Letter to Walford



17th April 1861
            I regret that it is quite impossible for me to correct a production which is so essentially incorrigible as the biographical notice that accompanies your letter. I will mention the main errors, as a matter of personal courtesy towards yourself—and will leave it to you to decide whether the Memoir ought in common justice to be rewritten or not.

            I was not born in 1825, but in 1824. My mother (although she is a sister of Mrs. Carpenter’s) is not a daughter of the late Mr Geddes the painter. At the date of the Memoir, I was “chiefly known to the public” (as every other writer is) by those works of mine which had attained the largest circulation. They were—previously to the year 1860—“Basil”, “After Dark”, and “The Dead Secret”—not the life of my father or “Antonina” which have had fewer readers than any of my other works. “Rambles Beyond Railways” was not a “collection of prose sketches” but a narrative of a walking tour in Cornwall (the third edition of which has just been published). Before I wrote the drama of “The Frozen Deep”, I produced The Lighthouse (first played in private at Tavistock House, and then performed at The Olympic Theatre). So much for the correction necessary to the Memoir of me, as it now stands.

            For the new issue of the work under your superintendence I have only to add, that my last published work is The Woman In White. This book has already gone through many editions in England and America, and has been translated into French and German.

            What the meaning may be of the singular statement which charges me with “putting myself forward as a critic of art”, I cannot undertake to say! Where I put myself forward, and when, I have not the least idea. I criticise nothing—not even the peculiar form of literary art which my obliging biographer sets before me in his “The Men of the Time”.

            I am, Sir,
            Your obedient servant
            Wilkie Collins

Edward Walford

Letter to biographer and editor Edward Walford (1823-1897) who had recently taken over Men of The Time.

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