Men and Women of the Century


Henry Currie Marillier (1865-1951) was an expert in carpets and tapestry. His Men and Women of the Century was a collection of portraits by Rudolf Lehmann introduced by a short essay about the subject. Here it begins with a major quote from Lehmann's own An Artist's Reminiscences published in the same year. It adds nothing to what we know.


(B. 1824.óD. 1889.)

MR. LEHMANN says, in his "Reminiscences," "I made Wilkie Collinsís acquaintance in the house of my younger brother Frederic, whose intimate friend he was. I painted him, a commission from my brother, in 1880. Being the son of a celebrated Royal Academician, he proved a most patient sitter. He had a full beard and always wore spectacles. A peculiarity of his otherwise regular features was a swelling of the frontal bone, considerably protruding on the right side of his spacious forehead. In his moments of good health he used to be a ready, amiable talker, but, unfortunately, they were rare. He had found laudanum most efficacious in soothing his excruciating nervous pains. . . . Wilkie had gradually brought himself, not only to be able, but absolutely to require, a daily quantity of laudanum, a quarter of which would have been sufficient to kill any ordinary person. Nothing under a table-spoonful would do for his nightís rest."

No doubt this state of health partly accounts for the nightmare-like qualities of his stories. His plots are very elaborate and carefully worked out, and, generally, highly sensational; his favourite method of telling a story was by means of a series of narratives from the lips of the chief characters. He wrote about twenty novels and collections of short stories, many of which came out in "All the Year Round," "Household Words," and "Cornhill." The best known are "The Woman in White," "Armadale," "No Name," "The Moonstone," and " The New Magdalen."

Wilkie Collins was born in London, travelled with his parents in Italy for three years during his boyhood, and on his return was put into business, to which he stuck for four years. Then he began to prepare for the Bar, but soon drifted into novel-writing. His first work was a life of his father, William Collins, the well-known landscape and figure painter.

From Men and Women of the Century by Henry Curry Marillier, London 1894 p16

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