| Helen Stoner |
|Family|| Grimesby Roylott (stepfather, deceased)|
Mrs. Stoner (mother, deceased)
Julia Stoner (sister, deceased)
|Behind the scenes|
|Appearances||"The Adventure of the Speckled Band"|
When Helen and her twin sister, Julia, were only two-years-old, their wealthy widowed mother married Dr. Grimesby Roylott, a professional and successful doctor who lived in Calcutta. It seemed that he had been a decent husband and stepfather, for Helen did not mention him being abusive in any way towards her or her family in her later accounting to Holmes.
However, Helen noted that his anger could lead him to be excessively irrational and violent - he once beat his native butler to death, for which he narrowly escaped a capital sentence, though he was still imprisoned for a long time.
When he was finally released from prison, Dr. Roylott took his family to live in England, where he attempted to establish a new practice in London. However, when Helen was only twenty-four-years-old, her mother was killed in a railway accident. Shortly after this, Dr. Roylott took Helen and Julia to live with him in his old ancestral home at Stoke Moran. Despite being diminished due to fall in agricultural prices, the fortune that Helen's mother had left for her surviving family was still sufficient for all their wants, and in her will, she stated that the entire sum was Dr. Roylott's to manage as he saw fit as long as Helen and Julia lived with him. However, there was also a provision: each sister would receive a certain annual sum respectively from this fortune in the event of their marriages.
It was at this time that things took a turn for the worse for Helen and Julia: their stepfather became a changed man - he shut himself in his house, and on those rare occasions that he came out, it was solely to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Helen attributed this to her stepfather having inherited a violent temper from his family, and there was an incident where she narrowly kept him from public exposure by paying all the money she could gather together to the severely wronged party.
Because of Dr. Roylott's uncontrollable anger and immense strength, the family was unable to employ any servants, and hence all the housework was left to Helen and Julia, which in turn led to their premature aging as well as their lack of any great pleasures in life. They were, however, allowed to pay occasional visits to their maternal aunt, Honoria Westphail, who lived near Harrow, London. When Julia was thirty-years-old, she became engaged to a half-pay major of marines, whom she had met at her aunt's house during a Christmas visit.
Though Dr. Roylott offered no objection to the marriage, Julia tragically died a fortnight before the wedding day. Due to the lack of any signs of violence or marks of poison on her sister's corpse, Helen was led to believe that Julia had died of pure fear and nervous shock, but she could not imagine as to what was it that had frightened Julia to death. Besides this, Helen also never forgot Julia's dying words to her: "Oh, my God! Helen! It was the band! The speckled band!"
Consulting Sherlock Holmes
For two years after Julia's death, Helen led a life that was lonelier than she had ever known. Fortunately, she came to receive a marriage proposal from Percy Armitage, who was a dear friend she had known for many years. Dr. Roylott also offered no objection to the match, and they planned to be married in the course of the spring.
However, Helen eventually found herself having to move into Julia's bedroom due to some repairs in the house (which caused the wall of her original bedroom to be pierced). One night, as she laid awake in bed thinking about her sister's tragic death, she was terrified to hear a low whistle, for she recalled that it had actually been the herald of her sister's death. She sprang up and lit the lamp, but saw nothing in the room. Being too shaken to go to bed again, she got dressed, and as soon as it was daylight she went to consult Holmes for help.
Helen was described as having the features and figure of a thirty-year-old woman, but her hair was shot with premature grey. During her first meeting with Holmes and Dr. Watson, the latter two noted that her face was all drawn and grey, with a weary, haggard expression, and she had restless, frightened eyes like those of a haunted animal.