Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson, Graham Storey, and Nina Burgis (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 6: 1850–1852

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To W. H. WILLS, [?4–5 NOVEMBER 1852]

MS Huntington Library. Date: He was "fresh from reading" Mrs Gaskell's ghost story on 6 Nov (To Mrs Gaskell, that day); he must have received it on the 4th or the 5th.

My Dear Wills.

I don't think there's enough in Thomas's story.3

Miss Craik's (an improvement)4 will do perfectly for one of our ordinary Nos. We won't put it in the Xmas No. if we can get a better.5 Her imitation of me is too glaring—I never saw anything so curious. She takes the very words in which Esther speaks, without seeming to know it.6

I have not a shadow of a doubt about Miss Martineau's story.7 It is certain to tell. I think it very affecting—admirably done—a fine plain purpose in it—quite a singular novelty.8 For the last story in the Xmas No. it will be great.9 I couldn't wish for a better.

Mrs. Gaskell's ghost story, I have got this morning—have not yet read.10 It is long.11

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Notes

Editor’s Note
3 "Somebody's Story", a simple story of a German apprentice and his adventures in gaining his master's daughter. Despite CD's criticism, it appeared in HW, Extra Christmas No., Dec 52, pp. 7–11.
Editor’s Note
4 On her first story in HW, "The Three Sisters", 3 and 10 July 52 (v, 359, 384).
Editor’s Note
5 "My Fortune", appeared on 20 Nov (vi, 223).
Editor’s Note
6 The story, of a foundling brought up by an invalid girl, is told by the girl in the first person, in words and with sentiments remarkably reminiscent, as CD says, of Esther Summerson—especially in repeatedly referring to the adopted child as "my darling", as Esther does to Ada.
Editor’s Note
7 "The Deaf Playmate's Story", Extra Christmas No., Dec 52, p. 27.
Editor’s Note
8 It is the story of the misery suffered by a schoolboy who becomes deaf, and of his recovery in spirits when he accepts it; clearly based on Miss Martineau's own experience.
Editor’s Note
9 It was in fact followed by two others (the final one in verse).
Editor’s Note
10 "The Old Nurse's Story", Extra Christmas No., pp. 11–20: 1712 cols, twice as long as the next longest. For CD's unsuccessful attempt to persuade her to change the ending, see 6 Nov.
Editor’s Note
11 Wills endorsed p. 1 of the letter; "A Curiosity from him. No date | no signature | W.H.W."
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