COLLINS, (William) Wilkie (1824-1889). Autograph manuscript of Memoirs of the life of William Collins, Esq., RA with selections from his journals and correspondence, n.p., n.d. [1847-8], autograph title, extensive autograph cancellations, emendations and revisions, 11 autograph sketches within text, approximately 159 pages, 4to, 206 x 165mm - 240 x 182mm (modern pencil foliations 1-109 and 1-10), disbound, window-mounted (offsetting of facing prints on ff.1, 19v, 20, 41v and 110); [together with:] William Collins (1788-1847). Autograph manuscript 'Common Place Book', n.p., 1 January - 1 February 1814, and autograph manuscript list of commissions received, n.p., 1845, together 5 pages, 8vo; [bound with:] 21 engravings after William Collins, 7 engraved portraits of William and Wilkie Collins, and 5 other printed items; dark green crushed morocco gilt, gilt fillet borders, the spine gilt in six compartments, lettered in the second, roll-tooled gilt turn-ins, silk doublures and liners, top edge gilt (extremities scuffed).
THE AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF WILKIE COLLINS'S FIRST PUBLISHED WORK. Wilkie Collins began work on his Memoirs of his father shortly after William Collins's death, putting aside work on a projected historical novel in order to do so. The result was published at Collins's own expense in November 1848, in an edition of 750 copies. The sales - one of the earliest subscribers was Charles Dickens - more than covered his costs, in spite of Collins's pessimism as to the chances of 'a book devoted to so peaceful a subject as the Art...I resign myself philosophically to await the event of my experiment' (letter to R.H. Dana, Letters, ed. William Barker & William M. Clarke (1999)). The devotion to his father's memory which inspired the Memoirs deprives them perhaps of critical penetration and any strong imprint of their author's character; but the work is unassumingly distinguished as a 'quiet and veracious record' (Walter de la Mare) of its subject, and Collins's reactions to his father's work achieve a number of fine descriptive passages of delicate nuance.
William Collins RA was a popular painter of both landscape and figures, best remembered for his depictions of children in works such as The Bird Catchers and Happy as a King.