EPILOGUE for THE LAST DICKENS:
facts behind characters and elements of THE LAST DICKENS:
After Fields's retirement, James Ripley Osgood thrived for several years. The terrible Boston fire of 1872 destroyed some of the steel plates owned by the publishing firm. The following year, Osgood was forced to sell all three of his magazines. Facing steep financial problems, Osgood agreed to a merger with Houghton & Hurd. Later in life, Osgood moved to England to work for Harper & Bros. as their London agent. He died in 1892 in London, where he is buried.
After Fields retired, he used his various experiences to write his memoirs of literary figures. He also spoke on the lecture circuit. He died in Boston in 1881 and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Fletcher “Major” Harper retired in 1875. He died in 1877 at his home in New York and is buried at Greenwood cemetery. He was the last survivor of the original Harper brothers.
Following seven years of service in the Bengal police, Francis Dickens continued his chosen profession in North America, receiving an appointment to the North-West Mounted Police in Canada beginning in 1874. Francis participated in several important battles and was promoted to Inspector in 1880. He died in 1886 while traveling in Moline, Illinois, where he is buried.
Approximately ten years after Dickens's death, one of Dickens's sons, Charley, co-wrote a theatrical production
of The Mystery of Edwin Drood with a new ending, which he claimed was in part based on the authority
of the information his father had shared with him. The play has to this day never been produced. The manuscript
is at the Chalrles Dickens Museum in London. (Charley was originally depicted as a character in The
Last Dickens, but eliminated in a later draft)
Years after Dickens's death, a collector discovered a sheaf of his papers in Dickens's unique shorthand. It was believed the bundle of papers could be the ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Turning to Henry Dickens, one of Dickens's sons, to help decipher, the papers were decoded—but apparently had nothing to do with Drood.
According to a literary historian in the early twentieth century, James Osgood wrote a manuscript detailing his experiences as a publisher, including extensively about his time with Charles Dickens during the American tour. This manuscript has never been located. Osgood had left it in the possession of A. V. S. Anthony, an engraver, at whose death passed it on to his widow. Tracking their descendants leads to actor Anthony Perkins, whose father was named James Ripley Osgood Perkins after the publisher and who also had a son named Osgood Perkins. If the manuscript still exists, it does not appear to be registered to a library or archive and may still be held somewhere as a private possession.
original materials © Matthew Pearl.