Call for Papers: “The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Solutions and Resolutions”

The Drood Inquiry, in partnership with the Victorian Popular Fiction Association, is happy to announce its forthcoming conference on 20 September 2014 at Senate House, London, and we warmly invite you to come along and have your say!

             Helena Edwin Drood logo RosaJasper

Charles Dickens’s last novel, unfinished as it is, has become a call to arms to a legion of fans, academics and authors to solve the mystery and complete the uncompleted. In the early years after Dickens’s death, passionate discussions of Drood formed the vast bulk of criticism of his works, while later scholars have looked back upon this formative period with a mixture of bemusement and embarrassment. In 2014 The Drood Inquiry will investigate and celebrate the many weird and wonderful responses to Dickens’s story, exploring the ways in which these solutions reflect upon the authors’ attitudes to Dickens and his legacy, and how Dickens’s story and characters exist both within the boundaries of the original text and without in the numerous spin-offs that have arisen.

This one-day conference commemorating the launch of The Drood Inquiry will play upon some of those themes as well as allowing the opportunity to consider Edwin Drood afresh, not purely as a puzzle to be solved but as a work of literature to be analysed and celebrated in its own right. We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers which will explore the themes of the book or the insights its subsequent treatment can provide on Dickens’s reputation, as well of course as any discussion of theories on how the story ends!

Topics could include, but are not restricted to:

  • Characters, themes and topography of Edwin Drood
  • The legacy and afterlife of Dickens and Drood
  • Dickens in 1870
  • Incomplete stories of the nineteenth century
  • Victorian fan-fiction and neo-Victorianism
  • Early detective fiction and the mystery genre
  • Clues and red herrings
  • Adaptations of Drood for stage and screen
  • Dickens and the fanatics
  • Ownership and authorship
  • The role of the ending in plot and structure

Proposals (up to 500 words) and a brief biographical note should be sent by 31 May 2014 to For further details and updates you can follow us on Twitter @Drood_Inquiry or visit

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 ( 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.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi:
    I’m so sorry I missed the September conference — sounds absolutely fascinating. My own solution to the Drood mystery offers a few ideas that do not seem to have been raised so far in the extensive literature on the story. The main innovations concern: (i) the location of the ruby-and-diamond ring on the fateful Christmas Eve (not in Edwin’s breast pocket); and (ii) the origin of Jasper’s obsession with Rosa and his opium addiction (linked to an event recounted early in the story). I’ve set the full solution in a novel entitled ‘The Last Chapter. If you are interested you can obtain the novel as ebook or paperback on the website. Click on Books and then search by author name (Lyn Squire) or book title (The last Chapter). Otherwise, visit any Amazon-serviced bookstore.i

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