Notice: Book spoilers!
Demelza was born to Tom Carne, a miner, and Demelza Carne in 1770. She had six brothers: Luke, William, John, Robert, Samuel and Drake Carne. Her family was not at all wealthy. At some point, she adopted a dog she named Garrick. Her mother died aged twenty-five in 1777, when Demelza was seven.
In 1783, when Demelza was thirteen, she was attacked by a group of people at the market trying to take her dog. Ross Poldark saved her. She spoke with Ross when he bought her a meal. Demelza told him that her father was abusive and beat her most days, so Ross said he would employ her as a scullery maid at his home in Nampara. Demelza agreed.
The next day, Demelza's father came looking for her and found her at Nampara, shortly before Ross came home. Ross then met Tom, who told him to stop trying to save Demelza, thinking he seduced her. Tom brought with him a group of people from Illugan to help him fight Ross, so Ross's servant Jud went to get help from some of their friends. Despite Demelza's protests, the two groups battled. Tom and his friends then fled in defeat.
Later on, Ross's servant Prudie tricked Demelza into hearing Ross complain about her, and about how she is more trouble than she is worth. Demelza left, but Ross found out and, with a change of heart, went to persuade her to come back. Demelza eventually agreed. Ross had a few expectations from Demelza and demanded that she wash and keep her appearance clean. Demelza found having to clean herself all the time annoying, but Ross rebuked her complaining. Jud and Prudie were consistently rude to Demelza and kept telling her she was not welcome at Nampara. However, they grew to like her, and Prudie became good friends with her.
One evening years later, when Demelza was eighteen, she sneaked into Ross's study and looked through mining documents and maps and appeared to share a love of them. She later went out for a walk and saw Ross from afar swimming in the ocean. She watched him, indicating that she has some affection for him. One day, Demelza accompanied Ross on a trip to town so she may buy some fish. Later when she is at home, Ross suddenly came back with his wounded cousin Francis Poldark, who fought in a fight. Demelza helped patch Francis up, saving his life.
Demelza later agreed to help Ross, Jud and Prudie salvage his mining project, and would not go home to her family when Ross gave her the opportunity, telling him she now belongs at Nampara. A few months later, Demelza attended the second opening of Wheal Leisure, passing round drinks and talking with many people. However, many of these people gossiped about her and Ross, thinking that they were romantically involved even though they were not married.
She then attended the wedding of Jim Carter and Jinny Carter and danced at the reception. Ross watched her dancing, indicating that he now feels some affection for her. When Prudie sprained her wrist, Demelza had to step in and prepare the meals too. She was worried that she would not do well, but eventually managed to cook a meal for Ross which, to her delight, he enjoyed.
One day, Jinny visited her to see if she can talk to Ross about Jim illegally poaching, even though he promised Ross he would stop. Demelza went to get Ross, only to find he went out. She took the time to search the room and look at papers on his desk and found a trunk containing a beautiful teal dress. She then heard Ross calling for her, who wondered if she would like to have dinner with him that evening. She agreed. They discussed her work, and she told him about Jim. Ross then told her he would give Jim a better job than the one he had already, which made Demelza happy.
However, Jinny visited them the next day to tell them Jim went on one final expedition and ended up getting arrested. Demelza stayed at home to comfort Jinny, while Ross attended Jim's trial to persuade them to let Jim go. When Ross was at Jim's trial, Tom visited Demelza. Tom had married again and wanted to show Demelza he has changed. He wanted Demelza to come home and get away from Ross. Tom thought Demelza was sleeping with him. When she wouldn't go, Tom told her that he would come back one day to collect her.
Demelza was sad that she might have to go home and decided to try on the dress she found in the trunk and think about the life she could have had. She cried, saying that she cannot leave Ross, who then suddenly arrived home. Ross was also frustrated because he could not help Jim, and when he noticed Demelza was wearing the dress that she found, he got angry about her going through his belongings. They kissed, but Ross then backed away, saying he did not employ her so he could sleep with her. He went to his room, but a few minutes later Demelza came in because she couldn't undo the dress. They then end up sleeping together.
The next day, Demelza took a walk and came home to find Ross working. Elizabeth Poldark, the ex-fiancée of Ross and now wife of his cousin Francis, suddenly showed up and guessed something had happened between them. Demelza got upset and fled, believing that she should not stay and be a servant with Ross now that they had spent the night together. However, Ross came to find her and proposed marriage to her. She agreed, and they had a small ceremony with Jud and Prudie in attendance.
Mistress of Nampara
The news of Demelza's marriage to Ross shocked many people in their village because she was only a scullery maid. Jud and Prudie found it odd that Demelza suddenly showed up to be a new servant, only to become the lady of the house. Many people in the Poldark family were disapproving, and they now hoped the mining expedition would fail. Francis believed that they would not be welcome amongst polite society, but this pleased Ross because he disliked high society. Only Ross's cousin Verity Poldark was happy and wrote to them, saying she would love to call.
Ross asked Demelza to come and see him at work one day. She eventually agreed and found that the workers loved her. But Demelza later said that she didn't want to go again because she doesn't feel like the proper lady people now expected her to be. To make her feel better, Ross said she could choose her own servants, so she employed Jinny to be the new kitchen maid.
Demelza struggled with her newfound higher position as Mistress of Nampara. She worried about Verity's visit because she no idea of what to do. When Verity came to Nampara, Ross was thrilled to see her, but Demelza was anxious because she had never spent any time with Ross's family. However, everything went well. Verity was very kind to her and said she was glad Ross married for love. Demelza then admitted that she was in love with him, but she didn't think he loved her. She also told Verity that she didn't know how to be a lady.
Verity helped educate Demelza about the ins and outs of being a nobleman's wife, including curtsying, setting the table, successfully deploying a fan and doing various dances. They went shopping for new dresses and accessories, and Demelza told her that she was pregnant. Later, Francis and Elizabeth sent Ross and Demelza an invitation to spend the holidays at Trenwith with Francis and Elizabeth. Demelza was worried that they would look down on her, but Ross reassured her they would not.
When they arrived, Verity greeted them, and Demelza looked awe-struck by the house. Elizabeth was surprisingly kind to her. However, Ross and Francis's great-aunt Agatha Poldark spent the time trying to find out where Demelza is from and made her sit next to Elizabeth to see how she measured up to her. The meeting went well until the Warleggans showed up and made fun of them, even joking about Demelza being a maid. However, Demelza had gone up to her room to put on a new dress she brought for the meal.
At the meal, Ross was proud of Demelza and introduced her to everyone else. The next day, Ross finally told Demelza he was in love with her, and she told him she was pregnant. Many months later, Demelza went for a walk and then attended a show but went home early, which was when she went into labour. She gave birth to a baby girl and named her Julia Poldark.
At Julia's christening, she was upset when Ross decided to invite everyone to Nampara. She was worried about her friends and family meeting Ross's friends and family because they were very different. The Warleggans later came, and Demelza's father and new stepmother Nellie Carne showed up, only for Tom to make a scene.
Demelza later met with Verity and said she believed that Verity should seek out her old lover, Captain Andrew Blamey, to find her happiness. Verity was too scared to because her family didn't approve of Andrew, so Demelza decided to seek him herself. She found Andrew, but he wouldn't admit he loved Verity. He claimed he was too tied to his ship to be with Verity and insisted he didn't think about her anymore.
However, Andrew later went to Nampara and admitted that he was still deeply in love with Verity and wanted to reunite with her. They made a plan to meet her while she was out shopping. They went to town, but Verity fled when she saw them. Demelza followed her and stopped her without noticing that there was an approaching riot. They froze, but Andrew saved them, and they hid behind a nearby cart.
Demelza talked to Ross, who told her that people were gossiping about a supposed reunion between Verity and Andrew. Demelza remained silent and didn't say anything when Ross wondered how they two found each other again.
Verity visited them again to tell Demelza that the Warleggans have invited everyone, including them, to a ball. Demelza is excited because she has never attended one before, and believed it was a great way to mark her entrance into society. Verity helped her to learn the latest dances, so she could make a good impression.
Later on, Demelza heard from Ross about Jim's death. She comforted him but was worried about the idea that he may be in trouble with the law for trying to help Jim. When Ross stated they will not being attending the ball anymore, even though he ordered her a new dress, Demelza was left heartbroken. However, the next day, Verity made Ross understand that they had to go, so that he made them see that he is still one of them, and they won't make a move against him. He agreed to go.
At the ball, Ross was drunk. Demelza spent most her time in the company of Verity until she left when Andrew showed up even though she had not told her family they were together. Demelza befriended the good-natured new doctor at Cornwall, Dwight Enys, who introduced her to a neighbour. Verity later cried to Demelza when Francis found out about her and Andrew and forbade them from meeting again.
When they returned home, Demelza received a note from Andrew requesting her help in making Verity choose whether to be with him or stay with her family.
Demelza helped Andrew and Verity send letters to each other. She later found out about Dwight Enys's affair with Karen Daniel, Mark Daniel's wife, and her accidental suffocation by Mark afterwards. She was worried and believed Mark would be executed for killing her. Mark and a friend then showed up at the house and said that he didn't mean to kill Karen and that she started the altercation by cheating on him. Mark said he needed to get away before he hurt someone else, like Dwight. Ross and Demelza agreed to help him, and arranged a boat to take Mark away from Nampara Cove. However, soldiers came to their home looking for Mark, so Ross and Demelza entertained them while Mark hid, and they said they didn't know where Mark may have gone.
Demelza received a note from Verity telling her that she was going to elope with Andrew, to Demelza's joy.
Demelza stayed at home while Ross travelled to Trenwith. Dwight came by to find company, but Demelza knew he needed to go before Mark returned. It was too late, as Mark returned to hide because there were soldiers still searching for him. Demelza had to stop Mark and Dwight from fighting, stating she won't allow them to hurt each other in her home. Mark was worried that Dwight would tell the soldiers where he was hiding, but Demelza pointed out that Dwight could not say anything without getting her into trouble, and since Dwight was her friend, he wouldn't do that. Eventually, Mark left Nampara for good.
Demelza then went to Trenwith to admit that she helped Verity and Andrew elope. Francis was angry with her and told her never to go to Trenwith again. Demelza later told Ross what happened and he was upset with her, because her meddling made Francis so angry he told George Warleggan who they were partners with in their mining expedition. George then persuaded all their partners to give their shares to them, and now the Warleggans had demanded that they pay their loans. Demelza was sorry and begged him to forgive her, saying she only had Verity's best interests at heart, and Ross said he will try to forgive her. She said she won't be happy until Ross forgives her, but Ross said it would take some time.
Loss of Julia
Jinny told Demelza that there was a sickness in town called the putrid throat, and that everyone at Trenwith including the servants had it. Demelza went to Trenwith immediately to help Francis, Elizabeth and their son Geoffrey Charles Poldark. Francis forgave her and was extremely grateful for her help. She saved their lives, but when she came back home to Nampara both she and Julia fell ill. Dwight believed that Demelza and Julia may not make it. Demelza kept slipping in and out of consciousness, but Julia later passed away in Ross's arms.
Demelza kept fighting for survival, but had no idea that Julia had died. In the meantime, Ross buried Julia alone. Dwight and Elizabeth came to help Demelza survive. As she regained consciousness, she saw Elizabeth in the room and asked if she had "come to take Ross away", to which Ross replied, "no one will ever take me away." Demelza eventually pulled through with Elizabeth and Dwight's help. She asked for her daughter, but Ross simply gave her Julia's bracelet. Demelza then realised that she had died and broke down, asking whether Julia was afraid when she died.
Demelza sat on Julia's bed, and was sad she never got to say goodbye. Ross took her for a walk to see the sunset, and they released Julia's bracelet into the wind. She told Ross to make it up with Francis in light of everything, and rebuild Wheal Leisure.
Problems with Ross
A few years later, Francis died and left Elizabeth in debt. To help build a better live for her and Geoffrey Charles, she planned to marry the rich George Warleggan, who loved her very much. Ross rode to Trenwith after hearing this news to try to convince Elizabeth not to marry his enemy. They had an argument and Ross threatened to sleep with Elizabeth without her consent, which he ended up doing. However, neither one regretted it because they both partially loved each other and wanted to sleep together. After this, Ross refused to come to see Elizabeth, leaving her with no choice but to marry George.
After Ross slept with Elizabeth who then gave birth to Valentine Warleggan, biologically Ross's son, Demelza found out and considered leaving him and going back to her father. Ross poured out his heart to her and begged for her forgiveness, telling her that she was his one true love and that Elizabeth would never come between them again. When Ross and Elizabeth kissed as friends in the church, Prudie witnessed it and told Demelza. After years of heartbreak over Ross's connection with Elizabeth, this was the last straw for her and she stormed off.
Meeting Hugh Armitage
Demelza met a man called Lieutenant Hugh Armitage who was immediately attracted to her, and he quickly fell in love with her. He would write her poetry and letters and sketch her. Demelza was uncomfortable with this but she didn't want to hurt Hugh so she said nothing. However, Hugh began to lose his eyesight, and was told by Dwight that he would soon go blind and possibly die. He told Demelza that he wanted to kiss her before he went blind, and she panicked and kissed him. Multiple times he asked her to sleep with him, exaggerating his illness and saying that the one thing he wanted to do before he went blind was sleep with her. Demelza said no at first, but he persisted. She didn't want to hurt Hugh, especially when he had been so nice to her, and after all Ross had betrayed her when he slept with Elizabeth so she eventually said yes.
As Hugh's eyesight worsened, he begged her to sleep with him again, acting as if his illness was worse than it was. At one point he even threatened to kill himself if she didn't sleep with him again. However, Hugh died before Demelza had time to make a decision on what to do.
After Hugh died, Ross and Demelza grew closer as they knew they had both done wrong. Elizabeth's death was the point where their relationship was fully mended, and they stayed happily together.
Behind the scenes
Notes and sources