Handsome and lithe like her brother Neville, Helena is said to be “almost of the gypsy type” and shares her brother’s untamed spirit, with “a slumbering gleam of fire in her intense dark eyes”, though by all accounts Helena is the brains of the pair. Born and raised in Ceylon by a cruel stepfather, she and her brother often tried to escape, with Helena disguising herself as a boy, but to no avail, and Neville remembers with pride how his sister would never cry when she was beaten. After the stepfather’s death, they have been transferred to the protection of Mr Honeythunder who in turn has brought them to Cloisterham where Helena is improve her education at Miss Twinkleton’s establishment.
“Half shy, half defiant”, Helena quickly attached herself to her fellow pupil Rosa Bud, protecting her at Crisparkle’s house when she breaks off singing with John Jasper and showering a surprisingly tender affection upon Rosa. It was Helena who suspected Jasper to be in love with Rosa very early on, and Helena again who shows no fear of the mysterious choirmaster. It is also Helena who was called upon by Septimus Crisparkle to moderate the violent temper of her brother and encourage reconciliation with Edwin Drood, for which intervention Helena offered her deepest gratitude to the Reverend. On the morning of the reconciliation Helena again offers her support to her brother and remorse for the loneliness he feels in unrequited love for Rosa Bud, but she has yet to come forward to express her views in the aftermath of the Drood mystery, nor her response to Edwin’s admiration of her personally - her primary concern has been the protection of her brother from the oppressive watch of Jasper, and it is not clear how far this fiery woman will go in pursuit of this aim.