Life and Reminiscences


The Life and Reminiscences of E. L. Blanchard edited by Clement Scott and Cecil Howard is mainly entries from his diary which describes his visits to plays, clubs and so on. Often a cast list is given as a footnote. From 1863 to 1887 he was the drama critic for The Daily Telegraph. He also edited periodicals, wrote novels and non-fiction, acted and wrote plays. Collins and he would have known each other by sight but there is no evidence that they corresponded or met.

[1853] April…2nd.—Club meeting; agreeable as usual. Afterwards accept Albert Smith’s friendly offer and go to the Fielding Club. Met G. H. Lewes, J. W. Davieson of the Times, W. Hale, Lee, Murray, Wilkie Collins, etc. [I 105]

[1857] 11th.—At night to Olympic and see the Lighthouse; delighted with it; most effectively got up. Look in at club afterwards.

The Subterfuge—an English version of Livre troisième, Chapitre premier, previously adapted at the Haymarket under the title of A Novel Expedient, and later as My Aunt's Advice—was the first piece; an address written by Robert Brough was spoken by Mr. Robson; and Wilkie Collins’s Lighthouse, done at Tavistock House two years previously by amateurs, made up the bill with Masaniello. In The Lighthouse, Aaron Gurnock, first played by Charles Dickens, now fell to Mr. Robson; Jacob Dale, Mr. Addison; Martin Gurnock, Walter Gordon; Samuel Farley, G. Cooke; Phoebe Dale, Miss Wyndham; Lady Grace, Miss Swanborough. Mr. Vining spoke the original prologue in front of the act-drop, which was an exact reproduction of Stanfield's original picture representing the lighthouse. [I 177] 

[1858] Oct…13th.—At night to Olympic; see Wilkie Collins’s extraordinary drama of Red Vial: acting of Mrs. Stirling wonderfully fine.

This was a very strong melodrama. In it Mrs. Stirling played the part of the Widow Bergmann; Miss Marston, Minna; Walter Gordon, Karl; and Robson was great as a half-witted fellow, Hans Grimm [I 205]

[1865] April…12th.—General Theatrical Fund dinner. Wilkie Collins in chair; good chairman and excellent speeech, but not a very good dinner nor a very enjoyable evening: the Freemason’s Tavern Company pronounced inferior to the old time of the landlord. [I 308]

[1866] October…27th…Olympic: first night here of Wilkie Collins’s piece of The Frozen Deep; goes slowly.

First played on Twelfth Night, 1857, at Tavistock House, Charles Dickens’s London residence, with scenery by Stanfield and Telbin, and in it Charles Dickens’s family appeared, he himself playing Richard Wardour; Wilkie Collins, Frank Aldersley; Mark Lemon, Lieutenant Crayford. At the Olympic, Lydia Foote was the Clara Veron; Henry Neville, Richard Wardour; H. J. Montague, Frank Aldersley; Horace Wigan, Lieutenant Crayford; Amy Sheridan, Mrs. Steventon; Miss Alliston, Rose Ebsworth. Hawes Craven painted the scenery. [I 329]

 [1867] December…28th…To Adelphi, and see No Thoroughfare, with which much pleased.

This was Wilkie Collins’s dramatization of his story of the same name, written in collaboration with Charles Dickens for the Christmas number of All The Year Round. Joey Ladle, Benjamin Webster; Walter Wilding, Billington; Bintrey, Belmore; George Vendale, Neville; Obenreiser, Fechter; Marguerite, Caroltta Leclercq; Sally Goldstraw, Mrs. Alfred Mellon. [I 350]

[1869] March…29th.—Adelphi, Fechter and Wilkie Collins’s drama, Black and White.

Miss Milburn, Carlotta Leclercq; Stephen Westcraft, Arthur Stirling; Maurice de Layrac, Fechter; David Michaelmas, E. Atkins; Plato, G. Belmore. [II 368]

[1871] Oct….9th…Olympic produces Woman in White.

This was Wilkie Collins's dramatization of his own novel. Ada Dyas doubled the parts of Anne Catherick and Laura Fairlie; Billington, Sir Percival Glyde; Marie Henderson, Mrs. Catherick; Wybert Reeve, Walter Hartwright; F. Robson, Professor Pesca; Marian Halcombe, Mrs. Charles Viner (late Miss Cleveland); Count Fosco, Vining. The farce of The Boot on the Right Leg was also played. [II 403] 

[1873] February…22nd.—Attend Prince of Wales’s, Wilkie Collins’s Man and Wife; piece admirably acted and mounted, but not, I think, destined for a long run. A wonderful gathering of celebrities.

Sir Patrick Lundie, John Hare; Geoffrey Delamayn, C. Coghlan; Arnold Brinkworth, W. Herbert; Mr. Speedwell, S. B. Bancroft; Mr. Moy, Charles Collette; Bishopriggs, Mr. Dewar; Duncan, Mr. Franks; Lady Lundie, Mrs. Leigh Murray; Blanche Lundie, Marie Wilton; Ann Silvester, Lydia Foote; Mistress Inchbare, Miss Lee. This was a play written by the author to illustrate the imperfections of the Scotch Marriage Law, and also to show that athleticism carried to an undue degree brutalizes the finer feelings. [II 422]

[1883] June…9th…then to Adelphi to see Wilkie Collins’s drama of Rank and Riches, which proves a success.

Duke of Heathcote, C. Sugden; Earl of Laverock, J. W. Pigott; Lady Calista, Miss Lingard; Lady Sherlock, Mrs. Billington; Mr. Dominic, G. W. Anson; Cecil Cassilis, George Alexander; Alice Ryecroft, Myra Holme. [II 550]

From The Life and Reminiscences of E. L. Blanchard, with Notes from the diary of Wm. Blanchard by Clement Scott and Cecil Howard, London 1891.

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