Drood by Dan Simmons
Anticipating reading this book, I re-read The Mystery of Edwin Drood before I started Drood. I think that was a good move. I could also recommend you read Our Mutual Friend too and Wilkie Collins' The Woman In White and The Moonstone. Also, read the summary of Dickens' and Collins' lives that I have provided. Then you should be all set to read Drood!
Drood is a very detailed look at the last years of Dickens' life and his friendship with Wilkie Collins. Sometimes I thought it was too detailed which makes for a long book that dragged in places.
When Dickens narrowly escaped death in the 1865 Staplehurst train wreck (true story) he got out of his car and tried to rescue fellow passengers. Dickens encounters a ghoulish figure who introduces himself as Drood and who had apparently been traveling in a coffin on the train (Simmons' creation). Dickens is sure that Drood introduced himself in order to invite Dickens to find him in the vast underground tunnels of London called Undertown. He enlists his friend, Wilkie Collins, to help him. A retired police detective warns Collins that Drood is responsible for more than three hundred murders, and that he will destroy Dickens in his quest for immortality. But Collins begins to wonder if Dickens is making up Drood to cover his murderous intentions.
Dickens and Collins are not very likeable leading characters. Both are extremely selfish, cruel, arrogant, jealous and totally insensitive to the others in their lives whether it be mother, wife, mistress, daughter, servant, brother, son, friend or animal. But Simmons had to use their selfishness to advance his mystery. By reading the summary of their lives, it is possible they were really that selfish, arrogant and cruel. I will leave it to you to decide.
I read the reviews by readers at Amazon.com and that was very helpful. I think I most agreed with "bornintime". But many of you might agree with "carlacrhis". So I won't give a recommendation because everyone will come away with a different view as to whether they hate or love this book. This is a book for more mature readers and not for teens or younger. And definitely a book for someone who is a prolific reader and has some background knowledge of the 2 authors as I suggested earlier.
Charles’ childhood was cut short when his father was suddenly packed off to the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison in London because he was unable to pay off large debts. The rest of family was to join him there, except for Charles, who had to leave school at the age of 12 and wash bottles at Warren’s Blacking factory. This experience permanently shaped his view of life, as he remembers, “No words can express the secret agony of my soul…I felt my early hopes of growing up to be a learned and distinguished man crushed in my breast.” After only a few months in Marshalsea, John Dickens was informed of the death of his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens, who had left him, in her will, the sum of £450. On the expectation of this legacy, Dickens petitioned for, and was granted, release from prison.
Dicken's birthplace in Portsmouth
Although Charles returned to his family within the same year, his inadequate schooling ended when he was 14, and began work as a clerk in a lawyer’s office in Gray’s Inn, London. This was to prove as yet another unhappy experience, resulting in a lifelong loathing of the legal profession and some material for later novels. At the age of seventeen, he became a court stenographer and, in 1830, met his first love, Maria Beadnell. It is believed that she was the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield. Maria's parents disapproved of the courtship and effectively ended the relationship by sending her to school in Paris. Later, Dickens became a reporter on the parliamentary newspaper True Sun, where he was first recognized for his talents. He learned shorthand, and went on to become the best parliamentary reporter of the age, after working on the Mirror of Parliament and the Morning Chronicle. He married Catherine Hogarth on 4/2/1836.
Gad's Hill House
Swiss Chalet across the road from Gad's Hill House
When Dickens separated from his wife in 1858, divorce was almost unthinkable, particularly for someone as famous as he was, and he financially supported her long afterwards. Although they appeared to be initially happy together, Catherine did not seem to share quite the same boundless energy for life which Dickens had. Nevertheless, her job of looking after their ten children, the pressure of living with a world-famous novelist, and keeping house for him, certainly did not help.
Dickens about 1858
An indication of his marital dissatisfaction may be seen when, in 1855, he went to meet his first love, Maria Beadnell. Maria was by this time married as well, but seemed to have fallen short of Dickens's romantic memory of her.
In 1857, in preparation for public performances of The Frozen Deep, a play on which he and his protégé Wilkie Collins had collaborated, Dickens hired professional actresses to play the female parts. With one of these, Ellen Ternan, Dickens formed a bond which was to last the rest of his life.
Ellen Lawless Ternan
The exact nature of their relationship is unclear, as both Dickens and Ternan burned each other's letters, but it was clearly central to Dickens's personal and professional life. On his death, he settled an annuity on her which made her a financially independent woman. Claire Tomalin's book, The Invisible Woman, set out to prove that Ellen Ternan lived with Dickens secretly for the last 13 years of his life, and was subsequently turned into a play, Little Nell, by Simon Gray.
On 9 June 1865, while returning from France with Ternan, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash in which the first seven carriages of the train plunged off a cast iron bridge that was being repaired. The only first class carriage to remain on the track was the one in which Dickens was travelling.
Staplehurst Train Disaster
Dickens spent some time trying to help the wounded and the dying before rescuers arrived. Before leaving, he remembered the unfinished manuscript for Our Mutual Friend, and he returned to his carriage to retrieve it. Dickens managed to avoid an appearance at the inquest into the crash, as it would have become known that he was travelling that day with Ellen Ternan and her mother, which could have caused a scandal.
Ellen had been Dickens's companion since the breakdown of his marriage, and, as he had met her in 1857, she was most likely the ultimate reason for that breakdown. She continued to be his companion, and likely mistress, until his death. The dimensions of the affair were unknown until the publication of Dickens and Daughter, a book about Dickens's relationship with his daughter Kate, in 1939. Kate Dickens worked with author Gladys Storey on the book prior to her death in 1929, and alleged that Dickens and Ternan had a son who died in infancy, though no contemporary evidence exists.
Dickens, though unharmed, never really recovered from the Staplehurst crash, and his normally prolific writing shrank to completing Our Mutual Friend and starting the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood after a long interval. Much of his time was taken up with public readings from his best-loved novels. Dickens was fascinated by the theatre.
The travelling shows were extremely popular. In 1866 a series of public readings were undertaken in England and Scotland. The following year saw Dickens give a series of readings in England and Ireland. Dickens was now really unwell but carried on, compulsively, against his doctor's advice.
Later in the year he embarked on his second American reading tour, which continued into 1868. During this trip, most of which he spent in New York, he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall between 9 December 1867 and 20 April 1868, and four at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims between 16 January and 21 January 1868. In his travels, he saw a significant change in the people and the circumstances of America. His final appearance was at a banquet at Delmonico's on 18 April 1868, when he promised to never denounce America again. Dickens boarded his ship to return to Britain on 23 April 1868, barely escaping a Federal Tax Lien against the proceeds of his lecture tour.
During 1869, his readings continued, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, until at last he collapsed, showing symptoms of mild stroke. Further provincial readings were cancelled, but he began upon The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens's final public readings took place in London in 1870. He suffered another stroke on 8 June at Gad's Hill, after a full day's work on Edwin Drood, and five years to the day after the Staplehurst crash, on 9 June 1870, he died at his home in Gad's Hill Place.
John Dickens (1785-1851) - Dicken's father, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. In 1809 he married Elizabeth Barrow with whom he had eight children. John loved to live the good life but was frequently unable to pay for it. He was imprisoned for debt in 1824 in the Marshalsea Debtor's Prison. After his release from prison he returned to the Navy Pay Office, retired, and later worked as a reporter. His money problems continued and when Charles gained fame as a writer he frequently embarrassed his son by seeking loans from Charles' friends and publishers behind his back. Charles retained a warm affection for his father while deploring his inability to manage money. John was the source of Charles' character Mr. Micawber in the autobiographical novel, David Copperfield.
Elizabeth (Barrow) Dickens (1789-1863) - Dickens' mother, married John Dickens in 1809. Charles was the second of their eight children. Charles was taken from school to work at Warren's Blacking Factory to help support the family during John's imprisonment for debt. When John was released and a quarrel with Charles' employer resulted in Charles being removed from the Blacking Factory, his mother tried, unsuccessfully, to patch things up and have Charles return to work. For the rest of his life Charles never forgave her. Charles used her as the source of Mrs. Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby.
Frances Elizabeth (Fanny) Dickens (1810-1848) Dickens' oldest sister with whom he was very close in childhood. She was a talented woman and studied music at the Royal Academy of Music. Fanny married Henry Burnett and had a crippled son, Henry Jr, whom Dickens used as a model for both Paul Dombey and Tiny Tim. Fanny died of consumption at age 38.
Alfred Allen Dickens (1813-1814) Dickens' younger brother who died in infancy.
Letitia Mary Dickens (1816-1893) Dickens' younger sister, Letitia married architect and artist Henry Austin in 1837. When Henry died in 1862 Charles secured a government pension for Letitia.
Harriet Dickens (1819-?) Dickens' sister who died in childhood.
Frederick Dickens (1820-1868) Dickens' younger brother who lived with Charles when he moved to Furnival's Inn in 1834 and during the early years of Dickens' marriage to Catherine. Frederick married and fell into debt, using his famous brother's name to obtain credit. Fred was later imprisoned for debt and spent the last years of his life an alcoholic. When he died at age 48 Charles lamented Fred's "wasted life".
Alfred Lamert Dickens (1822-1860) Dickens' younger brother, a civil engineer and sanitary inspector. When Alfred died in 1860 Charles helped support his family.
Augustus Dickens (1827-1866) Dicken's' youngest brother. Dickens' helped Augustus get a job with a shipping merchant in London. Augustus' wife became blind and he left her and went to America with another woman with whom he lived as man and wife. He died at age 39 in Chicago and Charles gave support to both wives.
In 1833, now very much the young man about town, Dickens wrote his first story, A Dinner at Poplar Walk, in the Monthly Magazine. Asked by the editor to contribute more, under the name Boz, Dickens wrote a series of pieces that were collectively published in 1836 under the title Sketches by Boz. This was succeeded by the enormously successful Pickwick Papers, which was written as a serial in 1836-1837. Before the age of 30, Dickens was now rich and famous. Two days after the publication of Pickwick, Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, who was a daughter of a fellow journalist. He said of her, “she had not a fault,” but later when they separated in 1858, he admitted, “She is amiable and complying but nothing on earth would make her understand me.”
Catherine (Hogarth) Dickens (1815-1879) - Dickens' wife, with whom he fathered 10 children. She was born in Scotland on May 19, 1815 and came to England with her family in 1834. Catherine was the daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle where Dickens was a young journalist.
Catherine's engagement ring presented by Charles Dickens
They were married on April 2, 1836 in St. Luke's Church, Chelsea and honeymooned in Chalk, near Chatham.
Dickens found Catherine an increasingly incompetent mother and housekeeper and seemed to blame her for the birth of their 10 children. Their separation, in 1858, was much publicized and rumors of Dickens' unfaithfulness abounded, which he vehemently denied in public. Dickens and Catherine had little correspondence after the break, Catherine moving to a house in London with oldest son, Charley, and Dickens retreating to Gad's Hill in Kent with Catherine's sister, Georgina, and all of the children, except Charlie, remaining with him. On her deathbed in 1879 she gave her collection of Dickens' letters to daughter Kate instructing her to "Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once".
Mary Scott Hogarth (1819-1837) - Catherine's sister moved into the Dickens' household in 1836, shortly after the marriage. At 17 she took ill after attending the theater and died suddenly in Dickens' arms. Dickens was shattered and took a ring from her finger which he wore the rest of his life. She was the model for Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop. Dickens wrote the epitaph which appears on her gravestone: 'Young, beautiful, and good, God numbered her among his angels at the early age of seventeen."
Georgina Hogarth (1827-1917)
Catherine's sister joined the Dickens household in 1844 helping to run the household and raise the children. She remained with Dickens after the breakup of his marriage in 1858 prompting scandalous rumors. After Dickens' death in 1870 she remained devoted to his children and worked to retain the integrity of Dickens' reputation.
Charles Culliford (Charley) Dickens (1837-1896) - Dickens' first child, educated at Eton and studied business in Germany. Charley was the only child who lived with his mother after Dickens' separation with Catherine in 1858. In 1862 he married Bessie Evans, daughter of Dickens' former publisher, Frederick Evans, with whom Dickens had had a falling out. After a failed business venture, Dickens hired Charley as sub-editor of All the Year Round.
Mary, Charles, and Kate Dickens
Mary (Mamie) Dickens (1838-1896) - Dickens' second child, named for Mary Hogarth. She never married and remained with Dickens until his death. She published a book of memoirs, My Father as I Recall Him.
Charles , Kate, and Mary Dickens
Kate Macready (Katie) Dickens (1839-1929)
Dickens' third child, named for Dickens' friend actor William McCready. She had a talent for art and attended Bedford college. She sided with her mother in the separation of her parents and married artist Charles Allston Collins, brother of Dickens' friend, Wilkie Collins. Dickens felt she married to get out of the home after the separation. When Collins, sickly for years, died, she married artist Carlo Perugini. She later revealed her father's relationship with Ellen Ternan in Gladys Storey's book Dickens and Daughter.
Walter Savage Landor Dickens (1841-1863) - Dickens' fourth child named for English poet Walter Savage Landor. He was nominated for a cadetship in the East India Company and went to India in 1857 where he advanced to the rank of lieutenant in the 42nd Highlanders. He inherited his grandfather's problems with money and got into debt. He died of an aortic aneurysm in Calcutta, his debts sent home to his father
Francis Jeffrey (Frank) Dickens (1844-1886) - Dickens' fifth child named for Dickens' friend Lord Francis Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review. He went to India in 1864 where he found his brother Walter had been dead a month. He joined the Bengal Mounted Police, returned to England in 1871,the year after his father's death. He squandered his inheritance and later went to Canada where he joined the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police. He died in Moline, Illinois
Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens (1847-1872) - Dickens' seventh child embarked on a career with the navy which pleased his father very much. He got into debt, asking his father for financial aid which Dickens finally refused. He died at sea aboard the Malta.
Henry Fielding (Harry) Dickens (1849-1933) - Dickens' eighth child named for English author Henry Fielding. Henry was the most successful of Dickens' children. Educated at Cambridge, he became a lawyer, judge, and was knighted in 1922. Later he performed readings of his father's works and published books on Dickens' life.
Dora Annie Dickens (1850-1851) - Dickens' ninth child was born during the writing of David Copperfield and was named for David's wife. A sickly child, she died at eight months old.
Edward Bulwer Lytton (Plorn) Dickens (1852-1902) - Dickens' 10th child and named for English Novelist and Dickens' friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He joined his brother Alfred in Australia at 16 years of age. He became a Member of Parliament in New South Wales, never returning to England.
William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882) English novelist (Rookwood, Jack Sheppard) and influence on young Dickens Ainsworth brought Dickens into his literary circle that included Forster, Thackeray, and Carlyle
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) Danish writer and author of Fairy Tales. Dickens and Andersen admired each others work. Andersen visited Dickens at Gad's Hill in 1857 and overstayed his welcome (he was there for 5 weeks) after which the friendship waned. Dickens' daughter Kate later wrote that Andersen was "a bony bore and stayed on and on."
Maria Beadnell (1810-1886) Youngest daughter of a London banker. Dickens fell in live with Maria in 1829 and courted her unsuccessfully for 4 years as Maria's parents objected to the relationship. In 1855 Maria, now Mrs Henry Winter, contacted Dickens and his infatuation with Maria was briefly rekindled...until they met and he saw that the matronly Mrs Winter was not the Maria of his imagination. Dickens based Dora Spenlow (David Copperfield) and Flora Finching (Little Dorrit) on Maria.
Thomas Beard (1807-1891) Journalist and Dickens' oldest friend. Dickens and Beard were reporters together at the Morning Chronicle and Beard was best man at Dickens' wedding. Beard's younger brother Francis was Dickens' personal physician and was with him when he died.
Richard Bentley (1794-1871) Early Dickens publisher and owner of Bentley's Miscellany where Dickens served as editor. Their stormy relationship ended in 1840 when Dickens bought the rights to Oliver Twist which Bentley owned by a previous agreement.
William Bradbury (1800-1869) Partner in Bradbury and Evans, Dickens' printers when he was published by Chapman and Hall, and then his publisher when he broke with Chapman and Hall in 1844. Dickens then broke with Bradbury and Evans in 1858 when they refused to print his explanation for the separation with Catherine in their magazine, Punch.
Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz) (1815-1882) Dickens' major illustrator through most of his career. Browne took over the illustration of Pickwick after the suicide of Robert Seymour. Browne and Dickens developed an excellent working relationship and Browne took the nickname Phiz to complement Dickens' Boz. Browne would go on to illustrate Dickens' work for 23 years. Dickens' association with Browne cooled after the somewhat disappointing illustrations for A Tale of Two Cities. He never worked for Dickens again.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) English novelist and playwright (Paul Clifford-It was a dark and stormy night...) who, with Dickens, founded the Guild of Literature and Art. It was Bulwer-Lytton who persuaded Dickens to change the ending of Great Expectations from one where Pip and Estella part, to one where they apparently live happily ever after.
Angela Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906) Wealthy philanthropist for whom Dickens helped to find suitable charitable projects such as Urania Cottage, a home for homeless women, and support for the Field Lane Ragged School, which provided education to the very poor.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish novelist and historian (History of the French Revolution) and a major influence and close friend of Dickens. Dickens used Carlyle's work on the French Revolution as background for A Tale of Two Cities.
Edward Chapman (1804-1880) Partner in Dickens' publisher Chapman and Hall. Chapman was the more literary of the partners and it was he who originated the idea to issue Pickwick in monthly parts, a method which Dickens used throughout his career and contributed to his success.
Frederic Chapman (1823-1895) Cousin of Edward Chapman with whom he partnered after the death of William Hall in 1847. He took over the business when Edward retired in 1864.
George Cruikshank (1792-1878) Popular illustrator who became an early friend of Dickens, illustrating Sketches by Boz and Oliver Twist. Cruikshank also acted in Dickens' amateur theatrical company. Their friendship cooled when Cruikshank, formerly a heavy drinker, became a fanatical teetotaler in opposition to Dickens' views of moderation. Cruikshank later claimed that the idea for Oliver Twist had been his.
George Dolby (-1900) Manager of Dickens' reading tours in England and America from 1866-1870. Wrote Charles Dickens as I Knew Him in 1885
George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist (Adam Bede, Silas Marner, Middlemarch) born Mary Anne Evans, the daughter of a Warwickshire carpenter. Mary Anne wrote fiction under the name George Eliot and lived for more than 20 years with author,
George Henry Lewes (1817-1878), while Lewes was still married to another woman. Lewes was an old friend of Dickens and had been a member of Dickens' amateur theatrical troupe. Dickens enjoyed Eliot's first fiction, Scenes of Clerical Life, recognizing immediately that it was written by a woman. Dickens approached Eliot for a piece for his weekly, All the Year Round, in 1859 which Eliot had to decline due to other obligations. Both Eliot and Lewes were physically unattractive and Dickens privately referred to them as 'the ugliest couple in London'.
Frederick Mullet Evans - Partner in the firm of Bradbury and Evans, publishers of Dickens' works from 1844-1858. When the firm refused to print a statement by Dickens concerning his separation with Catherine the angry Dickens broke with the firm and went back to his original publishers, Chapman and Hall. When Dickens' son Charles married Evans' daughter Bessie in 1862, Dickens refused to attend the wedding.
Augustus Egg (1816-1863) Artist and actor in Dickens' theatricals for which he also designed costumes. He proposed to Dickens' sister-in-law, Georgina, which she refused.
John Forster (1812-1876) An accomplished journalist, biographer, and historian, Forster was Dickens' best friend, literary advisor, and biographer. Forster proof-read nearly all of Dickens' works in progress. A man of great common sense, Forster provided the frequently impetuous Dickens sound personal, literary, and business advise. Dickens relied heavily on Forster to take care of business during his frequent trips away from London. Forster was also one of the players in Dickens' amateur acting troupe. Forster was drama critic and later editor of the Examiner, putting him in the center of London literary life. After Dickens' death in 1870, Forster published The Life of Charles Dickens, drawn heavily on hundreds of letters from Dickens through the years and still the definitive Dickens biography although some facts about Dickens' life were suppressed. Forster also wrote biographys of Goldsmith, Defoe, and Swift among others
William Hall (1801-1847) Partner in the firm of Chapman and Hall, publisher of Dickens' works from 1840-1844 and from 1858-1870. Hall was the business expert in the firm, his partner, Edward Chapman, was the literary expert.
George Hogarth (1783-1870) Dickens' father-in-law, educated in the law at Edinburgh, he once served as legal Advisor to Sir Walter Scott. He met Dickens in 1834 when they worked together at the Morning Chronicle. Hogarth later edited the Evening Chronicle for which Dickens contributed articles. Dickens married his daughter Catherine in 1836.
Washington Irving (1783-1859) First American author to gain worldwide recognition. Dickens was an admirer and early Dickens' works were compared to Irving's writings. They met during Dickens' 1842 trip to America where Irving supported Dickens' views on international copyright. The relationship cooled with the publication of Dickens' American Notes, which was critical of America.
John Leech (1817-1864) Illustrator for the satirical magazine Punch, and for Dickens' Christmas books (A Christmas Carol). Also an actor in Dickens' amateur theatricals.
Mark Lemon (1809-1870) Editor of the satirical magazine Punch. Lemon contributed articles to Dickens' weekly Household Words and adapted several Dickens' stories for the stage. Dickens' and Lemon's friendship was another victim of Dickens' separation from Catherine, the two did not speak from 1858 to 1864 when they were reconciled at the graveside of mutual friend.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet and professor of modern languages at Harvard. Dickens met Longfellow during his first American visit in 1842 and the two became fast friends. Longfellow visited Dickens in London later in 1842 and stayed at Dickens' home at Devonshire Terrace, Dickens took Longfellow on a tour of the London slums. Longfellow visited Dickens in England again in 1856 and 1868 .
Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) Artist and close friend of Dickens early in his career. He painted several pictures of the Dickens family including the famous Nickleby Portrait, painted in 1839. He was commissioned to provide frescos for the rebuilt Houses of Parliament.
William Macready (1793-1873) Distinguished actor and manager of the Covent Garden theater. An intimate friend of the Dickens family, Macready took responsibility for Dickens' children when he and Catherine went to America in 1842. He provided Dickens with instruction in the amateur theatricals.
John Macrone (1809-1837) Dickens' first publisher (Sketches by Boz). After Dickens' fame skyrocketed be was able to buy out his agreements with Macrone. Macrone died unexpectantly at age 28 and Dickens helped to publish a book (Pic-Nic Papers) to benefit Macrone's widow and children.
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) American author and poet who met Dickens in Baltimore in 1842. Poe's admiration for Dickens' work was an influence on his own writing. The relationship ended two years later when Poe was slighted in an article about American Poetry written by Forster which Poe believed was the work of Dickens'. Dicken's pet raven, Grip, was the inspiration for Poe's poem, The Raven.
Clarkson Stanfield (1793-1867) English landscape and marine painter (The Abandoned) and friend of Dickens from 1838. Stanfield painted background scenery for Dickens' amateur theatricals and contributed illustration for the Christmas books (Battle of Life, The Haunted Man). Stanfield, a Catholic, was invited to illustrate Pictures from Italy but declined due to Dickens satirical treatment of Catholicism in the book. Dickens dedicated Little Dorrit to Stanfield.
Frank Stone (1800-1859) Illustrator and, from 1851 to 1860, a neighbor of the Dickens family. Stone contributed illustrations to several of Dickens' works (The Haunted Man, later editions of Nickleby and Chuzzlewit) and was an actor in Dickens' amateur theatricals.
Marcus Stone (1840-1921) Illustrator and Artist, son of artist Frank Stone. After the death of his father, Marcus was invited to illustrate Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend. Marcus later abandoned illustration to pursue painting.
Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd (1795-1854) Lawyer, Author, and Member of Parliament and supporter of Dickens' crusade for copyright protection. Dickens dedicated Pickwick to Talfourd.
Ellen Ternan (1839-1914) Dickens' mistress, an 18 year old actress that Dickens met in 1857 when he hired her, her mother, and sister to act in his production of The Frozen Deep. Dickens continued a secret relationship with Ellen until his death and was not known to the public until 65 years later. There is still much speculation about how intimate their relationship was.
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) English novelist (Vanity Fair, The Virginians). Dickens and Thackeray first met when illustrator Robert Seymour committed suicide during the serialization of Pickwick and a new illustrator was sought, Thackeray applied, unsuccessfully, for the job. Though never an intimate relationship, Dickens and Thackeray shared mutual admiration for each other's work. Thackeray was from a higher social strata than was Dickens and pointed this out on occasion. The two literary greats had a falling out over an incident at the Garrick Club in 1858 but were reconciled shortly before Thackeray's death. Dickens eulogized Thackeray in the Cornhill Magazine in February, 1864.
Wilkie Collins (1824-1889)
English novelist and journalist (The Woman in White, The Moonstone) whom Dickens met in 1851.
Dickens and Collins became fast friends, literary collaborators (The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices), and traveling companions (Italy, Paris). Collin's sickly brother, Charles, married Dickens' daughter Kate.
In March 1851 Wilkie Collins, then a law student at Lincoln's Inn, first met Charles Dickens, with whom he is still so closely associated that he has been called "the Dickensian Ampersand." A close friend of Dickens from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in 1870, Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. The two men met through a mutual acquaintance, the artist Augustus Egg. Dickens, having known the landscape artist and Royal Academician William Collins, Wilkie's father, invited the young man to participate in his amateur theatricals. In Dickens, Wilkie found an alternative to his strict patriarchal father. In Collins, Dickens found a relaxing companion with none of the dark, waistcoat conservatism of his other friends, and in April 1852, after Collins published "A Terribly Strange Bed" in Dickens's Household Words, the two became fast friends. By the time of Dickens's Guild performances in September, 1852, he regarded him with sufficient warmth to invite Collins to accompany him on holiday to Dover. The following year, Egg joined the pair on holiday across the Channel. Collins lectured Egg on art and hummed opera airs incorrectly and interminably. For his companions Collins narrated the tale of his twelve years of sexual experimentation. Ascending Chamonix, Dickens walked while the younger men were transported in "a rotten sedan chair." Collins was nevertheless delighted to have returned to Italy, the land of his childhood. From Genoa the trio took a steamer to Naples, from which point they prepared to ascend Mount Vesuvius. In Rome, Collins thoroughly enjoyed himself amidst the splendors of St. Peter's. By late November the trio were in Venice, where — to Dickens's chagrin — Collins dressed shabbily as they frequented the ballet and the city's numerous cafes.
In January 1855, as was his custom during the Christmas holidays, Dickens was eager to stage a "fairy play" for his children, this time his own adaptation of James Planché's Fortunio and His Seven Gifted Servants, starring "Mr. Wilkini Collini" as Gobbler. In the middle of June, 1855, in the children's schoolroom which doubled as a theatre at Tavistock House, Dickens and company performed Collins's The Lighthouse as an adult-oriented entertainment, and so Collins helped to set Dickens on the trajectory which would lead to the full-scale melodrama The Frozen Deep and a young actress named Ellen Lawless Ternan. By the end of August 1855, Collins finished almost five months' work on the play. In February 1856, Collins visited Dickens in Paris. That summer, Collins was Dickens's premier visitor at the pair collaborated on the writing of a new play for Dickens's amateur theatricals, The Frozen Deep, finished in draft by mid-September. Dickens then proposed a walking tour of Cumberland to furnish material for a travel article for Household Words. When both became lost in the dark and the mists as they were descending a mountain, Collins sprained his leg and had to be carried down by Dickens.
The old crew — Mark Lemon, Frederick Evans, Augustus Egg, John Forster and Dickens's aide-de-camp from Household Words, Wills, were all involved; Wills' wife, Janet, played the Scottish nurse with second sight. After a dress rehearsal on January 5, 1856, attended by Dickens's servants and various tradespeople, the amateur company gave four performances in Tavistock House to audiences of about ninety each. The reporters of seven London papers, including The Times, lauded Dickens's performance as the morose, self-sacrificing hero Richard Wardour (who would become the basis for Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities). On July 4th, Dickens and his company performed the play before Queen Victoria and her court, Hans Christian Andersen, and W. M. Thackeray. Arrangements were made to take the play to Manchester in August (21, 22, 24), but Dickens realized his female amateurs could not project sufficiently well to handle the vocal demands of the city's Free Trade Hall, so he enlisted three professional actresses: Mrs. Ternan played nurse Esther, Maria the romantic lead, and eighteen-year-old Ellen in the minor part originally taken by Dickens's sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth. In October, Dickens finally mounted a professional production at the Olympic Theatre with Henry Neville enacting his role; Wilkie for this version began changes to the script that would ultimately lead to larger revisions in 1866.
90 Gloucester Place
Throughout the next few years, Collins and Dickens collaborated on short stories such as The Perils of Certain English Prisoners for Household Words (Christmas 1857). Meanwhile, Wilkie's brother, Charles, had become romantically involved with one of Dickens's daughters, Katie. Charles Collins was a pious facsimile of his father; Katie was the member of the Dickens brood who most resembled her father facially. On the morning of 17 July 1860, Katie Dickens married Charles Collins at St. Mary's Church in Higham, near Gad's Hill. Katie was just 20, high-spirited; the groom, 32, was an introspective, gloomy minor painter and travel-writer. From the first it was apparent that Charles Collins's health was poor and that Katie was destined for widowhood: he died of cancer of the stomach in 1873.
When Wilkie first collaborated with and wrote for Dickens at the offices of Household Words, although only twelve years’ Wilkie's senior, Dickens had already amassed a lifetime's experience as a journalist, short story writer, and romantic novelist: he knew precisely what could be depicted in print, and what could not. Collins, in contrast, was a radical in psychological portraiture and realism: he was determined to explore (in Henry James's phrase) "the mysteries at our own front door." After breaking with the publishers of Household Words, Dickens founded a similar weekly journal accessible to all classes of readers, All the Year Round, in 1859. The first weekly serial instalment of Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White appeared in the same edition of All the Year Round as the last instalment of A Tale of Two Cities : 26 November 1859. By the time that Collins had finished writing the sensation novel in July, 1860, despite a mixed critical reception, it had considerably boosted the journal's sales. In volume form, the novel from its initial publication as a triple-decker brought out by London's Sampson Low, Son, and Company, in mid-August, 1860, broke all previous sales records for novels.
Collins's spare, lean prose lacked the resonance, the poetry, and the allusions of Dickens's. Despite the stylistic differences, throughout the 1860s Collins enjoyed a literary celebrity and an affluence almost equal to Dickens's because the Victorian reading public appreciated his subtlety of characterization, his realistic psychological portraiture, and his ingeniously involved plotting. For the elder novelist, plot arose from the interaction of deeply felt characters; for the younger novelist, an apparently random chance (in fact, Providence) outside individual characters’ control seems to animate and direct the plot. Together, Dickens and Collins wrote such Christmas stories for the annual seasonal issue of All the Year Round as A Message from the Sea (1860), Tom Tiddler's Ground (1861), Somebody's Luggage (1862), Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings (1863), and Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy (1864). In March, 1862, he fulfilled his last contractual obligation to All the Year Round with the serial publication of No Name, which Dickens thought extremely clever. Wilkie's sale of the novel's copyright earned him the enormous sum of £ 4,600. At this triumphant point in his career, Wilkie was compelled by a painful combination of gout, rheumatism, and laudanum addiction to visit continental spas in order to recover his health.
In April 1861, despite the fact that the publication of No Name in All the Year Round would run into 1862, Collins signed with Smith and Elder. However, periodically, Dickens lured Collins back, most notably for the serial publication of The Moonstone (1867). Although Dickens was a champion of social causes, he was less overt in his crusading in his novels than in his journalism, and part of his dissatisfaction with Wilkie's novels were that each had "a purpose." The poet Swinburn later summed up this propensity in the witty elegiac couplet that appeared in the November 1889 Fortnightly Review:
What brought good Wilkie's genius nigh perdition?
Consequently, after initial enthusiasm, Dickens was less sure of The Moonstone, even though its serial publication pumped up the circulation of All the Year Round more than any novel so far, including his own A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1861). However, Dickens's exasperation with both the best-seller and its author may stem from his growing dissatisfaction with his sickly and neurotic son-in-law, Charles Collins. Dickens confided in the actor Charles Fechter that, looking at his son-in-law across the dining table at Gad's Hill, Dickens thought to himself at this time, "Astonishing you should be here today, but tomorrow you will be in your chamber never to come out again." However, Dickens admired Wilkie's subsequent work, including the play that Wilkie wrote based on one of Fechter's ideas, Black and White (1869).
In the late 1860s, Collins began to decline in health, and his growing opium addiction and his peculiar relationships with Caroline Graves and Martha Rudd led to his estrangement from Dickens, who knew all the details of Wilkie's private life, just as he knew all about Dickens's extra- marital affair with the young actress Ellen Ternan.
Not surprisingly, in print as in life secrets and double identities held a fascination for both novelists. Wilkie Collins and his mentor remained estranged in the last years of Dickens's life. After Dickens's death in 1870, Collins remained a prolific writer, despite continued ill health. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, West London.
Wilkie Collins first became aware of opium at the age of nine. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a friend of his parents, and the young boy overheard the poet confiding his grief about his struggle with opium addiction to Collins's mother. Harriet Collins made the following reply: "'Mr Coleridge, do not cry; if the opium really does you any good, and you must have it, why do not you go and get it?"' (Hayter, 255). Collins later recalled that when his dying father's only relief was Batley's Drops, an opium preparation. At the age of thirty Collins began to experience intense neuralgic pains caused by rheumatic gout. His legs were badly affected, as were his eyes: a friend, Charles Kent, was shocked by Collins's appearance during an attack, saying his eyes "'were literally enormous bags of blood'" (Peters, 335). The writer increasingly turned to laudanum to ease his pains. Collins carried around a silver flask full of the opium preparation, and by the end of his life consumed enough daily to kill twelve people, according to the surgeon Sir William Fergusson (Peters, 336). For a great many years he suffered from rheumatic gout and this frequently affected his eyes with particular severity, causing him the most agonizing pain. On some occasions he was compelled to keep his eyes bandaged for days or even weeks at a time so that publishers' deadlines were met only by dictating to a secretary from his sick-bed in a darkened room.
Gout, a painful and potentially debilitating form of arthritis. This disorder develops after tiny, needle-like crystals of uric acid (a biological waste product) accumulate in joints, causing swelling and extreme sensitivity, sometimes to the point where even the slight touch of a sheet is unbearable. The same crystals may cause kidney stones if they accumulate in the kidneys.
Gout usually affects one joint at a time, most often the big toe, but sometimes a knee, ankle, wrist, foot, or finger. If gout persists for many years, uric acid crystals may collect in the joints or tendons and under the skin, forming whitish deposits known as tophi.
Gout develops after a combination of factors contributes to the buildup of excessive levels of uric acid in the body. Abnormally high levels of uric acid may result from a diet that is rich in purines, chemicals that are broken down into uric acid by the body. Purines can be found in anchovies, nuts, and organ foods such as liver, kidney, and sweetbreads. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, the body will produce too much uric acid regardless of diet. Gout can also develop when the kidneys excrete too little uric acid, which can happen in people with some types of kidney disease and in those who drink too much alcohol. In addition, obesity or sudden weight gain can cause elevated levels of uric acid. Some medications, particularly diuretics, also contribute to high uric acid levels. People at risk for developing gout include those with a family history of the disease and those with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or diabetes. Ocular manifestations include deposits of uric acid in the cornea, conjunctiva, and sclera. Chronic, recurrent, red eyes and it is very painful.
Charles Allston Collins (25 January 1828 – 9 April 1873 at 45 yrs old) Charley, as he was known to family and friends, inherited his father's nervous temperament as well as his artistic ability, and suffered from a chronic lack of self-confidence, exacerbated by religious scruples. Charles Collins was said to have been hopelessly in love with his model for Convent Thoughts. But Maria Rosetti rejected him. He became increasingly ascetic and introspective. In about 1856 Charles seems to have become entangled with an 'unsuitable' woman of unknown name. John Millais begged Holman Hunt to persuade Charles to give her up. In 1858 he abandoned painting, which he found an increasingly stressful occupation .
Convent Thoughts by Charles Collins, his most famous work
Maria Francesca Rossetti (17 February 1827 - 24 November 1876 at 49 yrs old) was an English author. She was the sister of artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as William Michael Rossetti and Christina Georgina Rossetti, who dedicated her poem, Goblin Market , to Maria. She was born in London. She was the author of The Shadow of Dante: Being an essay towards studying himself, his world, and his pilgrimage. (published 1871). Late in life, Maria became an Anglican nun. She was buried in the convent plot at Brompton Cemetery. In 1858 he abandoned painting and concentrated on writing contributing to Charles Dicken's Household Words and other magazines. Collins married Charles Dickens's daughter Kate in 1860, later designing the cover for Dickens' unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He had two successful books, New Sentimental Journey and A Cruise Upon Wheels. His most successful literary works were humorous essays collected together under the title The Eye Witness (1860). He also wrote three novels: Strathcairn (1864), The Bar Sinister (1864) and At The Bar (1866). For her going-away dress the bride wore black and Dickens, who felt the marriage was a disaster, was discovered afterwards sobbing into her wedding-dress. There were rumours, believed by the Dickens family, that Charles was impotent or homosexual. There were no children of the marriage and Kate later said she wished to obtain a legal separation and could have done so, but that her father would not allow it. Kate confirmed, towards the end of her life that 'he ought never to have married'. In the last ten years of his life Charles Collins was plagued by emotional problems, as well as physical illness finally diagnosed as stomach cancer. He died in 1873 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools, London, where his style was influenced by William Etty. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1847 to 1855 and was closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) from 1850. Collins was especially friendly with John Everett Millais, with whom he spent the summer of 1850 painting in Oxfordshire. Millais proposed Collins as a member of the PRB, but the nomination was found unacceptable by the sculptor Thomas Woolner, on the grounds that Collins did not seem to him to be interested enough in Pre-Raphaelite ideas. It seems that Woolner had som unknow antipathy to Charles Collins. The rejection angered Collins and the pettiness of the 'laws' instigated by the PRB would begin the unraveling of the group. Collin's rival candidate was Deverell who was not chosen either.
Barengaria's Alarm by Charles Collins, His first painting to show a Pre-Raphaelite style.
This depicted the wife of King Richard the Lionhearted noticing her missing husband's girdle offered for sale by a peddlar. The flattened modelling, emphasis on pattern making, and imagery of embroidery were all characteristic features of Pre-Raphaelitism.
Charles Allston Collins, A Deathbed Portrait by William Holman Hunt