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Wilkie Collins Letter

An inventory of his correspondence at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Aug 1997

Biographical History

Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was a British novelist, playwright, and short story author. Over his career he wrote 27 novels, more than 50 short stories, at least 15 plays, and over 100 pieces of non-fiction work. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The single Wilkie Collins Letter was written in 1884 to American poet Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830-1866). Presented in 1944 to Balzac scholar William Hobart Royce (1878-1963), the letter reads in part:

We are living in a period of "decline and fall" in the art of writing fiction... In this country we have lately lost one of the "last of the Romans" — my dear friend Charles Reade. I look out for the new writer, among us, who is to fill that vacant place — and I fail to see him...Art as you have no doubt remarked, is above the operation of the ordinary laws of supply and demand. The influences which produce great — and I will even say good — writers, are entirely beyond the reach of human investigation. It may be hundreds of years, or it may only be hundreds of days, before another Fenimore Cooper appears in America, or another Walter Scott in England. I call these two — and Balzac — the three Kings of Fiction."

Arrangement of the Collection

Single item.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Collins, Wilkie, 1824-1889.
Hayne, Paul Hamilton, 1830-1886.


Novelists, American.
Novelists, English.
Poets, American.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Wilkie Collins Letter,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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