The Drood Inquiry
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An Experience

In a letter to Forster dated 6 August 1869, Dickens spoke of the latest tale he was publishing in his journal, All the Year Round, which he felt was “a very remarkable story indeed for you to read. It is only two chapters. A thing never to melt into other stories in the mind, but always to keep itself apart.” That story was “An Experience” by Emily Jolly, and it is interesting for Droodists because Dickens’s letter then immediately continues to outline the early plot idea for Edwin Drood. The plot deviates quite significantly from that of Dickens’s tale; the intended crime is thwarted love rather than murder, when a mother seeks vengeance on the surgeon whose overenthusiasm for a new surgical procedure leads to her child’s death. David Paroissien makes the valid case however that in both cases there is a premeditated crime, in which the victim is kept close to the perpetrator (in Jolly’s tale the mother acts as nurse to the surgeon when he himself falls ill), and there can also be seen to be a mesmeric charm which the mother holds over the surgeon. Add to this her gloomy demeanour and you have in some respect a female counterpart of Jasper (you can read both parts of the story here