To an unidentified autograph hunter

ALS dated [Saturday] 1 November 1873 written in mauve ink on faintly lined, laid folded paper, 175x113mm

The Public Face of Wilkie Collins II 423.

very truly yours

Wilkie Collins

November 1st 1873


This unusual item appears to be simply a signature on a very generous piece of paper written while Wilkie was travelling in the USA from Cambridge to New York. The paper and the mauve ink may indicate it is written with the autograph hunter's pen. Back in England some years later Collins wrote to his doctor's son about the importance of preparation in getting autographs. 'Once upon a time, while I was on my way to a grand breakfast in the city of New York, I was stopped in one of the Squares by a very wellbred young gentleman, who said he recognised me by my photographic portraits, and who asked me if I would give him an autograph. I said “Yes – but where am I to send it? or will you call for it?” He said, “Quite unnecessary sir. If you don’t mind, you can give it to me now.” With that, he pulled an autograph book out of one pocket, a pen out of another, and an ancient “ink-horn” out of a third. “How am I to write it?” I asked. He answered “You can write it on my back.” He turned round, and “gave me a back” as if we were playing at leap-frog. I wrote him his autograph (greatly to the amusement of the public in the square) – and we shook hands and parted.' (to Nathaniel Beard, 13 August 1877, The Public Face of Wilkie Collins III 166).

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