This first group of letters illustrates Wilkie Collins’ relationships with his parents and his brother. Those at the beginning are written from school at Highbury, where he demonstrates his early independence by writing in Italian and rather shows off his knowledge of Virgil. He arrives late for school, slides in the frost, comments on the cold weather, enjoys making boats, and suggests to us that his teachers employ the carrot and stick method of teaching [1 December 1838]. Later ones [18 September and 28 September 1839] show Wilkie engaged in a schoolboy exercise, in copperplate hand, on benevolent despots and in a letter to his father [28 September 1839] he succinctly describes the Siege of Troy. Two letters in Italian [September and October 1839] to his “Mama” reveal what are to be constant concerns in his letters: the state of his eyes; his relationships with the opposite sex (in this instance he is merely “looking at little girls”); his health; and his love of food (“delectably luscious” cake). A rare letter to his “Papa” [December 1838] tackles a subject which was to occupy him greatly in subsequent years — the state of his brother’s health.
KeywordsGiant Killer Royal Academy Wednesday Morning Stick Method Nice Pair
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