This piece was published in April 2011
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All The Year Round
Non-fiction by Wilkie Collins

In 1859 Dickens closed Household Words after a row with his publisher and launched a new periodical called All The Year Round which he published himself.

Wilkie Collins wrote less non-fiction for the new periodical as his novel writing career took off. He published three long novels in All The Year Round The Woman in White (1859-60) No Name 1862-63), and The Moonstone (1867-68). Only Armadale of the big four novels of this era was not published by Dickens after Wilkie was tempted by an advance of £5000 to publish in The Cornhill (1865-66).

When All The Year Round was launched in 1859 Dickens was keen to make an impact with his new venture. Wilkie Collins was one of his trusted staff members and he contributed several pieces in the first few months before his time became dominated by writing The Woman in White.

There is no contemporary record of who wrote what for All The Year Round. The ‘office book’ which listed contributors and their payments has never been found and the ‘office set’ of the periodical with the names of authors written against each piece disappeared in the early 20th century. So we have to rely on other evidence.

There are three major sources of attribution.

·        New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (1969) attributes 16 pieces to Collins though seven have a ‘?’ next to them. It omits three pieces published separately by Collins.

·         Ella Ann Oppenlander Dickens’ All The Year Round: Descriptive Index and Contributor List New York 1984. She identifies twenty pieces by Collins.

·         New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (1999) also identifies twenty pieces, many sourced from the 1969 edition and Oppenlander.

Between them, these three sources attribute 23 non-fiction pieces in All The Year Round to Wilkie Collins.  Of these, only seven are clearly tied to him by external evidence.

Three were included in Collins’s book My Miscellanies (1863) – a collection of pieces published under Collins’s name from Household Words and All The Year Round.

1.       Pray Employ Major Namby! (ATYR 4 June 1859 pp. 136-141)

2.       Portrait of an Author. (ATYR 18 June 1859 pp. 184-189 and 25 June pp. 205-210)

3.       The Bachelor Bedroom. (ATYR 6 August 1859 pp. 355-360)

Two were clearly mentioned by Charles Dickens in letters.

4.       Sure to be Healthy Wealthy and Wise (ATYR 30 April 1859 pp. 5-10)
See CD to WC 9 April 1859 - see Pilgrim The Letters of Charles Dickens, IX pp. 48-49.

5.       The Dead Lock in Italy (8 December 1866 ATYR pp. 510-514)

See CD to James Birtles 25 November 1866 Pilgrim XI p. 277

One more was mentioned by Charles Dickens in letters referring to a joint effort between Dickens and Collins.

6.       Occasional Register (ATYR 30 April 1859 pp. 10-11)

See CD to WC 9 April 1859 Pilgrim IX pp. 48-49 and CD to Wills 11 April 1859 Pilgrim IX p. 49. In addition Frederic Kitton who saw the office set of All The Year Round  “in which each article has appended the name of the author written by a member of the printing staff” says that Dickens wrote paras 1, 6, 9, 10, and 15. We can infer that Collins wrote paras 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 18 (Minor Works of Charles Dickens 1900 pp. 138 and 142).

Another was mentioned by Dickens and may be a joint effort involving Wilkie Collins

7.       Occasional Register (ATYR 7 May 1859 pp. 35-36) may have been written partly by Collins. Some was written by Edmund Yates and some by Dickens See CD to Wills 11 April 1859 Pilgrim IX p. 49 and CD to Yates 19 April 1859 Pilgrim IX p. 52.) Kitton says CD wrote paras 2, 5, 7, 8, 12 leaving 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10,11 to be shared between Collins and Yates.

Of the remaining 16 pieces, three are tied to other people by clear evidence and identified as such by Oppenlander.

8.       The Tattlesnivel Bleater (ATYR 31 December 1859 pp. 226-229) is by Charles Dickens. See Kitton, op cit p. 139 and Oppenlander p. 263.

9.       An Unreported Speech (ATYR 16 November 1861 pp. 179-181) is by Wilkie’s brother Charles Allston Collins. See CD to John Leech 4 December 1861, Pilgrim IX p. 533. Oppenlander p. 256.

10.   Going into Housekeeping (8 July 1865 pp. 564-567) is by Andrew Halliday and is collected in his Town and Country Sketches 1866. Oppenlander p. 271.

Two others are probably by Wilkie’s brother Charles. He used the phrase ‘Lumbago Terrace’ to refer to his home in London in two pieces that are undoubtedly by him – ‘An Unreported Speech’ (see above) and ‘Our Eye-Witness Among the Buildings’ (2 June 1860 pp. 188-192 which was later collected in The Eye-Witness 1860) and the same phrase appears in two pieces ascribed by NCBEL to Wilkie Collins

11.   Boxing-Day (ATYR 22 December 1860 pp. 258-260)

12.   A Night in the Jungle (ATYR 3 August 1861 (pp. 444-449)

Another piece is most likely to be by Charles Collins – it reads like him and Wilkie already had one piece in that issue, ‘Portrait of an Author’.

13.   My Advisers (ATYR 18 June 1859 pp. 181-183)

And a second piece is almost certainly by Andrew Halliday

14.   To Let (ATYR 18 June 1864 pp. 444-447) is a pair with his ‘Going into Housekeeping’ (see above).

Of the remaining nine pieces, four are almost certainly not by Wilkie Collins as he was too busy writing The Woman in White to be writing non-fiction pieces as well. They are

15.   Small Shot–Cooks at College (29 October 1859 pp 6-7)

16.   My Boys (28 January 1860 pp. 326-329) is not Collins’s style

17.   My Girls (11 February 1860 pp. 370-374) is not Collins’s style or sentiment

18.   Vidocq, French Detective (14 and 21 July 1860 pp. 331-336 and 355-360) does not read like Collins and he is at a crucial time for finishing The Woman in White. This piece could be by Charles Collins – he received a payment of £9-9s from Wills on 11 August 1860 which would be the normal amount for 18 columns in All The Year Round. Vidocq occupies 20. Oppenlander cites Phillip Collins’s unpublished notes for the WC attribution.

Two remaining pieces are of unknown authorship but there is no evidence that they are by Collins.

19.   A Trial at Toulouse (15 February 1862) is wrongly attributed in Pilgrim to Charles Collins (X pp. 26-27 and n.9). In fact that letter refers to ‘The Cost of Coal’ (ATYR 15 February 1862 pp. 492-496). See [3081] WC to Wills 27 January 1862 “Charley ought to make something good of that terrible colliery subject” (Collected Letters of Wilkie Collins, Addenda & Corrigenda (4), Wilkie Collins Society 2008 pp. 4-5).

20.   Notes of Interrogation (10 May 1862 pp. 210-212) is not Wilkie Collins’s style and he was very busy at that time writing No Name. The piece uses a couple of ideas repeated in ‘Suggestions from a Maniac’ (see below).

That leaves three other pieces that are almost certainly by Collins based on style and internal evidence from the pieces themselves. They are

21.   Royal Academy in Bed (ATYR 28 May 1859 pp. 105-109) the style, the views, the personal details such as that the author has been visiting the Royal Academy summer exhibition since 1835 tie this firmly to Collins.

22.   New View of Society (ATYR 20 August 1859 pp. 396-399) the style, the subject, and the view of ‘dressing’ ties this to Collins.

23.   Suggestions from a Maniac (ATYR 13 February 1864 pp. 9-13) the style and the reference to Thomas Idle (a name used for Collins in The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices).

This analysis identifies eight pieces by Collins (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 21, 22, 23) and two pieces partly by him (6, 7). The rest are certainly – or at least almost certainly – not by him.

April 2011

Originally published as the Introduction to a reprint of three of the pieces for the Wilkie Collins Society

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