Literature: The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
is Charles Dickens
's last novel. As was usual for Dickens, the novel was written and published in serial instalments; Dickens died after completing only six of the projected twelve instalments, leaving the novel incomplete and the mystery unresolved.
The plot revolves around the disappearance (perhaps murder) of Edwin Drood, whose fiancée Rosa Bud is an object of attraction for several other characters, including his uncle, John Jasper, and the proud Neville Landless.
The solution of the mystery is actually known: Drood's uncle, John Jasper, is the murderer. Dickens had told several people whodunnit, and his friend John Forster later published a synopsis of the novel's planned conclusion bringing together various details Dickens had mentioned to him, including Edwin's fate, whodunnit, and the intended fates of other significant characters. This hasn't stopped multiple people writing their own endings, not all of them agreeing with Forster's account.
The novel provides examples of:
Notable continuations and adaptations include:
- The 'James version', published in 1873. Written by an American printer, Thomas James, who claimed he had channelled Dickens's ghost.
- The Trial of John Jasper, a one-off event staged by the Dickens Fellowship in 1914, and featuring several literary luminaries, including G. K. Chesterton as the judge and George Bernard Shaw as the foreman of the jury. Played very much for laughs.
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a 1935 film starring David Manners as Edwin Drood and Claude Rains as John Jasper.
- Drood, a musical adaptation with multiple possible endings, the murderer being determined in each performance by audience vote.
- The D. Case, a parodic novel in which various famous fictional detectives each give their opinion on the case.
References in other fiction:
- The Doctor Who episode "The Unquiet Dead", in which Charles Dickens helps the Doctor thwart an alien invasion, ends with Dickens contemplating changing the ending so that Drood's disappearance was caused by aliens; Rose is worried that they've changed history, but the Doctor isn't worried because he knows Dickens won't live to write the ending anyway.
- Simon R. Green's Secret Histories series features a character named Edwin Drood.
- Drood, a Historical Fantasy by Dan Simmons set at the end of Dickens' life, inevitably features the writing of the novel.
- In The Long Divorce by Edmund Crispin, the protagonist adopts the surname "Datchery" when asked to make a covert investigation.