Original Wraps. London: Chapman & Hall, 1870. April, 1870 - September, 1870. First Edition. Good.
First edition in the original six monthly parts. Original publishers blue-green pictorial wrappers with illustrations by C.A. Collins, with thirteen of the fourteen plates, including engraved portrait of Dickens and vignette title, by Samuel Luke Fildes. Part 6 in earliest state with "Price Eighteenpence" pasted over the printed "Price One Shilling" (later states are printed with the corrected price); Part 5, "Jasper's Sacrifices" plate hand-colored, spine separated at page 129, with only the first of three advertisements at rear; Part 4 complete with "Edwin Drood Advertiser" to front and all three ads to rear; Part 3 with all five advertisements at rear and thus quite rare; Part 2 with the scarce Gaimes, Sanders & Nicol ad on cork, as well as the other back advertisement and the rear wrapper; Part 1 complete with "Edwin Drood Advertiser" insert at front. A good set with significant wear, soiling and some loss, but a completely unrestored example of Dickens' last published work free of the usual repairs. Housed in a custom box with a folding chemise. Hatton & Cleaver pp. 373-384. Originally published serially in the six monthly installments, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was also published in book form on August 31, 1870. Both the later serial installments and the first book form edition were published posthumously after Dickens' death in June 1870, leaving the novel unfinished. The story is named after the titular character Edwin Drood, although the text largely focuses on his uncle John Jasper, an opium addict and choir master who is romantically interested in his nephew's fiancé. In the story, Drood disappears under mysterious circumstances, and, due to Dicken's premature death at 58, the mystery is never resolved. Accordingly, many of the novel's fans speculate as to whether or not Drood is dead and, if so, who killed him. Many authors have attempted to resolve the plot, including Dickens' son Charley in 1873 and Thomas James, a Vermont-based printer and con artist who claimed to have channeled the deceased Dickens and learned his intended ending for the novel.