To Miss Constance Lennox, 15 September 1866

ALS to Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox (c1844-1925) dated [Saturday] 15 September 1866 about photographs. Single sheet of cream laid paper, 180x227mm, watermarked JOYNSON 1865, folded, integral blank. 

The Public Face of Wilkie Collins II 46

9, Melcombe Place
Dorset Square. NW
Sept 15th 1866

Dear Miss Lennox,
I have sent
specimens of three
different “portraits of
a gentleman”, in
three different states
of photographic suffering,
to Farley Hill, and
I have begged Messrs



Elliot to place at
your disposal any
one of the portraits
which you may
honour with your choice.

With kindest
remembrances to all
at Swallowfield,
Believe me
Very truly yours
Wilkie Collins
Miss Constance Lennox


Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox (c1844-1925) was the 2nd child of Lord Arthur Lennox, the 7th son of the 4th Duke of Richmond. She married George Russell, the third son of Sir Henry Russell, 2nd baronet of Swallowfield, on 5 March 1867. Wilkie Collins was invited to the wedding but was in Paris. He had first met Sir Henry and his wife and eldest son Henry in January 1838 when he was 14. The Russells joined the Collins family for a visit to Pompeii and Amalfi together. The younger Henry died in 1847. George Russell became the 4th baronet on the death of his brother Charles in 1883.

Collins stayed at Farley Hill Court, near the village of Swallowfield south of Reading Berkshire, for about a week returning to London on Friday 14 September 1866, the day before this letter was written. While there he travelled the four miles to visit his friends the Russells at their house Swallowfield Park where he met Constance Lennox. She later wrote a book in which she says "Wilkie Collins was very intimate with the Russells and often was at Swallowfield" Swallowfield and its Owners, Lady Constance Russell, London 1901 p211

Farley Hill Court

Swallowfield Park

Elliott & Fry was a photographer at 55 Baker Street, London, close to Melcombe Place. It is known that Collins sat for them in 1871 but it now appears he sat earlier too. The images below appear to be from that sort of date - his beard was lighter in 1871. 

Note that Wilkie mis-spells 'Elliott' as 'Elliot'.

These images are thought to have been taken around 1866 and could be two versions of the 'portraits of a gentleman' which Wilkie mentions. The right hand image appears in The Bookman June 1912.


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