Shelley Layton is the daughter of chemists Dahlia and Anthony Layton and was born in London in 1900. Her little brother Matthew was born two years later. After witnessing the suicide of her best friend due to her unhappiness of being forced by her family into an arranged marriage, Shelley’s family believes that it would be best for the family to go on a trip outside of the country. In 1912, the Laytons boarded a passenger ship in Liverpool, England that was on its maiden voyage to New York City. After heading to bed on the fifth night of their voyage, Shelley awoke to the muffled crying of her younger brother and her parents lying motionless on the floor, in ankle-deep water that was slowly sloshing in through the open door. Shelley grabbed her brother by the arm and the two children made it outside of the living quarters and onto the main deck. Here, the two were separated by the hectic mob of people attempting to secure spots on the few remaining lifeboats. In the turmoil, Shelley’s head was knocked against a metal rail and she later regained consciousness at a hospital in New York City, with people suspecting that Matthew was one among many casualties of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
Fast-forward 16 years:
Ms. Layton lives in an apartment provided by the university she works for in 20th century London. While she believes the world to be a dark and brutal place, she also believes that educating future generations about the darkness and rules of the world is the correct thing for her to do. While teaching university students is her primary occupation, Shelley puts most of her effort into her preferred profession as a private detective. While solving crimes that the police have dismissed or cannot solve using conventional means, she continually works toward solving the murder of her parents and discovering the fate of her brother.
Ms. Layton enjoys the dessert eton mess, a mixture of pieces of meringue, strawberries, and cream. To help her relax and think, Shelley brews many different blends of bitter herbal teas. She relates to the macabre writing of Edgar Allan Poe and his tragic life. She keeps a silver pocket watch on her person at all times, which is engraved with her family member’s initials. This trinket was given to her during her final trip with her family. Shelley keeps her brunette hair in a short bob because she believes it would get in her way otherwise and styling it would be a hassle. She puts on a happy face for her few acquaintances but makes biting remarks and retains a cold cynicism under her joyful mask.