DICKENS, Charles. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. London: Chapman and Hall, April-September 1870.
6 parts, 8o (222 x 140 mm). Engraved portrait of Dickens by J.H. Baker and vignette title-page and 12 engraved plates by Samuel Luke Fildes. Original blue-green pictorial wrappers, uncut (spines and some edges expertly and minimally repaired; cloth slipcase. Provenance: J.R. Edmonds Esq (contemporary signature front wrapper of parts 3 to 6).
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS, the earliest issue of part 6 with the "eighteenpence" slip pasted over the one shilling price on the front wrapper. Advertisements conform to Hatton & Cleaver, including the "Edwin Drood Advertiser" at the beginning of each part, and the "Cork Hat" slip (torn with loss) in part 2, but lacking the Dr. De Jongh insert at end of part one, and the 8-page Chapman and Hall advertisements at the end of part 5. The Mystery of Edwin Drood was Dickens's last novel, left unfinished upon his death in June 1870. Written in a dark and mournful tone, the work "... impelled Chesterton to compare this somber half-told mystery to the performance of a dying magician making a final splendid and staggering appearance before mankind" (Johnson, p.1116). Numerous arguments and theories exist concerning the novel's conclusion, and endless sequels and solutions have been published in an attempt to finish what Dickens had started. Eckel, pp.96-98; Hatton & Cleaver, pp.373-84.
MORFORD, Henry (1823-1881), attributed to. John Jasper's Secret: being a Narrative of Certain Events following and explaining "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." London: Printed by Wyman & Sons for Publishing Offices, October 1871-May 1872.
8 parts, 8o (220 x 140 mm). 20 wood-engraved plates. Original blue printed pictorial wrappers (backstrips minimally repaired, some minor soiling); half morocco folding box. Provenance: Huddersfield (contemporary inscription part 3).
FIRST ENGLISH EDITION IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS of an early unauthorized and anonymous sequel of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. First published in Philadelphia in 1871, the work is attributed to American journalist and author Henry Morford. Morford believed that Dickens had unwittingly supplied hints regarding the unwritten portions of Edwin Drood and threw himself into the laborious task of gathering additional information and visiting locales he thought pertinent to the story. Morford wrote that the authors of this work "... are conveying a benefit as well as a pleasure to the world in setting partially at rest the multitudinous speculations to which the non-explanation of the MYSTERY has given rise... they have carried out, however feebly, what they have fully traced and identified as the intention of the author, every intrinsic and extrinsic fact and hint being carefully considered. Thus they make no apology..." ("Prospectus," part 1). The end result, which met with a certain amount of disapproval, was nonetheless considered a commerical success. This set includes most advertisements called for in Sadleir (except advertisements called for between pp.16-17 in part 1 and pp.144-145 in part 5). Sadleir 705; Yale/Gimbel H330. (14)