Human Nature (novel)

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Human Nature
Human Nature (Doctor Who).JPG
AuthorPaul Cornell
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Virgin New Adventures
Release number
Seventh Doctor
Bernice Summerfield
PublisherVirgin Books
Publication date
May 1995
Preceded bySanctuary 
Followed byOriginal Sin 

Human Nature is an original novel written by Paul Cornell, from a plot by Cornell and Kate Orman, and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The work began as fan fiction.[1]

The novel was later serialised in e-book form on the BBC Doctor Who website, but was removed from the site in 2010. A prelude to the novel, also penned by Cornell, appeared in Doctor Who Magazine #226, and was also available on the BBC website. It was later adapted for TV.


Bernice Summerfield is grieving since the death of Guy de Carnac (as seen in the previous novel, Sanctuary). The Doctor takes her to a market on a planet called Crex in the Augon system. He quickly sets off, telling her he'll be back in an hour, and Benny finds a pub where she orders a beer and finds a group of female human drinking partners. After Benny's had several drinks with them, the Doctor arrives and places a patch on her cheek — a pad that disperses the alcohol in her system. He tells her that they need to leave immediately, and leads her back to the TARDIS. He hands her a scroll, tells her he'll see her in three months, and collapses.

Meanwhile, the genesmith Laylock meets with his associates. They plan to follow the Doctor. In a long, dark room, a teenager named Tim awakens from a dream, having had a premonition that everyone will die.

Unable to understand Benny's grief on a human level, the Doctor has purchased a device which alters his biodata, transforming him into a human named Dr John Smith. Smith lives as a history teacher at a public school in 1914 England, and falls in love with a fellow teacher named Joan. However, when alien Aubertides, hoping to acquire Time Lord abilities, attack the school, Smith sacrifices himself and becomes the Doctor once more; as the Time Lord, he is unable to love Joan in the way the human John Smith did.


In a poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine to mark the 35th anniversary of Doctor Who (#265, June 1998), Human Nature was voted the readership's favourite novel of the New Adventures series.

Television adaptation[edit]

Cornell adapted his own work for a two-part story in the 2007 TV series of Doctor Who. The first episode is titled "Human Nature" and the second, "The Family of Blood".[2] The names of many of the human characters in the novel are reused for characters in the television story, which is also set in a boys' school shortly before World War I.[3] The Family of Blood have some resemblance to the descriptions of the antagonists in the novel, though they have different names and have possessed humans from the area rather than being shapeshifters.[4] Finally, the roles of the Seventh Doctor and Benny are replaced by the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones respectively.


Doctor Who Magazine published preludes to several New Adventures. The prelude to Human Nature appeared in issue 226. According to Cornell, he wrote his novel's plots with these preludes in mind.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Doctor Who During the Wilderness Years Archived May 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Paul Cornell adapts Who novel for TV". Dreamwatch SciFi. Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  3. ^ Tennant, David (2006-12-25). "Jo Whiley Meets Doctor Who". The Jo Whiley Show (Interview). Interviewed by Jo Whiley. London: BBC Radio 1.
  4. ^ "Series Three Trailers: "The all-new trailer..."". BBC Online. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  5. ^ "Paul Cornell's notes on the DWM prelude".

External links[edit]