COLLINS, Wilkie (1824-1889). Partly autograph manuscript of Rank and Riches (here 'Lady Calista; A Comedy in Four Acts and Five Tableaux'), a play, 90 Gloucester Place, London, n.d. [1882-83], a working manuscript, the majority a neat copy in a number of secretarial hands on recto, with extensive autograph cancellations and emendations, and redrafting on margins, on slips pasted over text and on verso, some inserted leaves wholly in autograph, Act I and some later passages present in two drafts, approximately 41 pages, 4to, wholly in autograph, altogether 200 pages, 4to (numbered 1-196 in pencil, some earlier foliations in pen), ff.1-56, 127-194 window-mounted (imperfect, ending in Act IV.iv, some slight soiling, occasional staining and wear to margins), 20th-century crushed brown morocco gilt by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, the upper cover lettered in gilt, border gilt fillets, gilt scalloped corner-pieces, the spine gilt in six compartments, lettered in two, roll-tooled gilt turn-ins (somewhat sunned). Provenance. Sotheby's 3-4 June 1891, lot 23 (catalogue entry pasted in).
A deftly-plotted melodrama of the high-minded but misguided Lady Calista, her well-bred suitor the Duke of Heathcote, an idealistic lawyer's clerk, a shabby refugee with a secret and a deranged lady's-maid. Lady Calista's affections swing between the duke and the clerk, buffeted by the interference of her snobbish parents and by her unbalanced maid's hopeless passion for the clerk; a misunderstanding arises from her well-intentioned visit to a socialist meeting; the mysterious refugee with a guilty past and a hint of a foreign accent holds the secret that will unravel the whole plot. Rank and Riches suffered a catastrophic first night at the Adelphi Theatre on 9 June 1883, and was swiftly withdrawn, effectively ending Collins's career as a dramatist. It was produced with notable success, however, in America.
The present manuscript is a combination of a number of different drafts: Act I is present in two versions, one of 17 scenes, one of 18 (numbered i-xix, apparently erroneously); the last page of Act III is present in two alternative versions; in a few other places, combinations of drafts result in dislocations of plot. Not in Barbara Rosenbaum and Pamela White, Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Vol IV, where four other drafts and transcripts of Lady Calista and Rank and Riches are listed. The play is APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED in either form.