Wilkie Collins to Mrs Flint, 30 July 1888

ALS to Mrs Flint dated [Monday] 30 July 1888. Single sheet of cream, machine-made paper, no watermark, 155 x 201mm. Folded. Irregular hole approximately 10mm x 6mm affects text on three pages. The missing text totalling 8 letters is indicated by {}. The hole could be a burn, on the first recto it appears edged in some black material. Another smaller hole, 1mm x 1mm, does not affect the text.

The Public Face of Wilkie Collins IV 334.

82. Wimpole Street
London. W.
30 Jul 1888

Dear Madam
          I have been moving
into [illegible deletion] a new house.
Many things have been lost
--letters among them--
and I have found it a
hard task to ke{ep} up
with the deman{ds} of a
large correspondence.
         Unfortunately for me,
you do not mention
the subject of the
unanswered letter to
which you allude. I
cannot say whether it

ever reached me, or whether
it has been lost, or whether
it was laid aside to be
answered at the first
convenient time, and
forgotten in the confusions
and worries of moving
from one house to another.
The only letters from my
readers which I deliberately
lea{ve} without a reply
are requests for autographs
which are not accompanied
by a stamped and directed
envelope -- and other
requests which invite
me to read manuscripts
and find publishers for
them. In every other
case, I answer my letters--
and I may say for myself
that I am incapable of
knowingly neglecting to thank
a lady when she is as
kind as to write to me.
         If you think it worth
while to let me know
what the nature of your
first letter was, the reply
shall be sent to {yo}u by
return of mail. In
the meantime, I can only
express my regret.
  Believe me, dear Madam,
            Faithfully yours
           Wilkie Collins
Mrs [?] Flint

Collins moved to 82 Wimpole Street on 16 or 17 March 1888. He used his old headed paper and deleted the old address in this way right up to September. Two weeks earlier, on 12 July, he wrote of the move to a French acquaintance.

"After 20 years residence in Gloucester Place, I have been driven into encountering the horrors of moving by the expiration of my lease, and by the exorbitant terms asked me for renewing it by the agent of my landlord, and enormously rich nobleman named Lord Portman. He asked me to pay, for the right of continuing to live in the house no less a sum than twelve hundred pounds - to say nothing of other merciless stipulations. In our choice English phrase I determined to "see him damned first" - and here I am in a much quieter situation and in a much nicer house, beginning domestic life again at the age of 64 (alas!)."

Collins died 14 months later on 23 September 1889, aged 65.

Mrs. Flint remains unidentified. No other letters to her are known. Addressing her as 'Dear Madam' indicates Wilkie knew her only slightly, if at all. It is remarkable that Wilkie wrote such a detailed and lengthy letter to a stranger. It shows his courtesy and politeness.

This enlarged image shows the 'Mrs.' and the 'Flint' clearly. The first name is almost certainly an abbreviation, being followed by a full stop. It would normally be her husband's name. 


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