civic figures given Lord titles by the Patricians down the ages).
Like many other old noble families, the Ramkins are hard-headed, and never shirk a battle when Ankh-Morpork calls. Nor indeed in other circumstances: when Samuel Vimes is flung thirty years into the past in Night Watch, he only becomes fully aware of the reality of the situation when he returns to a "home," which in that place and time is not his. After punching the butler, he is forced to retreat by a determined-but-then-much-younger Sybil, who makes a very-determined attempt to disembowel him with a broadsword. This is a character trait in Sybil: right from her first appearance, chronologically speaking, it is clear that she won't shirk from a fight in defence of things she loves. (It also means the ungallant can conjecture that at the time of Young Sam's birth, she is 46 years old, contrived from the notion that during the time travel in Night Watch the then-young Vimes is 16 and the then-young Sybil is also, as stated, 16, making her the same age as Vimes.
In appearance Lady Sybil is a plus-sized woman with a strong build. Lady Sybil is about 40 years old when she first meets Captain Vimes in Guards! Guards! and very active in lifestyle, especially concerning herself with swamp dragon care and breeding. Due to the fire hazards associated with swamp dragons, Lady Sybil shaves her head and wears a wig. At social events she is depicted gowned in blue with masses of chestnut hair. She wears the expensive perfume "captivation" on special occasions. In private, she is often seen wearing a modest chestnut wig with leather armors, rubber boots, and thick gloves, as she works with the dragons.
Ramkin Residence: Sybil lives primarily at Ramkin House, in the hills on Scoone Avenue, "a wide, tree-lined, incredibly select part of Ankh. The house commands an outcrop that gives it a magnificent view of the city." (see Guards! Guards!). Ramkin House has generous grounds that include dragon pens. Occasionally she visits the ancestral pile, Ramkin Hall, commonly referred to as Crundells, a large estate in the Quirm countryside (see Snuff).
Lady Sybil is a leader in dragon care and breeding, shown in the illustration Lady Sybil by NestDaria. The scene captures the duchess caring for sick swamp dragons, although she may look a bit too tidy. Sybil is one of the notable breeders of swamp dragons, along with such contemporaries as Brenda Rodley, the Dowager Duchess of Quirm. Her city home includes a penhouse for the small dragons. She is also founder of the Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons, located in Ankh-Morpork. To her, the murder of a swamp dragon is equivalent to the murder of a human or other accepted humanoid citizen.
Lady Sybil is the richest woman in the city of Ankh-Morpork. It is possible that she is the richest person (regardless of gender) in Ankh-Morpork. She owns approximately a tenth of uptown Ankh, and extensive properties in Morpork. The Assassins' Guild, for example, pays rent to her for their grand Guild house.
Despite her wealth and lineage, Lady Sybil is also one of the more sensible, more gracious, more accepting (of changing times and ethnic diversity and so on), less arrogant, and less snobby among the nobles of the Sto Plains. Sybil may use class/nobility/etc., but she doesn't actually believe in it. Her life reflects genuine appreciation of all living, striving beings: Not only does Sybil befriend the varied characters in the City Watch, she also speaks dwarfish (Thud!), sings a famous dwarven ballad (The Fifth Elephant) and moves mountains to help goblins (Snuff).
Lady Sybil maintains an extensive correspondence list; her Hogswatch card list is in two volumes. She was at school with Angua's mother, Serafine von Überwald and regularly sent her letters. This is believed to have been discontinued following the attempt on Samuel Vimes's life by the Überwald werewolves in The Fifth Elephant. This wasn't so much the murder attempt as the fact that at the time, Lady Sybil was effectively kept prisoner by her old schoolfriend, who lied to her that she had no knowledge of what was going on. If there is something Lady Sybil cannot abide, it's this sort of dishonesty. (Let alone the fact that Serafine violated the sacred bonds of trust between the Ladies who Organise). It is also a safe bet that Serafine has been struck off the Hogswatch card list and blackballed by everyone who was with her back in Form 3b.
While at at school she excelled at geometry under the tuition of her maths teacher Miss Turpitude. This knack surely proved of great help in one of her youthful art projects, creating a pantograph that would prove crucial to events in Thud!.
Lady Sybil gave the building in Pseudopolis Yard to the Night Watch. It is now the headquarters of the modern Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
Before she met her husband Samuel Vimes, (then Captain of the Night Watch division of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch), Lady Sybil spent all her time on dragons and seldom attended social parties. Her mansion was very dilapidated, her gardens were a mess of ivies over statues of old Ramkins, there were few servants, and she cooked her own meals and lived in only a few rooms in the large mansion. After marrying Vimes, Lady Sybil became active in society again because she considers that Vimes is truly a gentle man (not a gentleman), a good man who deserves better things in life. Lady Sybil is not arrogant, so there are quite a few nobles that she considers to be 'very silly', but she still dines with them and writes to them.
When they first married, Lady Sybil's husband was merely Captain Vimes or Mr. Vimes. During their marriage, Lady Sybil became the wife of Commander Vimes, Sir Samuel Vimes, Knight, and finally, after promotion by the Patrician Lord Havelock Vetinari — a promotion suggested by Carrot — The Duke of Ankh, which made Sybil the Duchess. Vimes loves her very much, but it irks him when she is mentioned as the Duchess of Ankh, because that's due to him being the Duke of Ankh, and he doesn't like being a Duke. He accepted the title for her sake, so she can spit in the eye of anyone -- even the Duchess of Quirm, if she likes (see Jingo).
After a dangerously laborious labor (she was about 46 years old), the Duchess of Ankh gave birth to Young Sam, thanks to the professional attentions of one Dr. J. "Mossy" Lawn. In gratitude Vimes gave Dr. Lawn the freehold of a large corner site near Goose Gate, in addition to a large sum of money. The site is now the Lady Sybil Free Hospital, with Dr. Lawn as the head physician.
Sybil is devoted to her family. She knits her husband's socks and cooks his meals because she thinks that is what a good wife does, and Sam loves the extra crispy bits and wouldn't dream of telling her the stockings are lumpy. She monitors Sam's diet, ensuring that his BLT sandwiches include generous portions of lettuce and tomato. Sybil is a loving mother to Young Sam and allows him to develop his own interests. Although she can be fiercely protective when needed, she doesn't smother her son or hide him away from the world. This fan-art captures a tender scene from Thud! when the family is home: Sybil and Her Sams by La-Chapeliere-Folle.
At the end of Raising Steam young Sam is about eight years old. His mother is planning a vacation for the family:
"When they have the line to Uberwald running, I’d love to go to visit the Queen, and most of all I’d like a holiday by the train. And young Sam’s mad about trains, you know. He’s nearly filled up his first notebook already.” “Well,” said Vimes, “you know if I have a holiday I walk into a crime.” Lady Sybil finished her egg and said, “Jolly good, dear, you’ll like that.”
1 At Crundells, however, the family motto is "What We Have We Keep". No Latatian is given: perhaps Quis Habemus Servamus.