To John Palgrave Simpson, 12 October 1866

  ALS to John Palgrave Simpson dated 12 October 1866 about the rights to perform The Frozen Deep
Single folded sheet of laid paper, watermark hard to discern (may be JOYNSON) 180x228mm. Dated [Friday] 12 October 1866. The ms address is written above a small, oval central embossed device.

The Public Face of Wilkie Collins, II 50-51



Newnham Paddox
October 12th 1866
My dear Palgrave Simpson

I am on a visit here
till Monday next – and
on Wednesday I go to Italy
The free moments in this
house are the only free
moments I have had for
some time past – or you
would have received “The
Frozen Deep” before this.
Better late than never
– I now send you a copy
by book-post.
I hope to be back in
December. The play will
be produced at the Olympic


N.B. If my resignation as the dramatic author
is necessary to my contemplated negociations
with country managers---my resignation
is left in Charles Ward's hands, and can be
sent in when necessary.
as soon as possible. If country
managers apply for it, under
these cicumstances, I am
sure you will not object to
give Charles Ward – who
manages everything for me
in my absence – the benefit
of your experience, if he
wants a word of advice.
I am already in treaty
with “Mr Coleman” of
York and Leeds – and
am leaving Charles Reade
to conclude the [deletion] negociation


in that quarter – as Charles
Reade brought us together.
In the case of any other
managers, I leave copies
of the piece at Charles Ward’s
disposal – and he will
only have to consult you as
to the nightly terms he shall
ask. They like their
parts at The Olympic –
and are resolute to do
their best.
Can I do anything for
you at Florence or Rome?
Write at once to 9. Melcombe
Place, if I can.
Ever yours Wilkie Collins



P.S. I send you an unmarked copy of The Frozen Deep
---the /stage/ changes at The Olympic being unimportant.


The Frozen Deep was first performed on 6 January 1857 at Dickens's home Tavistock House. Dickens and Collins took the leading male parts and friends and family the others. Shortly after, it was performed in Manchester with professional actresses (but Dickens, Collins and other male friends took the male parts). One of the actresses was Ellen Ternan who became Dickens's mistress. The first fully professional performance was at The Olympic Theatre in London on 27 October 1866. It ran until 15 December. It was not a financial success, Wilkie complained he had not made sixpence out of it. 

John Palgrave Simpson (1807-1887), was a novelist and travel writer who was a friend of Collins. Several letters to him are extant. This letter is contained in an extra-illustrated edition of My Autobiography and Reminiscences by the artist William Powell Frith, another close friend of Wilkie's. It is possible that the book was Palgrave Simpson's. See also 24 June 1881.

Newnham Paddox, near Lutterworth and northwest of Coventry in the English Midlands, was until 1952 the seat of the Earls of Denbigh. The 8th Earl at this time was Rudolph William Feilding (1823-1892). An almost exact contemporary of Wilkie, he had inherited the title from his father a year before this visit. The oval device at the top of the page may be his arms.


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