Who Killed Edwin Drood? WPI Professor Explores the Mystery Within a Mystery in Charles Dickens' Last Novel

Professor Joel Brattin

In the fall of 1870, one of the world’s greatest novelists, Charles Dickens, died suddenly. Left unfinished was his 15th novel, titled The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In six of 12 planned installments of the book, Dickens alluded to a murder and presented a raft of potential perpetrators, but the mystery remained unexplained. Dickens’ plans for the remainder of the book have been the source of speculation and scholarship ever since, says Joel Brattin, professor of literature at WPI and noted Dickens authority.

Brattin recently explored the history of Dickens’ unfinished novel and the mystery of its unwritten ending in an essay composed for the SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston, which is presenting a production of a musical version of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. First presented on Broadway in the 1980s, the musical invites the audience each evening to choose an ending for Dickens’ story.

The former trustee, secretary/treasurer, vice president, and president of the Dickens Society, Brattin has been studying and writing about Dickens' life and fiction for more than 30 years. He also oversees the Robert D. Fellman Dickens Collection in WPI’s George C. Gordon Library, considered one of the finest collections of Dickens’ materials and artifacts in New England.

November 5, 2007

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