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Harry Bishop never wanted or intended to become a criminal. His father was a clergyman, a rural vicar who endured the endless jokes about his surname with the unfailing good humor, and Harry was raised with very conventional, late-nineteenth-century moral values.
Harry was born in 1895. He attended an unremarkable middle-class boarding school, where he displayed only moderate academic ability but quite extraordinary aptitude in one of the school's extra-curricular activities - mountaineering, which was taught as a summer holiday course in Snowdonia. Climbing became became both a hobby and a passion, one that he indulged every chance he got.
He graduated from university with a respectable lower second in Law, and joined a commercial legal practice in the City of London as a trainee clerk. He seemed destined for a relatively prosperous, if undistinguished, career.
Unfortunately for him, several of the senior partners in his law firm were dabbling in various illegal activities, mainly forgery and embezzlement. Even more unfortunately, one of their victims discovered their activities, leaving them scrabbling around desperately for a scapegoat. Harry - a junior employee without a professional reputation, wealth or powerful friends - was an ideal choice.
At first, Harry planned to prove his innocence in court, but when he discovered how skillfully he'd been framed, he realized that that would be impossible. So he fled, using his mountaineering skills to free-climb down a prison wall from three stories up.
At the time, he had no real street smarts and no real knowledge of London's criminal underbelly. He would probably have been recaptured within a week if it hadn't been for a powerful gang leader named Andrew Tucker. The rumor mill was abuzz with the story of Harry's escape, and Tucker was impressed by what he'd heard. Anyone who could do what Harry had done would make a first-rate cat burglar, given a little training.
At first, Harry felt uneasy at the thought of becoming a criminal, but as Tucker pointed out, his only other choice was prison. And over time, he started to relish the excitement and challenges of each heist. Tucker's people trained him well in the finer points of breaking and entering, lockpicking, safe-cracking, and even disguising himself as some inconspicuous nobody that his wealthy targets were likely to overlook - a waiter, a valet, a hotel room attendant, a postman or delivery man. He very quickly became one of the most accomplished thieves in London - or, Tucker boasted with only slight exaggeration, "the whole bloody Empire".
Harry was surprised at the extent of his own grief and regret when Tucker was killed by a Sontaran who'd crashed on Earth and allied himself with a rival crime boss. Nobody could have described the man as a shining example of humanity, but despite everything, Harry had liked him. More practically, Tucker's death left him without a patron and protector. With nothing left for him in London, he was glad to accept Galen's offer to take him beyond the reach of British law
Harry is a conflicted man. He never wanted to be a criminal, and his Church of England upbringing makes him uncomfortable with the (im)morality of his former lifestyle. On the other hand, he can't deny that he loved the dangerous thrill of being a master thief. By joining Galen, he hopes to have the best of both worlds - challenge and adventure without ethical compromises. He has no grand plans or all-encompassing goals, preferring to take the universe as it comes and enjoy one day's experiences at a time.
Harry comes across - quite accurately - as a decent, friendly guy, with a moral core that belies his former profession. He's not short of courage or loyalty, even to unworthy recepients like Tucker. In relaxed moments, he displays a sly and teasing sense of humor and a marked air of joie de vivre.