Edwin Drood, a young engineer with prospects of becoming a partner in the firm of his late father. He disappears and is presumed dead, but his fate and murderer are never disclosed in this mystery novel, unfinished at the author’s death.
Jack Jasper, Drood’s young uncle and guardian, a cathedral choirmaster. An opium addict, he is in love with Rosa Bud and is perhaps the likeliest candidate for the role of murderer.
Rosa Bud, an orphan. She and Drood agree to break their parentally formed, longstanding engagement. She fears Jasper and loves Neville Landless.
Neville Landless, an orphaned Englishman newly arrived from Ceylon who falls in love with Rosa. His quarrel with Drood is a factor in his being suspected of the murder.
Helena Landless, Rosa’s close friend, the sister of Neville.
Mr. Crisparkle, Landless’ tutor, who introduces him to Drood and Jasper and who aids him in taking refuge in London after Drood’s disappearance.
Mr. Grewgious, Rosa’s guardian, from whom she seeks protection after Jasper tries to blackmail her into loving him by threatening to expose Landless.
Datchery, a late-appearing stranger apparently engaged in spying on Jasper.
Durdles, a stonemason who works at Cloisterham Cathedral, where Jasper is choirmaster. One night when Durdles is very drunk, Jasper steals from him the key to an underground tomb.