Cassell's Saturday Journal

'Signatures of Eminent Persons' was published in Cassell's Saturday Journal of 11 June 1887 and  placed Wilkie Collins's signature among those of Louis XV, King William of Prussia, the revolutionary Talleyrand-Périgord, and a comedian called William Farren.


William Wilkie Collins, the eldest son of the late Mr. W. Collins, the artist, was born in 1824. His first appearance in any business was “in tea;” he then proceeded to the legal profession, and entered at Lincoln’s Inn. While studying for the Bar, he compiled and wrote a biography of his father,


and the praise which this work received induced the young man to leave law severely alone, and try literature. In 1850 his first novel appeared, and since that time we have all delighted in the wonderfully-constructed tales of the author. He contributed to Household Words and All the Year Round, and his novels are too well known to need recapitulation. Several of them have been adapted by the author and other dramatists for the stage. The Frozen Deep was produced at Tavistock House, the residence of Dickens, who played in it with Collins and others. No Thoroughfare was another stage success, with Fechter in a leading part.

The handwriting of Mr. Collins betrays great care and caution. The well-formed C denotes the artistic taste which no doubt he inherits from his parents. The closeness of the writing and its continuity tell us of his grip of ideas and the logical sequence of his mind. The calm, fair line betrays no subterfuge; but there are the tact and caution of the legal habit and the firmness of the hand that knows what it has to write about.

From Cassell's Saturday Journal 11 June 1887 IV No.193 p589

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