Charlotte Fairchild was born to Granville Fairchild and his wife in the 1850s. She was their only child and Granville was always disappointed that he didn't have a son who could run the Institute after him. However, Granville did put all of his efforts into training his daughter to be the best she could be. Part of this training was teaching Charlotte to become a leader, preparing her to take over the Institute. Thus, Charlotte was raised to be dutiful and responsible. Despite the fact that they didn't always agree with each other, they did bond over chess, a game that Granville taught her how to play at age seven.
From a very young age, Charlotte already knew the role she was set to take on in the future. Due to this upbringing, Charlotte grew to be an independent, fiercely responsible woman; kind and gentle at times, but also firm and resolute when needed.
At one point, Charlotte met Henry Branwell, the son of her father's good friend Buford. She admired Henry and eventually fell in love with him; however, she did not believe that he shared her feelings. When she was roughly sixteen, her father told her that Henry had asked for her hand in marriage, implying heavily that he did it to resolve a debt between their fathers. Charlotte agreed to it simply because she thought that he might grow to love her in time.
In 1873, twelve-year-old Will Herondale came to live at the Institute after running away from his family in Wales. Though he turned down her every attempt at kindness with sarcastic and often cruel comments, Charlotte and Henry both worked to help him. When Jem Carstairs came to the Institute, Charlotte was delighted to see that he helped soften Will's cold exterior.
Mystery of the Magister
In 1878, Will and Jem began investigating the Pandemonium Club due to a series of murders that had been taking place. The investigation led them to the Dark House, where Tessa Gray—a warlock unaware of her nature—was being held prisoner by the Dark Sisters. Upon her rescue, which was orchestrated by Will, Henry and Thomas, Charlotte consoled Tessa and asked her to stay with them, not only to recuperate for the time being, but also to help in their investigation of the Pandemonium Club; in exchange, she promised that they would help her find her brother, Nate, and discover her identity.
When Henry's study of the corpses found in the Dark House showed that the Dark Sisters used gears supplied by Mortmain and Company, Charlotte and Henry went to question its owner, the mundane Axel Mortmain, to question him about his dealings with Downworlders, the Club, and his employment of Tessa's brother, Nate. Mortmain at first refused to cooperate fully, in apparent fear of the Magister's wrath. To get him to talk, Charlotte tricked him with Henry's prototype Sensor, telling him that it was a Summoner that would call on a force of the London, who would have him tortured. Frightened by this, Mortmain informed them that the head of the club, the man known as the Magister, was Alexei de Quincey. Charlotte immediately became concerned, as de Quincey was a very influential figure among Downworlders, the leader of a powerful London vampire clan, and a supposed ally of the Enclave.
To further investigate, the Enclave decided to infiltrate one of de Quincey's "parties" (which involved kidnapping mundanes and feeding on them for entertainment), revealed to them by Camille Belcourt, an informant of the Shadowhunters and another member of the London vampire clan. It was agreed upon that Tessa would attend the party disguised as Camille, with the promise that Nate would be rescued if he was there. Charlotte was among the Shadowhunters lying in wait for Will's signal and later broke into the party after the signal, which was created using Henry's defective Phosphor (the Phosphor did not work as intended and instead set the inside of the mansion on fire). Charlotte and the others battled and killed as many vampires as they could because they have been proven to be breaking and openly defying the Accords.
Mortmain later told them that de Quincey was hiding in one of his London townhouses with hundreds of vampires, preparing to unleash his demonic clockwork army that evening. Charlotte and the rest of the adult Enclave members rushed off to follow Mortmain's advice to deal with de Quincey, leaving the underage Shadowhunters, Tessa, and the other servants in the Institute.
They ambushed de Quincey in his London townhouse but were surprised to find him in hiding with only a few vampires. De Quincey laughed at them when they questioned him about being the Magister shortly before he was killed, and Charlotte realized that they had been tricked by Mortmain. Worried for those left at the Institute, they rushed right back.
Looking for Mortmain
Charlotte attended her hearing before the Enclave, where she was questioned under the Mortal Sword, about her failure to deal with the Magister. Consul Wayland decreed that all those living in the London Institute must undergo training to protect themselves from hostile forces. He also gave Charlotte two weeks to find or at least have sufficient leads on Mortmain's whereabouts. If she did not fulfill these requirements, she would be replaced by Benedict Lightwood as head of the London Institute.
Wayland and Charlotte conversed after the meeting ended, him telling her that finding Mortmain was her job anyway and now it would simply be examined within two weeks. Charlotte kicked a wall in her anger when she heard that, because she didn't believe that she could find him on such a tight time limit, though she and Henry resolved to try.
The residents of the London Institute, spearheaded by Charlotte, researched dozens of files and papers about Mortmain to see what they could find out about him. This led to nothing, so Charlotte spoke with the Silent Brothers to see if they had anything in their archives. As luck would have it, they did have records of a complaint filed by Mortmain through Reparations, with the full details being kept at the York Institute. Charlotte wrote to the head of the Institute, Aloysius Starkweather, to ask for the files. On the grounds that he hated all Fairchilds, Charlotte's family, he refused to send the papers. Therefore Charlotte agreed to let Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs, and Tessa Gray go to Yorkshire to retrieve the files.
In Yorkshire, Aloysius Starkweather told Will, Jem and Tessa about Ravenscar manor, Mortmain and his family's old address. There, the trio saw Will's sister Cecily entering the house and also encountered a clockwork creature bearing a warning for Will. This led the residents of the London Institute to believe that Mortmain had tricked the Herondale family into living in his house.
Concerned both about these events and Will, Charlotte contacted the warlock Ragnor Fell to watch over the Herondale family, a job that she had previously hired him to do. Fell sent word to her later in the week that Mortmain was using the Herondales to prevent tracking and to give him control over Will if he ever needed it. This worried Charlotte as she knew that Will did deeply love his family, despite his harshness towards them, and that he might do something rash to protect them.
Later, when Will told her that werewolves were buying yin fen on Mortmain's orders, Charlotte arranged a meeting with the head of the London werewolf pack, Woolsey Scott. Charlotte was upset that Henry didn't realize that she wanted him to accompany her to the meeting, but she put her feelings aside to get her job done. Scott agreed to help Charlotte but informed her that he knew nothing of Mortmain's plans.
When Jessamine was proven to be a spy, Charlotte was shocked and horrified. She oversaw Jessamine's trial with the Mortal Sword and harshly questioned her for information about Mortmain's plans. When everything ended, Charlotte broke down and burst into tears because she nonetheless still saw Jessamine as family.
The residents of the London Institute needed to find Nate Gray so they needed to contact him. However, Jessamine would never talk to Charlotte, so she deigned to let Tessa and Jem speak to her. Then, with the information that Jessamine gave them, Charlotte oversaw a plan to capture Nate.
When the plan came to fruition, Charlotte went searching through the warehouse with the rest of the Shadowhunters. She vomited at the sight of a dead werewolf, and ran out of the room. She was knocked unconscious by an old automaton on the orders of Nathaniel Gray, and was helpless for the rest of the battle. She wasn't conscious to see her husband Henry charge down the clockwork monster attacking her to push it away.
When everything had ended, Charlotte felt that there was nothing she could do to keep her position as head of the Institute so she decided to keep her pride and resign. Henry interrupted her writing her resignation letter for the both of them and told her that she couldn't resign. They said that they loved one another and for the first time Charlotte knew that her husband did love her.
At that point Will came in and said that Charlotte could not resign as head of the Institute, saying that he was grateful for all that she had done for him and as repayment he wasn't going to let her make that mistake. Charlotte was flabbergasted by his behavior and contemplated it being a fake Will.
When Sophie revealed to Charlotte and the others that Benedict had demon pox, Will came up with the idea of blackmailing him. Charlotte went for it and immediately set off to meet with Benedict. While there, a heated argument ensued during which Gideon Lightwood sided with Charlotte and left with them, revealing that she had given him a note explaining what they had learned about his father, and he chose to believe it.
The Council meeting came and Benedict gave Charlotte his full support, weaving a tale of them discovering who Mortmain was and how that was a good thing. The Council voted to let Charlotte keep the Institute and she went with the others to celebrate.
While celebrating, Charlotte announced that she and Henry were expecting their first child, a boy. Henry was overjoyed with the news and waltzed her around the room before becoming overprotective and worrying for the baby. He and Charlotte argued over him wanting to name the baby Buford, after his father, but she hated it. The book ended with them greeting Cecily Herondale when she came to the Institute to be trained as a Shadowhunter.
Battle with Automatons
Charlotte was noticeably pregnant and excited over the wedding of Jem and Tessa. She was helping Tessa try on her wedding dress. When Gabriel Lightwood came to the Institute saying that his father, Benedict was turning into a demon due to demon pox, Charlotte immediately asked if he was injured because she saw all the blood on him.
It was revealed in letters that the Council was considering making Charlotte the new Consul because Josiah Wayland's term is ending. However the Consul did not approve of their decision as he realized that Charlotte was not a weak woman who could easily be controlled. He blackmailed Gabriel and Gideon Lightwood into spying on her correspondence to try and reveal a way to get her dismissed from her post.
After Will Herondale travelled to Wales to rescue Tessa, Charlotte realized that they would not catch up with him and so they must try and find a cure for the dying Jem. She ordered all of them to search the library for possible cures and orders Magnus Bane to help them too, as she blamed him for letting Will run after Tessa. Charlotte visited Jem and he asked her to stop looking for a cure, and to call the Silent Brothers instead. She did what he wanted and asked the members of the Institute to say goodbye to Jem, however Gabriel and Cecily couldn't face it.
Charlotte broadcasted a message to all Shadowhunters asking for their assistance in helping them rescue Tessa and Will, contrary to the orders of Consul Wayland. However, no other Shadowhunters arrived to assist them, apart from three Silent Brothers who revealed that Consul Wayland called a Clave meeting that was compulsory to attend. The Shadowhunters used a Portal that Henry invented with the help of Magnus' magic and runes.
Henry fiddled with an automaton which made it come alive, it grabbed Henry and broke his spine. Charlotte went hysterical and defended Henry's body from the attacking automatons. Sophie tried to make Charlotte get up and leave Henry but she saw that he had a faint pulse.
After the battle, Inquisitor Whitelaw informed Charlotte that she was the top choice of the Clave to serve as the next Consul, after Wayland's death. Though initially skeptical, she eventually accepted the position on three conditions: that she be allowed to stay in London, at least for the first few years; that Will replace her as the head of the Institute; and that Jem, as Brother Zachariah, be allowed an hour to return to the Institute to bid Will and Tessa farewell.
Consul and family
Eventually, Charlotte and her family moved to Idris so that Charlotte could accomplish her duties as the Consul. There, she ended the tradition of Consuls speaking to the populace from the balcony of the Gard, deeming that it too similar to the behavior of a pope or king.
Charlotte and Henry agreed to let Charlotte and their children take the Fairchild name, to honor her position as the Consul. They named their first child Charles Buford, and seven years after he was born, they had a second son, Matthew.
At the turn of the century, Matthew decided to become parabatai with Will's son, James Herondale. To accommodate their bond, Charlotte and Henry decided to move and constantly Portal between their homes in Idris and London. Over a decade after Matthew, she and Henry decided that they were ready for another child. This time, they hoped to have a daughter. Charlotte became pregnant with their third child in 1901, only to lose it after she was unwittingly poisoned by a faerie concoction that Matthew gave her, not knowing its true effect.
In 1903, Charlotte put together a team of Shadowhunters and a couple werewolves to take care of a nest of Kravyād demons. This expedition included Elias Carstairs due to his expertise in rare demons. The mission went wrong and ended with a group of vampires believing themselves under attack and a breach of the Accords. After an investigation, Elias was held responsible and thus arrested. Following not being able to interrogate Elias with the Mortal Sword because he didn't remember anything, Charlotte found herself stuck in Alicante working on how to proceed.
After the Mandikhor attacks in London, Charlotte planned to returned to the London Institute for a meeting to discuss the events. She was delayed to the meeting because she had to scour through the remains of a fire at Blackthorn manor and found a number of alarming dark magic items. At the Institute she ended up arresting Tatiana Blackthorn for the possession of said items and her attempts at practicing necromantic magic. They then decided to be lenient on Tatiana and sentenced her to the Adamant Citadel. Charlotte also later released Elias as well, deciding that it would not be well received to punish him given Cordelia Carstairs's current praises as a hero and him having a child on the way.
In December 1903, she attended James and Cordelia's wedding, where as the Consul, she conducted the ceremony. She talked about the pride she felt to be able to marry James and Cordelia—two families close to her heart—as she had married James's parents before; as well as the burden of being a Shadowhunter and the gift of great love given to them to combat this responsibility.
A few weeks later, she and Henry confronted Matthew about his growing alcoholism. This turned into a massive argument which led to Matthew moving out the next day. Meanwhile Charlotte was summoned to the Institute to look into Filomena di Angelo's death.
When Thomas was arrested under suspicion of being the serial killer behind the attacks in London, she was immediately called for by Gideon and Inquisitor Bridgestock. They headed straight to the Sanctuary where Thomas was being held and listened to Thomas's perspective about the death of Lilian Highsmith. She was alarmed when the Inquisitor nearly became violently aggressive but managed to calm him down. When Alastair Carstairs stepped forward, claiming to have seen the entire incident and backed up Thomas's story, she declared that both boys would stay in the Sanctuary with proper arrangements overnight until the Mortal Sword—which was with Will in Paris—could be used to prove the truth of the situation.
The next day, she held an official trial for both Thomas and Alastair, where they were questioned by Will. The Inquisitor was not satisfied with the result of the testimony and claimed they were still suspicious and more needed to be done even though Thomas had proved his innocence. Charlotte tried to reason with him but before they could finish the conversation, Leviathan attacked the Institute. Charlotte presumably took part in the battle, after which her children appeared in the courtyard through a Portal, Charles heavily leaning against Matthew. Charlotte rushed to them and learned that Charles had been attacked by the real killer and had nearly died. Her worry brought over Gideon who helped Matthew bring Charles into the infirmary while Charlotte left to fetch Henry. Wanting to stay by her son, she sent a message through Brother Zachariah that Will would be taking charge of the investigation regarding the recent murders and the attack on the Institute by Leviathan.
In 1937, an elderly Charlotte and her then grown-up children were present on the day of Will's death.
Charlotte is a kind and loving person who is generally easy to adore, often seen as a motherly and trusting individual. It is because of these traits that Charlotte effortlessly gains and earns faith and loyalty.
Because of her small physique, Charlotte is often underestimated and thought to be weak or easily manipulated. However, despite her size, Charlotte is actually a powerful authority figure, very capable of leading and impressing her power over others. She is highly responsible, able to run the entire Institute with an iron fist, even though she was just out of her teenage years.
Charlotte is a very small woman almost childlike, with thick, dark brown hair, a neat clever face, and bright dark brown eyes like a bird. Charlotte also did not actually need to wear a corset because of her already slim, practically skinny, small frame.
- Electrum whip: Charlotte is known to fight with an electrum-laced whip.
- Other basic Shadowhunter gear, including: steles, seraph blades, and witchlight.
- Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale
- Clockwork Angel (first appearance)
- Clockwork Prince
- Clockwork Princess
- Nothing but Shadows (mentioned only)
- Cast Long Shadows
- Every Exquisite Thing (mentioned only)
- The Midnight Heir (mentioned only)
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- The Last Stand of the New York Institute (mentioned only)
- City of Heavenly Fire (mentioned only)
- Through Blood, Through Fire (mentioned only)
- See more here
- Contrary to official artwork of her, Charlotte's Voyance rune is on her left hand; making her left-handed.
- Charlotte is particularly good at drawing Iratzes.
- Charlotte is an ancestor of Jocelyn and Clary Fairchild.
- Charlotte was the first woman ever elected as Consul and served for three terms.
- She is the godmother of Cecily Herondale's first born child, Anna Lightwood.
- 10th Anniversary Edition of Clockwork Angel
- Cast Long Shadows
- Clockwork Prince
- An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld
- Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale
- Clockwork Princess
- Clockwork Angel
- Nothing but Shadows
- City of Heavenly Fire
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- "Was this perhaps the inspiration you had for your character's name?" "... yes, it was." Cassie on Tumblr
- "They also have very young daughters." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- "As of TLh he doesn't." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "At least after the beginning of the first book." Cassandra Clare on Twitter