Thomas Power James was a publisher in Brattleboro, Vermont best known for publishing a completion of Charles Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which he claimed to be written by the spirit of Dickens channeled through a spiritualist summoning.
In her book, "The Annals of Brattleboro," Mary Cabot dedicated a section to T.P. James, called "The Tramp Printer." She declared that James only published one issue of his spiritualist magazine, The Summerland Messenger, and did not succeed in publishing the next novel that James said Dickens' ghost was dictating to him, "The Life and Times of Bockely Whickleheap." She also states that he rarely stayed in a job for longer than a year.
Cabot may have overstated things, but it is true that in his lifetime, James did have a tendency to disappear. He did start newspapers in at least four towns and repeatedly left within a relatively short time of doing so. He also married at least four wives, (research indicates he may have had at least two more) and vanished from their lives.
Though James wrote a solution to Dickens' mystery, he unintentionally created other mysteries for researchers to puzzle over. Why did he leave Brattleboro, after becoming the co-editor and co-publisher of the Windham County Reformer? What happened to him after he left Brattleboro? How many wives did he have, and what happened to them? Did he continue to write?
Audio Producer: Reg Martell
Research & Narration: Rolf Parker-Houghton
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Pictured above: T.P. James photo (L) and (R): TP James carved portrait in clay by Cynthia Parker Houghton for the Brattleboro Words Project and Brattleboro Words Trail