Table of Contents
- Victorian London
- The Hawking Residence
- Victoria Hawking
- Mary Stone
- Nathaniel Hawking
- Supporting Characters
- Clara Hawking
- Arthur Swann
- Justin Hawking
- Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking
- Season Arcs
- Series 1
- Series 2
- Series 3
Mrs. Hawking is the story of a Victorian housemaid, Mary Stone, who is drawn into a world of adventure when she comes to work for a society widow living a double life. Mary soon discovers that her new employer is the secret champion of the downtrodden of London. Mrs. Victoria Hawking is one part Sherlock Holmes, a deductive genius unraveling crimes concealed by careful manners and genteel culture, blended with the psychological complexity of a brooding, Batman-esque vigilante. Driven by old wounds and rage over society’s injustices, she cloaks her endeavors behind a mask of Victorian respectability. Join Mary as she enters the world of Mrs. Hawking and finds the adventure of a lifetime.
The story is set in 1880s Victorian London, at the height of the Industrial Revolution and British colonial power. England fancies itself the global center of progress and culture. Good manners and gentility are the ultimate currency, where reputation is everything, and the penalties are harsh for those who do not conform. But the grand mansions and ballrooms conceal the darker side of the soot-covered tenements and factory floors. Those without the money, standing, or proper background find themselves with few friends and little control in their lives. With no other recourse, many find themselves driven to seek the unconventional services of Mrs. Hawking.
The Hawking Residence
Mrs. Hawking conducts her business out of her home, a large but not well kept house in an upscale neighborhood in London. While providing her a base of operations, the house itself stands as a symbol of the married life she resented being trapped into. Now that her husband has passed, she has the privacy to do with it what she wants, but has little use for the guest rooms, servant’s quarters, and entertaining spaces she allows to languish untouched.
A petite forty-year-old blonde with an athletic frame and wiry strength hidden beneath widow’s dress, Mrs. Victoria Hawking has only grown more severe and reclusive since the passing of her husband last year. No one guesses that this cold and distant widow is actually a fierce society avenger, armed with a keen deductive mind, years of combat training, and an arsenal of subterfuge and stealth. For nearly two decades she has labored as a self-appointed vigilante, secretly striking back for those trapped into impossible positions by society. However, for all the good she does, too often her motives have less to do with a desire to help others than they do with finding an outlet for her decades of built-up resentment and rage. Her deep distrust of the establishment and years of hiding her pursuits have made it difficult for her to have faith in others, even those who want to be of help.
Although she prefers to work alone, she will find that she can accomplish much more with a team on her side. At first resistant to a housemaid’s presence in her life, Mary Stone comes to provide not only invaluable assistance, but also a positive perspective to challenge her longstanding bitterness. She has more difficulty accepting her nephew Nathaniel Hawking, who in her eyes embodies both her late husband and patriarchal society in general, but in time she comes to see his loyalty and open mindedness make him a genuine asset. Mary and Nathaniel not only help her perform feats she would be unable to manage alone, but also serve as her lifeline back to the world when her anger threatens to consume her.
Mary Stone is a tall, dark-haired twenty-year-old girl, considered too broad and strong by Victorian standards. Most of her life was spent caring for an invalid mother and keeping house for her father at his military station in India. Taught she had nothing else meaningful to give, when her parents suddenly passed she found herself devoid of purpose and traveled to London in search of a new life. But when she accepts employment as a maid for the enigmatic Mrs. Victoria Hawking, Mary soon finds her assumptions about society and her place in it turned upside down.
Although sheltered and inexperienced, Mary is smart, brave, and determined. As Mrs. Hawking’s assistant and pupil, Mary not only finds the purpose she was seeking, but also develops her own confidence and voice, slowly growing from Mrs. Hawking’s assistant into her true protégé. As she learns to challenge the ills of society, she also brings a much needed counterpoint to Mrs. Hawking’s own embittered world view. Though it will lead to friction between them, her belief in the future and in the possibility of change, as well as the support of her fire-forged friendship with Mrs. Hawking’s nephew Nathaniel Hawking, will balance her mentor’s cynical outlook.
Nathaniel Hawking is a good looking twenty-six-year-old with auburn hair who is at first glance everything Mrs. Hawking resents about Victorian men. Full of genuine affability and easy charm, he is a partner at his family’s investment firm, has a beautiful wife and children, and has never questioned his comfortable place in the world. Idolizing his uncle, Colonel Reginald Hawking, it was only natural that when the Colonel passed, Nathaniel took it upon himself to take care of his widowed aunt, without consulting her first. His eyes are opened to Victoria Hawking’s true nature shortly after he hires Mary Stone to be her maid, and the revelation forces him to start questioning the conventions he’d taken for granted.
The more Nathaniel learns about the failings of the society, the more eager he is to do better. His care for his aunt started as familial duty, but with time it evolves into a true admiration for her unique nature and matchless capabilities. In addition, the respect he develops for the virtues and talents of Mary Stone causes him to question the thoughtlessly classist assumptions he’d held all his life. It is not easy to learn to challenge a system that has always privileged you, so it is to Nathaniel’s credit that he works so hard to grow past his upbringing and fight for a more just world.
Mrs. Clara Hawking is the vivacious wife of Nathaniel Hawking and mother to his two children Beatrice and Reginald. A charming, attractive society lady, she is a dynamic personality accustomed to having the power to lead her adoring husband around by the nose. In stark contrast to Mrs. Victoria Hawking, she is comfortable with the conventions of her gender and happy with her place in the world. She may be ladylike in the extreme, but she is nobody’s fool, her sharp tongue, quick eye, and strong opinions making her a force to be reckoned with. However, what she will make of Nathaniel’s involvement in his aunt’s work remains to be seen. Alone in this family, she is not afraid of the other Mrs. Hawking, and will not stand to be dismissed, mistreated, or underestimated.
Arthur Swann, a young up-and-coming police constable walking a London beat, whose chance encounter with Mary Stone during a case will change both their lives. While at first he seems an exposure risk, Arthur becomes an unexpected ally, by giving the team a means to bring the force of the law to bear on their opponents. Moreover, in sharp contrast to Mrs. Hawking’s dim expectations of contemporary men, Arthur is impressed and enchanted by Mary’s capability. As friendship and then romance slowly blossoms between the two, he offers Mary life beyond the constant struggle and danger of Mrs. Hawking’s mission. However, as a young man working for the establishment, he is torn between fully involving himself in her work and compromising his status on the police force. Much as Arthur wants to help, he is often caught between his job and his friends, and pulling too far one way or the other risks breaking his relationship with both.
Hawking men are known for their charm, but none have it quite like Nathaniel Hawking’s older brother Justin Hawking. A partner in the family firm, Justin leads a glamorous life traveling the world as he brokers deals and evaluates possible investment opportunities. His penchant for fast living and pretty women has given him a reputation as a rake, which leads him to clash with Nathaniel’s cultivated gentlemanly bearing. But though he may seem flippant and self-absorbed, he has a quick, critical mind, and little patience for the falseness and hypocrisy of many Victorian values. His raffish lifestyle and ceaseless teasing aggravates the worst of Nathaniel’s insecurities, but although their priorities are often diametrically opposed, the brothers care a great deal for each other. Justin stands to be a source of both struggle and support as Nathaniel’s worldview evolves.
Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking
Although he died a year before our story begins, the figure of Colonel Reginald Hawking looms large over our heroes. While most remember him as the dashing, decorated hero of the Indian Rebellion, and Nathaniel Hawking sees him as a role model, Mrs. Victoria Hawking harbors a deep resentment for her late husband. Their relationship was a complex one, rife with conflicts of admiration and distrust, appreciation and anger, compounded by decades of silence. For twenty years, she hid her activities from him assuming that he would put a stop to her work. However, the truth remains that no one is sure what he would have thought, or what he would have done if she had ever let him in. The tragedy of their marriage is not only Mrs. Hawking’s loss of freedom, but also the Colonel’s unrequited love.
Even a lone wolf crusader may have need of an expert now and again. Mrs. Hawking visits a small legion of people with particular skills, resources, and knowledge to consult their unique expertise on difficult portions of her cases. Some are former clients who owe her for services rendered, some are fellow eccentrics with interests outside societal norms, and some simply have no inkling of the true reason for the inquiries made by this respectable middle-class widow. Regardless, these irregular agents provide a colorful cast of fresh perspectives shedding light on our heroes’ cases.
The story of Mrs. Hawking is suitable for several show formats. It would work well as a one-hour procedural, with structure provided by the case of the week (Elementary, Castle, etc.), or a multi-season dramatic limited series, focused on the personal drama and mystery surrounding the main cast (Jessica Jones, Sherlock, etc.). Either way, the story would explore the development of Mrs. Hawking, Mary, and Nathaniel’s working and personal relationships while providing action, spectacle, and a means to probe topical social and political issues through a historical lens.
Mary’s arrival in Mrs. Hawking’s world drives the formation of the new vigilante team. However, Mrs. Hawking is a harsh taskmaster to her new recruits. Mary feels she can never measure up no matter how she tries, and Nathaniel’s ingrained habits and resemblance to the late Colonel arouses his aunt’s old resentments and distrust. But as the team tracks down society blackmailers, captures a powerful diplomat for a disguised princess, and hunts for the murderer of a Russian ballerina, they learn they can accomplish more when they bring their talents together. Nathaniel discovers a gift for fast talking and information gathering, but the time he’s devoting to his aunt’s work alerts his wife Clara to their secret activities, and he must face the social repercussions of his actions. Mary grows in skill as a fighter, spy, and detective, to the point where Mrs. Hawking decides to designate her as her eventual successor. But as the specter of advancing age creeps upon Mrs. Hawking, her increasing attempts to mold Mary in her image make the young woman question if that’s the person she wants to become. With Nathaniel’s support and with the presence of Arthur, the young policeman in her life, Mary works to find the way to balance the mission that gives her purpose while maintaining her sense of self.
With many completed cases and Mrs. Hawking’s guidance, Mary and Nathaniel have developed real skill, but they have begun to chafe under their mentor’s refusal to acknowledge them as full partners. A figure from Mrs. Hawking’s past emerges as her personal Moriarty and greatest challenge yet, revealing more of her origin as a society avenger. But when this old friend turned new enemy proves to be even more cunning than Mrs. Hawking, it seems like this is one threat the team can’t overcome. Nathaniel has a brush with true danger for the first time, forcing him to reconsider his role. As they are driven to extremes to deal with matters once and for all, Mrs. Hawking grows increasingly unstable. Mary, pushed further and further away by her mentor’s rage, looks to the promise Arthur holds of life outside of Mrs. Hawking’s dangerous world. It takes tangling with Jack the Ripper himself to push Mrs. Hawking over the edge, and finally fracture the team. Mary accepts Arthur’s proposal of marriage, breaks with Mrs. Hawking, and leaves for America to go her own way.
Mary and Arthur return to London after several years abroad, with their own adventures under their belt and a newborn daughter. Working a new case brings Mary face to face with Mrs. Hawking for the first time since her departure. Nathaniel tries desperately to repair the rift between them, but Mrs. Hawking is bitterer than ever, while Mary refuses to bear the brunt of her anger any longer. Working the case together brings up everything they lost, and tempers flare until Mrs. Hawking meets Mary’s daughter, named Victoria in her honor. They begin to hash out their differences, however Mary insists that they can never repair what they had but perhaps they can make something new. At last Mrs. Hawking relents, and the two reunite. This time Mary proposes forming a new, larger team to expand the reach of their work and bring in other skilled individuals. It is a great adjustment for Mrs. Hawking to have Mary as a real partner and work with so many others, but together they find a new way to continue the mission and the relationship that has been the most important of their lives.