Next week a special exhibition opens at the Charles Dickens Museum in London all about Drood. I’m very excited about this, not least because I’m co-curating it. ‘A Dickens Whodunnit: Solving the Mystery of Edwin Drood’ is both a chance to celebrate all the discussion of Drood that has occurred so far as well as prompting and inspiring further theories. Visitors will get the chance to investigate the story so far, learn a little more about the writing of Drood, and see some of the extraordinary solutions offered since the death of Dickens.
Working with the Dickens Museum has meant being presented with a wealth of resources best approximated to that end shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark – original letters by Dickens, the writing desk from his chalet at which he wrote Drood – so that the main problem was figuring out which of their treasures to put on display. The Howard Duffield collection of Droodiana could make two exhibitions in itself, and one personal hope I have for this exhibition’s legacy is a greater awareness in the scholarly world of the sort of resources available in the Museum’s holdings for researchers to access. But the Museum staff and I were also very conscious of those visitors who were being introduced to Drood for the first time, and so we were keen to ensure the exhibition did enough to bring people up to speed; Alys Jones’s fantastic illustrative summaries of the six monthly parts will therefore be featuring, along with a specially commissioned seventh panel that will commemorate the present most popular ending for the story. I say ‘present’ because I’m hoping that not only will the exhibition inspire more people to pick up the book, but also to take up the challenge and vote on their choice of ending on The Drood Inquiry. Whatever has been said so far, whatever authors have written, actors have acted and singers have sung, the question of how Drood ends remains an open one – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A Dickens Whodunnit: Solving the Mystery of Edwin Drood opens at the Dickens Museum on Monday 11 May and runs through until mid-November 2015.