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Atticus is a former sailor and gang leader working for James Delaney. Atticus is a major character in Taboo, and is portrayed by Stephen Graham.

Official Description[]

" Atticus is a former professional sailor and current professional criminal and miscreant. A well-known and feared local face and unofficial leader of a gang of dockworkers operating out of the Dolphin Inn." [1]

Character Overview[]

Atticus is a bizarre former sailor, with an odd sense of humour but loyal to those with whom he forms alliances of different kinds. Atticus is a stout man, with a ruddy face hardened by street life. Atticus has several tattoos on his arms, hands and chest, but the most characteristic is the one on his head: a large compass rose that covers his entire scalp, along with a smaller one on the forehead.



Atticus worked as a sailor for the Delaney Trading Company under the late Horace Delaney, a reason why he refused to kill him when a man from the rich side of the city tried to hire him as a hitman. At some point, Atticus started using the Dolphin Inn, a tavern near the docks, for his illegal activities.

The Mariner meets the Devil

Atticus meeting with James

Atticus stole James Delaney's horse to attract the young veteran in an empty tavern, known as Dolphin Inn, where he informed Delaney about a gentleman who had offered him money to murder Horace Delaney. Since Atticus did not commit the crime, he asked fifteen pounds to James Delaney. They bargained. A few days later, Atticus was in the crowd during the testamentary reading, recognizing Thorne Geary as the gentleman who showed up at Dolphin Inn with a request to kill Horace Delaney. [2]

Atticus and French Bill ready to rob the East India Company's warehouses

Atticus arranged to procure wares to James via port traffic of dubious legality, renewing the offer of his help and that of his henchmen. [3] Days later, Atticus was involved in the robbery organized by James Delaney, having developed a plan at Dolphin Inn together. Aided by his partner French Bill, Atticus robbed East India Company's warehouses while James looked after of alliance with 'Carlsbad.' Delaney and the Atticus gang stole ingredients to make gunpowder from the strong for the Americans, who blackmailed Delaney by forgiving him about Nootka, without his knowing it was to assassinate the King.[4]

Atticus disposing of a soldier's corpse

At the Dolphin Inn, Atticus was present when James Delany punished a traitor ripping his thumb with his bare hands, and then took charge of leaving the corpse of a soldier on the beach, instructing Winter to spread the word that the corpse was left there as a warning to the enemies of James Delaney. [5]

Hereafter, Atticus took part in the delivery of gunpowder hidden in a hearse to the Americans represented by Dr Dumbarton, congratulating the young Robert when he deceived the soldiers posing as a corpse inside one of the coffins when soldiers expressed their intention to control the cargo. [6]

Several days later, Atticus took part along with some prostitutes and other members of his gang at the funeral of Winter held on the foreshore. He subsequently accompanied Helga on a small boat to toss Winter's corpse in the bottom of the river so that it was transported to the ocean. After, Atticus was deprived of the attention of a Chinese prostitute by James Delaney, who had some work for him. At the asylum, Atticus was commissioned to carry the gunpowder in the wing of the asylum where Delaney's mother, Anna Delaney had been segregated years before and was also briefed by James about Helga's intentions of betraying them. [7]

Atticus discovering their true destination

After following James' instructions by rescuing Helga and Pearl from the East India Company and killing Edmund Pettifer in doing so, Atticus oversaw preparations for the final battle at the docks, making sure to get everything ready to set sail. actively participating in the fight against King's guards, Atticus was furious when he witnessed the death of his sister Brighton, killing as many soldiers as possible in his flight. After helping James to rescue George Cholmondeley, severely wounded by an explosion, and setting sail towards the open sea, Atticus was briefed by James about their real destination, namely Ponta Delgada in the Azores, Portugal, instead of the Americas, until the rivalry between Delaney and America softens. [8]

Memorable Quotes[]

"As you may recall, I'm going to write a book one day about all I know about the world."
― Atticus to James



Season 1


  • In an interview released on Make-Up Artist magazine, Taboo's make-up and prosthetics designer Erika Okvist described Atticus’ (Stephen Graham’s) compass head tattoo as follows: [10]

    "With every character, you begin with something that identifies them against the other characters, so for Stephen’s character we established that he was a sailor, a traveler and this would be something reflected in his design. We would brainstorm, research and think about sailor tattoos of the time and their symbolism but most importantly where that tattoo would make the most impact visually, so we decided that placing the tattoo on the head would be very striking to the audience. The design itself was based on the idea of hand-drawn tattoos, which the sailors would have done on one another. I would paint out the design and this would then be made in-house by my team on transfer paper. We would have a book full of character tattoos ready to go when called upon. Tattoo making and application was a huge part of our working day."


  1. BBC One - Taboo Cast & Characters
  2. Knight, Steven (writer) & Nyholm, Kristoffer (director); January 14, 2017, BBC; January 17, 2017, FX; "Episode 2". Taboo.
  3. Knight, Steven (writer) & Nyholm, Kristoffer (director); January 21, 2017 BBC; January 24, 2017, FX; "Episode 3". Taboo.
  4. Knight, Steven & Ballou, Emily (writer) & Nyholm, Kristoffer (director); January 28, 2017 BBC; January 31, 2017, FX; "Episode 4". Taboo.
  5. Knight, Steven & Hervey, Ben (writer) & Engström, Anders (director); February 4, 2017 BBC; February 7, 2017, FX; "Episode 5". Taboo.
  6. Hardy, Chips & Knight, Steven (writer) & Engström, Anders (director); February 11, 2017 BBC; February 14, 2017, FX; "Episode 6". Taboo.
  7. Knight, Steven (writer) & Engström, Anders (director); February 18, 2017 BBC; February 21, 2017, FX; "Episode 7". Taboo.
  8. Knight, Steven (writer) & Engström, Anders (director); February 25, 2017 BBC; February 28, 2017, FX; "Episode 8". Taboo.
  9. James and Atticus in the Dolphin - Taboo: Episode 2 Preview - BBC One
  10. Taboo Make-up Revelations, Make-Up Artist Magazine, July 26, 2017