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Although there are many snippits of information about Hathaway's early life, most of it is left unknown.
He at least lived near Oxford for most of his childhood on an estate called Crevecoeur Hall, where he became childhood friends with Lady Scarlett Mortmaigne, the daughter of the marquess lord of Crevecoeur Hall (The Dead of Winter).
In the same episode there is an inference that Hathaway lived a rarified but not fully happy childhood. When his father is mentioned ("A policeman! You"re father must be very..proud.") he becomes rather irritable and changes the subject quickly. His father was estate manager of Crevecoeur Hall (not the groundskeeper, as suggested by a later episode in the Morse prequel Endeavour). It is clear that the Lord of Crevecouer Hall, James's father's employer, had systematically sexually abused the children who lived on the estate for many years, while at the same time providing for music lessons, education and training for higher paid work for them. It is not clear whether James was one of the children subjected to the marquess's abuse and special interest (although many clues suggest yes, at least to some degree), or whether the Marquess had anything to do with the fact that James was educated at Harrow, one of England's two best known "public" schools for the education of the children of the elite. We learn much later, in the final season, that James has a sister, and that his father's name is Phillip.
James, like the young Lady Scarlett, regularly played with the other children on the estate. But as the son of the estate's agent (probably a minor relative of an aristocratic family, or perhaps an educated member of the middle class) James would have been awkwardly placed and probably lonely as they approached adolescence--too posh for the servants' children, yet well outside the social league of the daughter of a marquess. Another former child of the estate, Paul, became the butler. While Hathaway calls him Paul, Paul calls Hathaway "Sir" and says it would be "unbecoming of him to presume on a childhood acquaintance. " A member of the Mortmaigne family later tells Hathaway, surprised and embarrassed that it needs to be said, "but you're not one of 'Us'!"
It is possible that James's own father had sufficient means and connection himself to provide for James's education at Harrow. (There is a hint that Hathaway may have 'family money' when we learn that his beloved guitar is worth over £3000.) It's also possible that Hathaway owes some or all of his elite education to the generosity of the sexually predatory marquess, which one would expect to create mixed feelings, to say the least.
There is the suggestion that James was considered a bit aloof and nerdy while at school. In "Old School Ties" we are told by an ex-schoolmate of Hathaway's that he had been Head Boy of his school and nicknamed 'W.C.' - short for 'Wolfgang Christ' - because he "didn't know whether he wanted to be Mozart or Jesus".
In Life born of Fire, Hathaway is revealed to have had a school friend who lived in or near to Oxford, one Will McEwan. When Will came out to Hathaway as homosexual when they were about 14, Hathaway laughed at him, causing damage to their friendship for many years, which never really got resolved.
University and SeminaryEdit
Hathaway went to Cambridge University to study Theology. He is also hinted to have been something of a rowing star while at university - in the Pilot, he is described by a rowing coach as "Atta-way Hathaway", and being on the rowing team for his University in the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race.
After taking his undergraduate degree in Theology, Hathaway entered the seminary and began training to become a priest. In the series pilot, Hathaway tells Lewis he "even spent a year in seminary" but was "chucked out" because he "was considered too frivolous to be a priest." Later episodes, however, hint that Hathaway left of his own volition because he began doubting both the existence of God and whether he was suited to the job. In Life Born of Fire, he ultimately reveals that it was disgust and remorse at having met a gay friend's request for help with a heartless scripture-based condemnation, and the effect that had on his friend's life, that led to his leaving the seminary.
In the last episode of series four, Hathaway informs Lewis that he was talent spotted for MI5 in university. Whether it ever went further than an approach is neither clearly confirmed nor denied by the end.
In the Police ForceEdit
Hathaway is very intelligent, and is often described as a "funny kind of policeman" because he seems so out of place there. The same phrase is frequently used about young Endeavour Morse, in the prequel series Endeavour. Even so, he enjoys his work and becomes dedicated to it.
Like Morse, and occasionally Lewis, Hathaway has a habit for getting emotionally or romantically involved with female witnesses and suspects. He does this most notably with Zoe Kenneth in Life Born of Fire and Scarlett Mortmaigne in The Dead of Winter. Despite generally being both a kind and deliberative person, Hathaway also has a surprising number of unwise or unkind interactions with young witnesses or suspects, which directly or indirectly contribute to their death or injury. Examples include encounters in Intelligent Design, Generation of Vipers, and other episodes.
Despite his intellegence, Hathaway is still young and inexprienced, sometimes behaving in a foolhardy or even very childish manner, such as in Life Born of Fire, when he yells at Lewis in the street "You're not listening to me!"
The He also makes witty remarks to fellow officers, which don't always endear him to them. Many officers at the station consider him to be posh, and snooty, as he was a graduate-entry student, meaning he didn't have to do 2 years as a PC (Police Constable) like the rest of the station.
During Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things' Hathaway stays awake all night at the police station ordering hundreds of photos in time order, judging by the light and who is standing next to who, this both amazes and shocks Lewis and Innocent.
His intelligence often comes in useful when identifying complex messages or references from Oxford scholars - he sometimes does this with smugness, though he insists that it is just "the unfortunate shape of my face."
Similarities to MorseEdit
There are many noticable similarities between Morse and Hathaway, their intellegence being only one.
- Both went to one of the Oxbridge colleges.
- They are commented on as being too intellegent for the Police Force.
- They have a bad taste in women, the woman they are interested in usually turns out to hold some sort of blame for a murder.
- They both enjoy music- Morse enjoyed opera and classical, Hathaway enjoys both classical chamber music and World Music, and plays guitar in a band as well as French horn in a chamber orchestra.
- They both enjoy crossword puzzles and acrostics. In the pilot, Lewis and Hathaway find a crossword partially completed by Morse, accompanied by what Hathaway takes to be an acrostic clue Morse had made up. Hathaway tries unsuccessfully to solve it.
DI Robert "Robbie" LewisEdit
DI Robert "Robbie" Lewis is Hathaway's boss and the two have a better relationship than Lewis had when he was Morse's sergeant. The two first met in the pilot when Robbie arrives home from the Virgin Islands after several years' absence. Even though he and Lewis had their ups and downs, their working relationship was slightly better than Lewis' with Morse.