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By the late s, Collins' health had declined substantially, in no small part due to his cavalier lifestyle.


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Topics: Charles Dickens.

The famous literary friendship between Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins began not in the world of the written word but on the stage. A mutual friend of the two, the Dickensianly-named painter Augustus Egg, connected Dickens to the younger Collins, who was a budding writer in his late twenties.

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By the time the two met inDickens was 39 and already famous. Collins, twelve years his junior, was years away from writing his most important work, but the two of them hit it off immediately. Charles Dickensmulti-hyphenate that he was, ran a weekly literary periodical entitled Household Words.

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Collins continued to contribute to the magazine, and four years later, was hired as a staff member at Household Words. Collins found both encouragement and career opportunities in his friendship with Charles Dickensand Dickens found a respected friend who leaned, to his delight, toward the bohemian.

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The pair became traveling buddies, sometimes prowling the seedy districts of Paris and London at midnight. In his friendship with Collins, Dickens could indulge his more adventurous and ribald side whenever he got tired of being the immensely proper and public figure that he was. Collins was frank about his sexual past, which Dickens took some interest in hearing about.

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In correspondence, Dickens often drifted into joyful, prurient innuendo. Crucial was the role Collins played during the dissolution of Charles Dickens's marriage.

Inthe pair went to see a play in London, in which a teenage actress named Ellen Ternan performed. Soon, Ternan would meet Dickens, and they would become lovers, an arrangement to which Collins was to some degree an accomplice.

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As collaborators, the theater proved a fruitful place for Collins and Dickens. Dickens helped the former on his play, The Lighthouse They later worked on The Frozen Deepwhich they wrote together and in which Dickens performed.

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On July 4, the author showed off his other talent to an appreciative audience, which included Hans Christian Andersen and Queen Victoria. The play also helped Dickens to solidify his relationship with Ellen Ternan. And it would not be the only romance to be facilitated by their friendship.

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It first serialized A Tale of Two Citiesbut being a somewhat short novel, it needed a new book to disseminate, and Dickens chose Collins's latest work, The Woman in White Collins had began to make himself a household name, and further impressed Dickens in the meantime. Both writers, who had produced some of their best work in close friendship to each other, helped forge what remains one of the most fruitful and illuminating artistic friendships of the modern era. A blog about books.

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