|“||You know it isn't just tinkering for me. You know I want to create something that will make the world better, that will make things better for the Nephilim.||”|
–Henry, Clockwork Prince
Henry was born to Buford Branwell and an unknown woman in 1856. When he was young, he was often inclined to redesign common household appliances; after an incident with a wringer mangle, his parents encouraged him to focus on mechanical pursuits.
At one point, the young Henry met and fell in love with Charlotte, the daughter of his father's good friend, Granville Fairchild. He harbored these feelings his whole life until, at one point, he finally mustered the courage to ask Charlotte's father for her hand in marriage. While the pair did marry and get along well enough, Henry always assumed that she did not return his feelings and only agreed to the marriage was because she needed to have a husband to be allowed to run an Institute; on the other hand, Charlotte believed that he married her to pay for his family's debt. Despite their obliviousness to each other's feelings, both were content with the way things were and only hoped that the other would eventually love them in due time.
Officially, Henry was named the head of the London Institute, though everyone knew that Henry's involvement in actually running the Institute was minimal. With his own laboratory in the crypt below the Institute, Henry remained more interested and focused on his research and inventions rather than the politics of the Clave.
In 1878, Henry used his skill in mechanics to try and figure out Mortmain's clockwork creatures. He developed a machine that disrupted the internal mechanisms that run the automatons, causing them to wrench apart and explode. When Will and some of the others were injured by the explosion, Henry was wracked with guilt and stayed in his crypt for days.
It was late July that same year when Henry and Charlotte finally talked about how they truly felt for one another. During the dinner celebrating their keeping of the Institute, Charlotte announced that she and Henry were going to have their first son. Henry happily took the news and immediately proclaimed that the child's name will be Buford, after his father, much to Charlotte's dismay and refusal.
At twenty-two years old, Henry was working on developing his hypothetical transportation portal. Magnus Bane was impressed by his inventions and offered to help him. Through Magnus's magic and warlock runes, they were able to make the Portal work in time for their trip to Cadair Idris in Wales.
Once at Cadair Idris, the small group was faced with an army of demonic automatons. When Henry tried to examine one that was motionless by touching the box that contained the demon energies in it, the clockwork creature seemingly activated and severely injured Henry. Henry almost died, though Magnus saved him with magic but, like the Silent Brothers, was unable to bring back the lost sensation to his legs.
Surprisingly, Henry took his paralysis fairly well. He merely met the news with his usual fortitude. Henry was instead driven to design and build himself a wheelchair with self-propelling wheels and other accouterments that would allow him to ascend and descend the stairs to the Institute's basement, particularly to his inventions.
Henry and Charlotte then decided to name their first son Charles Fairchild, receiving Charlotte's surname since she was Consul, and Henry still consistently insisted on giving him the middle name Buford; whether Charlotte obliged or not is still unknown. Seven years later, they had a second son, Matthew.
Matthew grew up looking after Henry's increasingly eccentric and reckless behavior when it comes to his inventions and experiments. He also got along well with, and even mentored, Cecily and Gabriel's son, Christopher Lightwood, a young fellow inventor.
In 1901, Charlotte became pregnant again. This time they were hoping for a daughter and Henry had thought they might name her Matilda, after his Great-Aunt whom he cared for very much. However, they lost the baby during the early stages of pregnancy when Matthew unwittingly poisoned his mother.
A couple years later, London was attacked by a Mandikhor demon. After the first of the attacks, Henry left to join Charlotte in Idris—who had been held up there working on the investigation of Elias Carstairs. While he was away, he allowed Christopher Lightwood the use of his laboratory. Thanks to this, Christopher was able to create an antidote for the demon poison.
Over the following months, Christopher asked for various substances from him on behalf of Lucie. Henry began to grow suspicious as the requests continued.
In December 1903, he attended James and Cordelia's wedding. At the reception, he wished Cordelia happy with such sincerity that it nearly made her cry.
A few weeks later, he and Charlotte confronted Matthew about his growing alcoholism which led into a huge argument. The next day he was in a grumpy mood as Matthew had decided to move out.
He took part in the battle against Leviathan on the London Institute, and impressively fought off the demon's tentacles with a sanjiegun. Charlotte later fetched him to Charles's bedside in the infirmary as he had nearly died that morning after being attacked by the killer that had been plaguing the Shadowhunters of London.
One of Henry's first and most popular inventions include the Sensor, meant to detect demon energies and was in its early stages in 1878. Henry then created the Portal the same year with Magnus' help. Henry went on to write a memoir called A Whoops and a Bang: The Shadowhunter of the Modern Age in 1910.
- Will: "Nothing ever disturbs your circles, does it, Henry?"
- Henry: "What do you mean?"
- Jem: "Archimedes. He was drawing a mathematical diagram in the sand when his city was attacked by Romans. He was so intent on what he was doing that he didn't see the soldier coming up behind him. His last words were 'Do not disturb my circles.' Of course, he was an old man by then."
- Will: "And he was probably never married."
- ―A conversation after Charlotte stormed out of the room, Clockwork Prince
Henry is a cheerful, kind man. He is seldom seen angry and likes to think positive at all times. Being an inventor, Henry is somewhat absentminded and fascinated with all things mechanical, though his inventions tended to malfunction early on in his career. Despite this and the doubts of others around him, Henry did not give up and kept moving forward with his research, eventually living up to his claims.
Henry is a tall, slender man with a shock of untidy ginger hair and warm hazel eyes. He is often depicted wearing waistcoats and trousers splattered with either oil or coal dust.
- Clockwork Angel (first appearance)
- Clockwork Prince
- Clockwork Princess
- Nothing but Shadows (mentioned only)
- Cast Long Shadows
- Every Exquisite Thing (mentioned only)
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- The Evil We Love (alluded to)
- The Shadowhunter's Codex (mentioned only)
- The Last Stand of the New York Institute (mentioned only)
- Born to Endless Night (mentioned only)
- See more here
- Henry and Charlotte were set to have daughters in The Last Hours, but Cassandra Clare changed her mind.
- Henry was the one who introduced Magnus to glitter.
- He may be the namesake of one of his descendants, Jocelyn Fray.
- Henry introduced the red hair gene into the succeeding generations of the Fairchild family.
- Henry has started going by the name "Fairchild" sometime before Cast Long Shadows, something the rest of his family frowns upon.
- Henry is Christopher Lightwood's godfather.
- One of James Herondale's middle names, "Henry", is after him for his role as a father figure in Will's life.
- When Henry had initially taken over the cellar—which later served as his lab—it was dubbed as "the Dungeon".
- Henry tried to soundproof his laboratory; though it is unclear whether this worked or if the residents of the house simply were used to explosions coming from the basement.
- He once received a crate of mundane objects sent to him by another Shadowhunter scientist who had been attempting to integrate them with runic magic. Henry was disinterested though and planned to send them back, however lost the return address and name, and was thankful when Christopher took an interest in them.
- 10th Anniversary Edition of Clockwork Angel
- Cast Long Shadows
- An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld
- Clockwork Angel
- Clockwork Prince
- Clockwork Princess
- Nothing but Shadows
- Days Past: Christopher, a Chain of Gold extra
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- The Mortal Instruments (book series)
- The Shadowhunter's Codex
- "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
- TMI Source's 10 year anniversary chat with Cassandra Clare
- Shadowhunter Army May 2021 newsletter