To James Payn, 6 October 1884

ALS to James Payn, [Monday] 6 October 1884 177x112mm, folded sheet, watermarked BASKERVILLE, VELVET WOVE, fine.

Not in The Public Face of Wilkie Collins.

6th Oct: 1884

My dear Payn
Two questions:
1. Has “By Proxy”
escaped the clutches of
the ordinary Italian translator?
2. If yes — do you
care to extend the influence
of that interesting story
to a new circle of readers
in Italian newspapers?

By far the best translator
whom I have

yet met with is the Italian
lady who translates my books.
She is not dependent on
her pen, and she follows
her original conscientiously
and gives herself all the
time that is required for
her difficult task.

On the other side,
let me add, that you
would be served up in
daily teaspoonfuls, in
a feuilleton
. Also
that the translation
fees are so contemptible
that they are not even

to be thought of, either by you
or me.

I go back tomorrow to
90. Gloucester Place — after
some glorious sailing. On
the deck of the yacht, I
read with sincere pleasure
some friendly words relating
to poor dear Charley and
to myself, in “Literary
Recollections”, which added
to the delights of my

Ever yours 

Wilkie Collins



James Payn (1830-1898), novelist, journalist and editor who was a friend of Wilkie's. His By Proxy was published in 1878 in two volumes. He is seen here in a Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne published in 1881. The caption reads 'When he writes a novel Payn takes a lot of trouble; and when novel readers want some books, they take a lot of Payn's.'

Payn’s Some Literary Recollections was published by Smith, Elder in 1884. There is in fact very little in the book about Wilkie – his reaction to a book of Payn’s occupies 10 lines on pp. 242-243 – or his brother Charles, about whom a couple of anecdotes are told on pp. 255-258.

Wilkie's Italian translator is almost certainly Lida Cerracchini who translated La Vesti Nere (The Black Robe) published in Milan by Fratelli Treves in 1882 and Cuore e Scienza (Heart and Science) published by Eduardo Souzogno also in Milan in 1884. The latter volume says it is traduzione autorizzata (Authorised translation).

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