hen, in April 1852, twenty-seven-year-old Wilkie Collins began writing for Charles Dickens's weekly magazine Household Words, Dickens at forty years of age was already a Victorian institution with a half-share in the magazine and an annual salary of five hundred pounds. While Dickens had an average annual income of anywhere from £1,163 to £1,652 from his work on the magazine, Collins was initially paid by the column. Although in September 1856 he finally became a staff writer who would be paid the standard rate of five guineas per week, Collins like his fellows George Augustus Sala and Elizabeth Gaskell was not given a by-line in this journal "conducted by Charles Dickens." Collins did, however (unlike the other staff writers) get his name into Household Words by way of the advertisements for one of his novels, The Dead Secret, serialised in Dickens's journal from January to June 1857, by which point Collins's talents had begun to establish him in the eyes of the Victorian reading public as an author independent of his connection with the weekly magazine. Together with other writers in Dickens's "stable," including Gaskell, Sala, Adelaide Anne Procter, Eliza Lynn, Harriet Parr, and Percy Fitzgerald, between 1858 and 1861 Collins collaborated with Dickens on extended short stories for four Extra Christmas numbers of the magazines Household Words and its successor, All the Year Round. The separation of Dickens's and Collins's identities as writers came in 1862, when Collins resigned from Dickens's staff; he did not work with Dickens again until the pair collaborated on "No Thoroughfare" for the 1867 Christmas number of the latter magazine. Immediately after this Christmas story in the magazine's pages came The Moonstone in serial, the novel that would forever establish Collins as more than a mere "Dickensian Ampersand."
1854: "The Seven Poor Travellers," in the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words (14 December) with Eliza Lynn, Adelaide Anne Procter, and George Augustus Sala.
1855: "The Holly Tree Inn," in the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words (15 December) with William Howitt, Harriet Parr, and Adelaide Anne Procter.
1856: "The Wreck of the Golden Mary," in in the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words (6 December) with Percy Fitzgerald, Adelaide Anne Procter, Harriet Parr, and James White.
1857: The Frozen Deep, initially performed in the converted schoolroom of Dickens's London residence, Tavistock House, on January 6th; "The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices" in Household Words (3-31 October); "The Perils of Certain English Prisoners" in the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words (7 December) without the assistance of other staff writers.
1858: "A House to Let" in the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words (7 December) with Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter.
1859: "The Haunted House" in the Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round (13 December) with Elizabeth Gaskell, Adelaide Anne Procter, George Augustus Sala, and Hesba Stretton.
1860: "A Message from the Sea" in the Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round (13 December) with Robert Buchanan or Henry F. Chorley, Charles Collins, Amelia B. Edwards, and Harriet Parr.
1861: "Tom Tiddler's Ground" in the Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round (12 December) with John Harwood, Charles Collins, and Amelia B. Edwards.
1867: "No Thoroughfare" in the Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round (12 December) without the assistance of other staff writers.
Lillian Nayder, Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Victorian Authorship. London and Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002. xi-xii.
Last modified 10 October 2005
Last modified 8 June 2007