It's true he didn't sleep much last night. It had come to him, the wrong side of midnight, that More was no doubt asleep himself, not knowing that it was his last night on earth. It is not usual, till the morning, to prepare the condemned man; so, he had thought, any vigil I keep for him, I keep alone.

— Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

What does the bold phrase mean?

  • 1
    A learner might find the syntax confusing. It is a temporal phrase identifying when the idea came to him, that is, after midnight, as StoneyB says. A temporal phrase does not require a preposition. Compare: "... and (on) the day of the big race, he awoke early." On is optional there. Or "Where were you, Mr Jones, the morning of the 25th of May? asked the detective."
    – TimR
    Oct 4, 2015 at 11:15

1 Answer 1


The wrong side of midnight is a mildly jocular phrase for the very early hours of the morning, after midnight. It's the "wrong" side because it's a time when nobody should be doing anything but sleeping.

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