Litle is known of the Shade, prior to his apperance in London's East End, in a dazed state in 1838.
The Shade has never revealed the terrible events that made him what he is now. Whatever the incident was, it left him with two gifts: immortality and the ability to shape shadows into whatever form he wishes.
Since gaining these gifts, the Shade traveled the world, adventuring, gaining wealth and loosing whatever morals he ever had as he realized his immortality. Perhaps he thought that morality was best left to mortals..."
Shade made his permanent home in Opal City in the 1890's, where he quickly befrinded local lawman Scalphunter; a friendship that would last beyond the grave.
In the 1940's, the Shade turned his hand to the art of Supervillainy, more for sport than profit. He pit himself against numerous heroes of the day in order to test his own powers. Still, he did wind up facing off against the first Flash most of the time.
Shade remained a known villain, until an alliance with the Mist forced him to choose between the safety of his chosen home or his status as a villain. He chose the former, and led the police to The Mist's hideout.
Since then, The Shade has befriended the Knight and O'Dare families. While still not above underhandness or dark dealings, The Shade uses his powers now more for good than evil.