The Drood Inquiry

Please click play on the video for a virtual tour of The Drood Inquiry.

Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870, leaving his final novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished. Since then, hundreds upon hundreds of successors have offered their theories, in the form of letters to the national press, journal articles, monographs, novels, plays, television series, films, re-enactments of a legal trial…and a musical. In theory Drood should be an open conversation, where anyone can join in with their ideas of what happens next – but the more people have talked about it, the more theories have become enshrined and the harder it has become for a newcomer to make sense of all the backstory .

This is why I created The Drood Inquiry – to offer an introduction to the text and the theories that surround it. The website offers the full surviving text of Drood, as originally published in 1870, along with a comic strip summary, character profiles, and more to quickly and simply present the ideas to date so that anyone can make an informed decision on what happens next. Then – the fun part- you can vote for what you think might happen and see the results.

This year I’ve added a schools resource page to help teachers and children who want to use The Drood Inquiry to learn about Dickens in the 150th anniversary of his death.

You can see all this in the video above, and ask any questions in the comments below. Is there any thing you would like to know about Drood? Or are you interested in presenting Dickens’ works online? Or perhaps you have a Drood theory of your own you would like to share! I’m online and happy to answer your questions.

Published by Pete Orford

I'm course director of the MA in Charles Dickens Studies at the University of Buckingham in conjunction with the Dickens Museum in London. I am currently editing Pictures from Italy for the Oxford Dickens collection, and I'm Chief Investigator for The Drood Inquiry (www.droodinquiry.com). My book "The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Charles Dickens’s unfinished novel and our endless attempts to end it" was published by Pen and Sword Books in 2018.

8 thoughts on “The Drood Inquiry

  1. The last words of fiction Dickens wrote, were on the manuscript page of ‘Drood’ where he writes that Dick Datchery “falls to [his breakfast] with an appetite”. He’s one of Dickens’s many hungry characters! But, is he someone else in disguise? And if so, how important is this?

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    1. Of all the mysteries in this story, Datchery’s identity is probably the most contentious. Dickens left no clues, and not Forster nor any of Dickens’ friends and family made any reference to it in their subsequent revelations. For that reason above all, it’s a vital talking point. Popular suspects for Datchery’s true identity include Bazzard, Helena, Tartar and Edwin himself. I like to think of him as his own character.

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  2. Can I just say that this is such a very cool resource, and the graphics and illustrations are fantastic. So agree that there is something simultaneously tragic and perfect about the fact that ED is unfinished, AND a mystery to boot.

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  3. What’s great about Drood is that even in the short time since I published my book, there have been new ideas and solutions suggested – it really is an endless source of new ideas. What always strikes me is how Drood gives us a first-person experience of what it was like to be a reader in Dickens’s time – that sensation we have now of being halfway through the story and not knowing how it ended would have been felt by readers of ALL Dickens’s novels when they were first published in their original serial instalments. Imagine being a reader of Great Expectations when it first came out, and having chats with your friends about what you think might or might not happen to Pip and Estella – the Line of Duty of its day!

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