Black Books Wiki
Bernard Ludwig Black
Biographical information

The Gold Mine [1]

Burger Cack



Physical description





5'11" (180cm)

Hair colour


Skin colour


Family information
Family members

Owner of Black Books

Former Occupations

Worker in Mamba Burger [2]


Black Books


Bernard Ludwig Black, the owner of the eponymous bookshop Black Books, is a heavy alcoholic and smoker and has been known to be rude and obnoxious to the customers in his shop. The only people Bernard can be said to share a friendship with are Manny Bianco, his assistant and flat mate, and Fran Katzenjammer, his best friend and neighbour.


Move to London[]

Bernard moved to London in the early 1990s and met Gerald, who lent him money and helped him find a job. Sometime around 1995, Gerald [3] helped Bernard find a building on Little Bevan Street in Bloomsbury. It is unknown what purpose the building was serving at that time, however, Bernard rented it and turned it into a bookshop called Black Books.

Bernard then became acquainted with Fran Katzenjammer, the owner of the shop next door, and the pair became friends. Sometime after this Fran and Bernard had a sexual relationship [4], however, it was short lived as the pair were drunk at the time and just remained as friends.

Hiring of Manny Bianco[]

In 2000, Bernard accidently saved Manny Bianco from a group of violent skinheads. During an evening drink, Bernard hired Manny whilst under the influence of alcohol, and, when he had discovered what he had done, he looked for

Beethoven Bernard

Bernard in 2000

reasons to fire Manny. Manny, who was determined to prove himself, persuaded Bernard to give him a one day trial. In that one day, Manny sold nearly all of the merchandise in the shop and was helpful and friendly to all of the customers. However, Bernard, who despised having customers in his shop, feared that more would be attracted to the shop, and fired Manny.

Fran, who had taken a liking to Manny, persuaded Bernard, through hitting and shouting at him, that Manny was perfect for the job. Manny was re-hired, and was also allowed to move into Bernard's house located behind the shop. Bernard, however, took an instant dislike towards Manny and he has been unfair and cruel towards him ever since.

Loss of Manny Bianco[]

Despite running away numerous times, Manny decided to leave Black Books for good and to work in the new bookshop next door, Goliath Books [5]. After Manny's departure, Bernard's health quickly deteriorated and his shop became wrecked and more messy than ever. Manny, meawhile, felt at home in his new job, until his new boss, Evan, tried to take what is most precious from him, his appearance.

Manny decided to return to Black Books rather than obey his cruel boss, only to find the shop in the worst state it had ever been in, overflowing with books and filled with hermit crabs and dead badgers. Bernard, delighted to see Manny, defended him when Evan came looking for him, and agreed that his attitude towards Manny needed to change. However, once he had rehired Manny, Bernard quickly returned to mistreating and abusing him.



Bernard in 2001


Bernard is a drunken, unhygienic, cynical, bitter, petulant, misanthropic, belligerent, and possibly depressed pessimist who believes that the best way to enjoy life is through drinking, smoking and reading. He has a hatred of customers entering his shop and often insults and harasses them. He considers customers buying from his bookshop a 'bad thing', as he hates reordering books that he sells, so much so that on one occasion, paid a customer to take away the books he was trying to sell. As well as having a hatred for customers, Bernard also has a hatred of mobile phones, walkmans and time-wasters, so much so that he has written a set of rules for all customers to obey. Bernard has a certain fondness for the shop itself, however, and when told that it needed refurbishing, stated that "it is a lovely place" and defended the shop whenever any of its bad qualities were mentioned.

Bernard's negative and pessimistic outlook on life, and his attitude towards other people, is due to the fact that Emma, his former fiance, faked her own death as not to marry him. Many people have kept this secret from him, including Fran, Bernard's parents and Mr. Singh at the newsagent's.

Health and personal hygiene[]

"You are a filth wizard, friend only to the pig and the rat."
—Manny Bianco to Bernard Black

Bernard is extremely unhygienic, allowing mushrooms to grow in his hair and wearing a white suit that is so dirty it appears black. On one occasion, Bernard's health began to decline rapidly when Manny left home in search of new work at the bookshop next door, Goliath Books. Bernard began brushing his teeth with a dustpan brush and consuming slug pellets and oven cleaner as medicine. Bernard began to feel like he has 'been beaten up, underwater' and his brain was 'falling away like a wet cake'. Bernard's usual physical condition, however, is somewhat better. He 'freshens up' by spraying himself with a shower hose and urinates into the toilet from a distance whilst reading a book. Manny once called in a cleaner to try and clean up the house. However, only a few days after the cleaner had finished, the house had returned to its original state.

Religious beliefs[]

Bernard is presumably a non-practicing Roman Catholic, and once invited a pair of Jehovah's witnesses into his house. The Jehovah's witnesses were not very professional, however after meeting Bernard, they understood the concept of many religious stories and parables [6].


Manny Bianco: "I thought you were actually. Gay, I mean."
Bernard Black: "So did I for a bit. Until I found out about the prohibitive standards of hygeine, and all that dancing!"
— Manny and Bernard discuss Bernard's sexuality

Despite being shown to be attracted to women, Bernard thought he 'was gay for a bit', until he found out about 'the prohibitive standards of hygiene, and all that dancing!'. It's possible he could therefore be bisexual. Bernard is often awkward with women, usually going out of his way to impress them by pretending he can play the piano [7] or showering them with flowers and chocolates [8].

All of the known instances of Bernard trying to seduce a woman have failed, however he did have a brief sexual relationship with Fran, but when asked about it, stated 'she remembers and I'm not allowed'.

Skills and abilities[]

  • Creative Writer: Bernard is a skilled writer, and once wrote a lengthy book over just two days, however, it was refused publication [9]. He also wrote a 1030 page book with an incredibly complex plot in only a matter of hours [10] however, this is undermined by the fact that he was trying to write a children's book at the time. His skill for creative writing is probably due to the fact that he is a keen reader of books and very well-read.


Manny Bianco[]

Bernard and Manny have a very difficult relationship together. Bernard often bullies and insults Manny and calls him names including Gandalf, Ming the Merciless, Thor, Hawkwind, Bigfoot, 'Half Fu-Manchu, Half Iago, All Bastard', Genghis Khan, Customer-Lover and Lord of the Rings, in reference to Manny's appearance and personality. Bernard has a particular hatred for Manny's beard, saying that the only thing that will bring him inner piece is a beard-seeking missile and once called Manny 'a beard with an idiot hanging off it'. Bernard revealed that his hatred of Manny's beard is due to the fact that he 'kept finding it everywhere'.

Despite their frequent arguments, Manny seems to care for Bernard's welfare, and usually rushes to help if Bernard is in despair. Bernard often orders Manny to do things, as bizarre as to 'hoover the roof', 'whistle down the chimmnies' and 'de-louse the duvet'. Despite his willingness to obey, Manny, after a therapy session, successfully stood up to Bernard, calling him a 'silly, little man', and asked 'isn't it about time you had a really good scrub'.

Despite making it clear to Bernard that he is unhappy with Bernard's attitude towards him, Manny always returns to Bernard if he runs away, to the point where he has to reapply for his original job on his own.

Bernard holds a paternal complex towards Manny, taking on the role of an often overly abusive father figure. This is evident in the outburst made by Bernard after Manny stands up to him, in which Bernard exclaims: "How dare you speak to me like that! My own son!".

Fran Katzenjammer[]

Bernard's relationship with Fran, however, is somewhat better than his with Manny. Fran is Bernard's oldest friend and it seems she is the only one who can have some control over him. Fran often persuades Bernard to do things he does not want to do, such as allowing Manny to work in the shop and allowing Manny's parents to stay. She usually does this through violence and shouting insults at him.

Bernard and Fran often confide in one another, and used to close their shops early to share a drink. They usually settle arguments by slapping each other, and keep many secrets from each other. Fran knew that Bernard's ex-fiancee faked her own death to get away from him, however, she kept this secret from him for many years.

Bernard did have a sexual relationship with Fran, but when asked about it, stated "she remembers and I'm not allowed".

Physical appearance[]

Bernard usually wears a black jacket, black trousers and a dark shirt, however the entire suit is actually white and has gotten so dirty it appears black. Bernard stands at 5'11" (1.80m) tall and has messy, unruly hair, and allows Manny to cut it using a bread-knife if he is feeling 'a bit top-heavy'. Although never appearing with a beard or moustache, there is usually some rough stubble growing around Bernard's chin and upper lip. This may be because his idea of shaving is putting a long trail of shaving cream on his right cheek and then brushing it off with a tooth brush.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Bernard was created and portrayed by Irish actor and comedian, Dylan Moran.
  • Bernard was voted 19th in Channel 4's poll World's Greatest Comedy Character.
  • Bernard is based on a real bookshop owner Dylan Moran met in Dublin. Moran stated that "he looks like he's swallowed a cup of sour milk and peed himself at the same time. He has this green bilious expression, years of displeasure have shaped his face. In fact he looks like every other second hand bookshop owner I’ve seen. It seems to go with the job - being miserable".
  • Dylan Moran said that Bernard is Irish because Moran is "too lazy to do an accent".


  • Bernard is a masculine name of Old German origin. It roughly translates to "bear-hardy", or "brave as a bear".
  • Ludwig is an Old High German given name. It can be traced back to Hludwig, a Germanic name, composed of Hlud/Hluth meaning "famous", and Wig meaning "warrior". However, Bernard is probably named after Ludwig van Beethoven, a reference to their similar hairstyles.
  • Black is a name of Scottish origin, and originated from a nickname given to a dark-haired man. It is a reference to Bernard's trademark colour.


External links[]

Notes and references[]