Young Edwin Drood, “little more than a boy”, is “half a dozen years or so” younger than his uncle John Jasper. An orphan, he relied on his uncle Jack for guidance, and with Jasper caring for both of them, Edwin maintained a “giddy head and light heart”. He was a man with a bright future ahead of him, engaged to the charming Rosa Bud and training to be an engineer, he was greatly looking forward to his impending move to Egypt to use his skills to “change the whole condition of an undeveloped country”. Yet these optimistic plans have been blighted by his mysterious disappearance one stormy Christmas Eve in Cloisterham.
Edwin had been known to quarrel with newcomer Neville Landless, the last person though to have seen Edwin alive, though it is unclear whether this quarrel was prompted by Neville’s apparent interest in Rosa, or Edwin’s casual admiration of Neville’s sister Helena. Yet Edwin gladly agreed to an arranged reconciliation with Neville on Christmas Eve, a night which would end in his disappearance.
While Cloisterham was enraptured with Edwin’s fairytale engagement to Rosa Bud, daughter of his deceased father’s deceased friend, in truth it appears both Drood and Bud felt somewhat trapped by the impending marriage, arranged by their late parents rather than as a consequence of their own feelings, and it has now emerged that the couple had agreed to break off their engagement, though details of this were only made public after his disappearance. Following the crime, Rosa has fled to London, apparently after receiving unwelcome advances from Edwin’s uncle, John Jasper.