Albert Field: The Mystery of Edwin Drood Solved by Charles Dickens

The author of this book is Albert Field, who lived from 1916 to 2003 and was a lifelong enthusiast of mysteries of all kinds.

Albert was particularly fascinated by Drood. His solution to the mystery, which appears in this book, was composed on a typewriter in the 1960s.

Albert graduated from Columbia University in 1938 with a Bachelor's in English. He also graduated from Harvard University in 1940 with a Master's in English.
He loved chess, drama, debate, oratory and hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Founder of the Salvador Dali Archives, Albert spent most of his professional life collecting and authenticating original works by Dali, with whom he worked closely for many years.

This book is being published posthumously on Albert's behalf by Frank Hunter, friend, colleague and current CEO of the Salvador Dali Archives.


Jasper's only purpose in life has been to hold Ned to him. He cannot have had a happy childhood, with no mother and (much of his life) no father. There was no one else but Ned to satisfy his need for love. And Ned, also having no mother and losing his father during adolescence, needs Jasper's love and loves him in return.

But now Ned is about to leave him both geographically and emotionally; when they dine together, he proposes a toast to Pussy, and that evening leaves her birthday present at the school. Grewgious makes it clear the wedding will take place, and the "lovers" are seen to kiss.

He will lose the only person he ever cared about and (more importantly) the only person who ever cared about him. He will be alone the rest of his life.

When Jasper banned the words "uncle" and "nephew," he was trying to bring them closer. Yet for two men who are too close in age to be father and son, there are only two relationships that are closer. It may be that Jasper wants Ned to feel that he is his brother (which is half true but cannot be revealed). Or it may be that he hopes for the closeness of a special friendship. All of his love is focused on Ned; he wants all of Neds love for himself.

The adjectives that Dickens used to describe Jasper's feelings are too precise to allow any other explanation - e.g., "a look of hungry, exacting and yet devoted affection."

"Hungry" means that he yearns for more response of affection than he is receiving. Even though Ned demonstrates his affection, Jasper wants more. Fatherly love, brotherly love, and friendship have no "hungry" looks.

The word "exacting" is even more revealing. Protective affection (brother, father, guardian) are not exacting and do not require a return.

"Watchful" is ambiguous. It may refer to his watching over the youth to an extent that other people feel he does to excess - or to his seeking even the smallest signs of Ned's affection for him.

Dickens adds "and yet devoted" to emphasize that the devotion is in spite of the other qualifying adjectives. And that there is no other object of his affection - Ned is the only object.

But the key to Jasper's personality is not that he loves Ned, but that he cannot face this fact: He cannot accept his loving. His subconscious mind contains an almost independent rationale for existence and motive for action unknown and unacceptable to his conscious mind.

If he had been able to admit to himself that his love for Ned was beyond the norm, he could have relieved his tension by handling the problem in either of two ways.

  1. He could more actively try to turn Ned against Rosa and perhaps against all women - a very difficult task.
  2. Or (more likely to be acceptable in Dickens's time), he could renounce his hopes of having Ned for himself and devote himself to Ned's happiness with Rosa. Renunciation would help dispel his feeling of guilt and would let him go on living in an aura of nobility of soul.

But to face the truth is not Jasper's way. He flees from dullness to opium. He flees from guilt to an unreal world, and this time the price of his flight is his soul itself. Because he dare not view himself whole, the secret side of his nature gains so great a strength that it can control his actions without his knowing what he is doing or even what he has done!

When his conscious mind is dulled by opium, he takes the dangerous trip with his fellow traveler. Always the two of them together, Ned and he pass through travail to splendor. Ned and he, together, travel where any misstep means destruction to the dream of happiness, together.

Is there also in the depth of his mind an envy that Ned is their father's heir and is to inherit considerable money? Jasper, the elder son, was neither acknowledged nor properly remembered in their father's will. He never had his due. All his life he was an outsider. And now the only thing he does have is to be taken from him.

Jasper cannot live if Ned's love is given to another. Therefore we have not suicide, which a weak but saner man might choose, nor renunciation, which a strong man would prefer - but murder. If he cannot have Ned, no one will. Here fiction follows fact: Other men have killed the one they loved rather than let that person be lost to them.

If Ned marries Rosa, Jack will be alone with no one to love him. But if Ned is dead, his selective memory can convince him that Ned's affection was as strong as was his own. He can dream in the glow of remembered words and smiles and gestures, and ignore the existence of Rosa. The only flaw is that Ned is not yet dead.

It is necessary that Ned die. The safest way would be to arrange an accident, but Ned is young and strong, and it would be difficult to find a dangerous situation in which to put him. Jasper must kill him himself.

But in order for him to be murdered, he must have an enemy. The arrival of Neville provided one, and Neville's personality and conduct made him an easy \ictim to slander. It was not a loving uncle who provoked the quarrel: It was part of Jasper's plot.

He cannot delay past Christmas Eve, lest the two youths reconcile. His "inner calculations" while talking with Crisparkle set the date. All is ready: the key to the tomb, the quicklime, and the black scarf he hangs upon his arm. "For that brief time, his face is knitted and stern."

But he does not clear his mind of strain. In trying to rid himself of one guilt, he has created an even more powerful one. And just as he could not face his guilt of loving Ned, he cannot face the fact that he has killed him. Again his conscious mind rejects a truth it cannot bear, and once again he flees. His conscious mind blanks out all details of the murder; he remembers nothing of it.

In Tale of Two Cities, Dickens had written about a past hidden in the subconscious of Dr. Manette. Now he probes deeper. The truth is hidden not because of its power to bring back a time of pain and sorrow, but to conceal another guilt the conscious mind cannot accept.

Dickens wrote that a normal mind cannot comprehend the mind of a criminal because the rules of normal conduct cannot be applied to it.

So also, without deep study, is the mind of an insane person incomprehensible. Suppressed truth operates without the knowledge or control of one who is trying to flee from it.

His reaction to the news of the broken engagement is a revelation.

Dickens's note is "Jasper's failure in the one great object made known by Mr. Grewgious." If his object had been to get Rosa for himself, his chances have become much greater, for she was now free to choose.

His reaction becomes believable only when we understand that he realizes that he did not have to kill Edwin in order to keep him from leaving him. In killing him he destroyed his only hope for happiness of any kind.

When he recovers from his faint, his brief return to normalcy has gone.

He tells Grewgious (who knows better) and Crisparkle that it is possible Ned is still alive and unhurt. He does not continue this belief.

His pursuit of Neville is an attempt to prove to himself that he is innocent. He can account for Ned's absence only if someone else is proved to be the killer. He believes his own lies.

Why then does Jasper inflict himself on Rosa? The earlier guilt feeling must be laid to rest: He must demonstrate that he loves a woman, and, since Rosa was (he thought) Ned's love, she is the ideal choice.

In his self-delusion is hidden the seed of his own fate. His diary vow to discover and destroy the person who killed his dear boy is the ironic statement of a schizoid who does not know that he is actually vowing to expose himself as the killer. He is under a compulsion to bring out his own destruction because his subconscious mind is still loaded with unacknowledged guilt. The only way he can find peace of mind is to be caught!

The book will include, as Forster wrote, "the review of the murderer's

career by himself at the close...all elaborately elicited from him as if told of another..." And it is Helena who be the hypnotist!

Here, indeed, is a new and curious idea, a twist of personality hidden even from the man whose mind is warped by it, hidden so well that it can be brought out only by hypnosis. The hypnotist will be Helena Landless.


We now have enough clues to know what must be in the rest of the book.

We will learn who is the relation unknown to Rosa, and who is the skeleton in the Drood Family. The pairs will be firmly formed: Rosa and Tartar, Helena and Crisparkle. "Datchery" will be revealed. Durdles will tap the Sapsea tomb and locate the body in it. There will be a trial. (Since Dickens was once a court reporter, this section would have been melodramatic and comic.)

The stoning of Durdles by Deputy- is so implausible that we are sure that Dickens created the boy as essential part of the plot. He will be the witness necessary to convict Jasper. When Durdles shows the cathedral to Jasper, the presence of Deputy outside rouses Jasper to violent anger. His vehemence not only turns the boy against him, but makes him wonder why Jasper was there. He often looks for Durdles "arter ten" and will be looking for him Christmas Eve. His testimony will place Jasper in the Sapsea.

Jasper will be convicted and be in the condemned cell. Helena will mesmerize him so that he can tell "as if told by another" of his unhappy life and of his doomed love for Ned.

Perhaps certain persons will receive their comeuppance - e.g., Sapsea, Billikin, Honeythunder.



Chapter 24: Jasper is shocked to see the opium woman outside the cathedral and, when she asks for money, rebuffs her. When he leaves her, she angrily tells Datchery much about Jasper and something of her early life. She wants to harm Jasper, so he takes her to Grewgious and tells her she will be paid.

Chapter 25: Grewgious follows both leads in his talk with her. She says she was betrayed by a man, but does not name him. He tells her he knows her grand-daughter and that she dislikes Jasper. She is eager to help, but does not want her to know what has become of her.

Chapter 26: In September, when Miss Twinkleton returns to Cloisterham, Helena moves in with Rosa and routs Billikin. When she visits Neville's, she finds that Jasper has mesmerized him into thoughts of suicide. He tells her a weight is pressing on him "as if there were something I should say or do that I have left unsaid done. I know not what it is."


Chapter 27: Datchery finds out from Durdles the story of his expedition with Jasper and the three keys. He reports to Grewgious. It is October.

Chapter 28: Conferences with Helena, Tartar, Crisparkle and Rosa. Rosa is much cheered by the visit from Tartar. Grewgious tells the others about Jasper's suspicious reaction to the news of the broken engagement. They discuss where the body can be, and how to trap Jasper.

Chapter 29: The day before Christmas, Grewgious and Datchery meet in Cloisterham and get Durdles to demonstrate his ability to find something in hollow spaces. Grewgious tells Jasper about the ring. They look into the Drood tomb and find nothing. He taps the Sapsea tomb and finds something suspicious, but he no longer has the key. He will ask the mayor for it in the morning.


Chapter 30: Crisparkle persuades the mayor to lend him the key to the tomb. Grewgious, Neville and Helena arrive secretly and go to Datchery's rooms while Jasper is at the cathedral. After dark, Helena dresses as a man and enters the tomb, which is locked behind her by the others, who hide nearby. Deputy arrives looking for Durdles.

Chapter 31: Jasper enters the tomb. When he opens the door, Helena speaks in a whisper, "Looking for me, Jack?" Jasper shrieks and faints. Durdles comes out of the crypt and says that was the cry he heard. The Dean's dog howls.

Chapter 32: Datchery and Grewgious find the remains and the ring, which Grewgious identifies. Jasper sneaks out. Deputy cries "That's 1m!" The Dean's dog howls, Durdles emerges from the crypt and says Jasper ran in. He says that was the cry he heard last year.

The others chase Jasper, who is delayed unlocking the two doors.

They race up the stairs after him, and Tarter and Crisparkle seize him.


Chapter 33: The trial begins, testimony that it is a human body disfigured by quicklime, which would have no effect on the ring. Grewgious testifies he gave the ring to Edwin, and Bazzard is witness. The defense makes Jasper admit he had always been devoted to Edwin.

The jeweler reveals that Jasper knew of the two other items of jewelry but not of the ring. He says that the fact that the watch ran down proves it had not been in the water long. Rosa testifies that Edwin did not give the ring to her. She must admit Jasper had always seemed fond of Edwin.

Neville testifies that the three of them had a peaceful dinner Christmas Eve, and that then he and Edwin walked to the river and parted. He is a nervous witness and makes a bad impression when he is forced to admit he had quarreled with Edwin, that no one had seen them on their walk, and that Jasper had always seemed friendly with Edwin.

Chapter 34: Crisparkle testifies that he found the watch and pin at the weir. He confirms that Neville quarreled with Edwin, disliked him and threatened him.

The opium woman testifies that Jasper babbled of a threat to "Ned". There is a dispute over the admission of her evidence, but it is allowed. The defense brings out that she tried to blackmail Jasper.

Chapter 35: Durdles testifies that Jasper could have gotten the key of the Sapsea tomb and made a copy while he was asleep. Defense says he was drunk.

Grewgious testifies to Jasper's strange reaction. The defense brings out that Jasper had been without sleep for three days searching for the body and calls him heartless.

Grewgious says Jasper knew they planned to look into the Sapsea tomb in the morning, and that they then watched him open the door and go in. The defense agrees Edwin was murdered, but will prove Jasper did not kill him.


Chapter 36: The Defense calls witnesses to prove Jasper was affectionate with Edwin: Mr. and Mrs. Tope, Mr. Sapsea, shopkeepers. They call a member of the posse that tracked Neville after his early departure Christmas morning. He reports Neville's walking stick had blood on it.

Chapter 37: Mr. Jasper on the stand says that on the night of the murder Neville was suspiciously polite to Ned, as if trying to show he was friendly. He says Neville was very nervous when he asked Ned to take a walk with him. Jasper says he found the key in his room and showed it to Neville and Ned, who could not identify it. Jasper says his drink was drugged, and he fell asleep waiting for Ned to return.

On the night of the arrest, the key appeared again. He does not know how it got into his room, but Neville was in town. After Grewrgious spoke to him, he wondered if the reason Ned's body had not been found was that it was in the Sapsea tomb and went out to look.

Helena's masquerade as Ned so unnerved him that he ran into the cathedral intending to kill himself.


Chapter 38: They are disheartened. The Nevilles return to Crisparkle's for the night. Tartar takes Rosa to the hotel and goes back to his room, where Grewgious waits for him. Deputy' comes to see Dick. He says the man that went into the tomb and ran out was the one he saw come out of the tomb the night of the murder.

The next day there is a wrangle over allowing the boy to testify'. The fact that Jasper is vehemently against it persuades the judge to allow him to do so. He explains about stoning Durdles home late at night.

Once before he had watched Jasper and Durdles go into the Cathedral and had seen Jasper come out without him, but go back hours later. On the previous Christmas Eve, he had seen Jasper come out of the Sapsea tomb and lock it.

The defense says it is all a plot by Grewgious, Tartar, Crisparkle and the Nevilles. Neville was the killer. He took the key from Jasper's room and used it to open the tomb to put Edwin's body in, then returned the key to Jasper's room and set off on his strange trip. It was the jealous foreigner and not the devoted uncle.

Chapter 39: In the condemned cell, Jasper will not speak at all. The opium woman learns he is her son and is glad he will die. She begs Grewgious not to let Rosa know who she is. She asks him to give the rest of her money to Deputy. She dies.

Chapter 40: Tartar proposes and is accepted. Bazzard leaves for other work. Grewgious offers to train Neville for the law. Helena mesmerizes Jasper, He tells of his unhappy childhood and of his guilty love for Ned.