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From the Bruce Peel Archives: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Author: Charles Dickens
Collection: Charles Dickens’ Works
Year: 1870
Call Number: PR 4564 A1 1870a

In the mid-19th century, novels were published in monthly parts, which were popular among the middle-class. The monthly parts were typically read and then thrown away, making them rare and quite valuable nowadays.

Charles Dickens was one of the most popular authors of the mid-19th century. Due to his popularity, publishers released Dickens’ parts as they were written, rather than waiting for the complete piece. This publishing model would inevitably undergo complications if Dickens were to die partway through writing a novel, which was the case with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Though it was meant to have 12 instalments, it only contains six, as Dickens died of a stroke before the novel’s completion. Thus, the murder mystery remains unsolved.

“(Dickens) was very innovative in that he was really the first popular writer of novels. And the reason is because of the way (novels were) published. We’re all familiar with (a fictional novel in its published form), whether its hard cover or soft cover, (but) that wasn’t really how fiction originally came out.”
— Linda Quirk, Librarian, Bruce Peel Special Collections & Archives

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