Literary Recollections

James Payn (1830-1898) was a novelist and friend of Wilkie's. They collaborated on a letter about copyright in Chamber's Journal  Payn dedicated his novel Gwendoline's Harvest (1870) to Collins. This brief mention of Collins in Some Literary Recollections is therefore disappointing but the longer anecdote about brother Charles gives a little more insight into the Collins family. See also his later anecdote about The Moonstone.

…I had reason to be grateful to ‘Lost Sir Massingberd.’ It attracted the attention of some of my masters in the art of fiction, and among them that of my friend Wilkie Collins. He has probably long forgotten the gracious words which he bestowed upon it, but I remember them as though they were spoken yesterday instead of twenty years ago. Accustomed as was the author of ‘The Moonstone’ to strike at the root of a mystery, he told me that he could not guess what had .become of my missing baronet—in which lies what dramatic interest the book possesses—till he came on the page that told him. [pp242-243]

I was talking to Charles Collins, who with many others was staying in the house, when he was accosted by a fellow-guest of the ‘exquisite’ type. ‘What a dem’d funny set of people!’ he said ; ‘’pon my life, before I was told who they were, I thought it was the Foresters.’

Charles Collins, brother of the novelist of that name and son-in-law to Dickens, was himself an excellent writer. His ‘Cruise upon Wheels’ is one of the most charming books of travel ever written, and his short sketches—notably those two accounts of a visit to the Docks, one supposed to be written under local influences, and the other the next day in all statistical sobriety—testify to his great powers of humour. He was in weak health, and endured with admirable patience more physical suffering than his friends were aware of. He, however, sometimes exhibited a whimsical finicality. ‘No one gives less trouble than myself,’ he once observed to a friend of mine who was his host, ‘but I like my little tastes consulted. Your bacon at breakfast is not very streaky, and would you be so kind as to ask your man to hang up my great coat by the loop?’ [pp 255-256]

From Some Literary Recollections by James Payn, London 1884

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