The papers catalogued in this volume were collected by Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-94) and his son Edmund Smedley Yates (1855-1934). In the catalogue father and son are generally referred to by their initials (i.e. “E.H.Y.” and “E.S.Y.” respectively); in this introduction the father is referred to as Edmund Yates and the son as Smedley Yates, the name he frequently adopted to distinguish himself from his father. (Indeed, during his brief career as a professional actor, he generally used Smedley as his surname.)1
The bulk of the collection consists of 627 letters, postcards and telegrams. Of these all but a handful were written to or by Edmund or Smedley, or to or by other members of the family including their wives and Edmund’s father. The vast majority are autograph letters. All these items are indexed alphabetically (by author) in section A of the catalogue. Section B lists the items in the collection other than letters, postcards and telegrams, including a manuscript of Edmund Yates’s Recollections and Experiences, manuscripts of two shorter unpublished pieces, one by Edmund and one probably by Smedley, diaries that Edmund kept in 1878 and 1881, and autographs, scrapbooks, and cuttings from newspapers. Section C provides a chronological list of the letters, postcards and telegrams in Section A, an alphabetical index of all the people named in them, and brief biographical notes on the authors.
Edmund Yates was the subject of an earlier Victorian Fiction Research Guide (No 3, 1980; Addenda and Corrigenda 1982) and a fuller outline of his life and work may be found there. He was in his day a well-known novelist, a famous and controversial journalist, a noted lecturer and after-dinner speaker, an adept and admired comic versifier, and a moderately successful playwright. His best novels showed some originality and are still very readable, but he is remembered nowadays chiefly for his contributions to the development of journalism, particularly “personal journalism”, and for his friendship with Dickens, who became embroiled in the “Garrick affair” on his behalf (see below). He came of a distinguished and well-loved theatrical family and throughout his life retained close ties with many theatrical people, both professional and amateur, as well as with fellow members of the Dickens circle. His greatest achievement was the weekly newspaper the World, which he founded with another journalist, Grenville Murray, in 1874 and owned and edited for the remaining twenty years of his life (having bought Murray out after a few months). In its heyday the paper was widely read and influential, particularly in political, cultural, and upper-middle and upper class social circles.
Neither Smedley nor any of Edmund’s other sons achieved comparable success. A plaintive article in the World early in 1878, “What Are We to Do with Our Sons”, bemoaned the lack of job-opportunities for the sons of the middle class and suggested that they would have to follow the example of the aristocracy and stoop to seeking work in the City (23 Jan 1878: 7-8). In 1874 Smedley’s twin-brother Charley, then aged 18, had gone out to Japan to make his fortune with the help of a cousin of Edmund’s, Henry Brunton, who was working there as an engineer. After Charley found what looked like a promising opening, Edmund at least toyed with the idea of sending Smedley out to join him.2 But for whatever reason -perhaps because his health suffered – Charley was soon back in England, and a dozen, or even fifteen years, later he was apparently still far from settled in life. At some stage, presumably not long afterwards, Smedley too spent a short time in the east, but in India and possibly as a member of a theatrical company rather than in a business house.3 For although he may have tried other occupations first, perhaps at his father’s behest, it was clearly the family profession of acting that beckoned to him most persuasively. As the letters in this collection show, he pursued it doggedly for ten years or longer, both in London and in the provinces; but, with a growing number of mouths to feed and probably not much more than a handful of appearances in the West End to his credit, he finally had to give it up. Like Charley (his twin) , he had evidently begun helping out on the World some time before, presumably to make ends meet when no other employment was offering. They and other young men like them, educated as gentlemen, but unable or unwilling to study for one of the learned professions, were slow to find their feet during the long recession that began in the 1870s. Smedley seems to have joined the staff of the World on a regular basis, and no doubt a salary, about the time he left the stage. In 1891, with his father’s support, he established a sixpenny monthly magazine, Groombridge’s, but it lasted for only three numbers. From December 1891 to October 1892 he edited a weekly theatrical paper, the Players, before it too collapsed. Following their father’s death in 1894 both he and Charley probably worked fulltime for the World while it could still support them, or until it was sold in 1905. Smedley continued to work as a journalist subsequently.
The collection that is here catalogued was acquired by the University of Queensland Library in 1982, from Smedley’s granddaughter Mrs Rosemary Kaplan. It includes some, but only a small fraction, of the manuscript letters that came into Edmund Yates’s possession following the death of his mother in 1860, eighteen years after that of his father; others, including many of those which he listed or quoted in his Recollections and Experiences (see especially vol 1, pp 19-20), were sold just after his death, or later. A number of the letters collected by Edmund himself had also been sold earlier. Most of those which he evidently regarded as the most interesting were put into an album that he purchased in 1863. When this was sold after his death, under the title “Gathered Leaves from the Walks of Literature, Art, Science and the Stage, collected by Edmund Yates”, it contained 151 autograph letters (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge sale catalogue, 21 Jan 1895, item 189). It was again sold at Sotheby’s in 1959. Its contents, removed from the album, are now in the University of Kentucky Library. They include three Dickens letters (two to Edmund’s father about dramatizations of early Dickens novels, and one to Edmund himself agreeing to stand as godfather to Smedley’s twin-brother), as well as letters of Scott, Thackeray, Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Henry James, Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Longfellow, whitman, Robert Browning, Swinburne, Grimaldi, Edmund Kean, Macready, Henry Irving, Mme Taglioni, and many others.
Several hundred more letters that were originally collected by Edmund were in the possession of a man called Alexander Meyrick Broadley by 1910.4 Broadley used these and other autograph letters, including a number from Edmund to himself, to “extra-illustrate” (or “grangerize”) a copy of Recollections and Experiences, extending it from two volumes to seventeen (Broadley, Notes on Autographs [London: Fisher Unwin, 1910]: 233). Most of the letters were presumably bought by Broadley after Edmund’s death. According to the catalogue for the auction at which Broadley’s extraillustrated volumes were sold in 1917, they included letters by Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Carlyle, Mme Taglioni,5 Landor, Disraeli, Macaulay, Pierce Egan, Cruikshank, Anton Rubenstein, Rachel, Jenny Lind, the late Queen and the erstwhile Prince of Wales (Hodgson and Co sale catalogue, 15 Dec 1917, Item 698). Broadley’s extra-illustrated edition has not been traced. But a four-volume extra-illustrated edition – also untraced -which was auctioned in December 1925 may conceivably be the remains of Broadley’s, after most of its treasures, including the Dickens letters, had been removed but not, for example, the letters of Macaulay and Mme Taglioni, or the three letters by Edmund himself (American Art Association catalogue, 11 Dec 1925). Yet another extra-illustrated edition, also in four volumes, was bequeathed to Cornell University Library – where it still reposes – by an American collector, Benno Loewy. This includes two letters by Edmund and two by Sala. But there is nothing to connect it with Broadley’s edition.
Edmund also had a separate album of 34 Dickens letters, “Selection from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Edmund Yates, 1854 to 1870”. This too was sold at Sotheby’s the year after his death, bringing a higher price in fact than the much larger 1863 album. It appears to have been bought on behalf of an American collector, Ogden Goelet, and remained in the Goelet Library until 1933, when it was stolen. After being recovered it was sold, at an auction conducted by the American Art Association, to the Swiss collector Alain de Suzannet in 1935 (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge catalogue, 21 Jan 1895, item 200; the Dickensian 30 [Dec 1933]:15 and 31 [Spring 1935]:81). It now contains 31 letters and is at Princeton University Library.
Another item offered for sale when Edmund’s library was dispersed after his death was “My First Album”, made up of cuttings, extracts from manuscripts, and other material (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge catalogue, 22 Jan 1895, item 472). This has not been traced.
Finally, Edmund owned a collection of letters and autographs assembled by the famous chef Alexis Soyer (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge catalogue, 21 Jan 1895, item 190). This had almost certainly been in the possession of George Augustus Sala who had worked closely with Soyer in the early 1850s and was a noted gourmet and amateur chef himself. Edmund may have bought it on one of the occasions when Sala, one of his closest friends, was sold up after going bankrupt. This collection, too, may have been acquired by A.M. Broadley, who extra-illustrated a copy of Sala’s Life and Adventures as well as Edmund’s Recollections.
Of the letters collected by Edmund which remained in the family and were augmented by Smedley, several were apparently disposed of before the University of Queensland Library acquired the collection. These include three letters from Robert Browning to Edmund (30 Jan 1879, 19 Feb 1879, 22 Apr 1879), another from Browning to Edmund’s wife, Louisa Katherine (14 Nov 1882), and a postcard from Bernard Shaw to Smedley (9 Nov 1911). (A further letter from Browning to Edmund was apparently overlooked and remains in the collection.) Other letters were put on sale by Stanley Gibbons but were returned to the family unsold: two from J.M. Barrie (18 Feb 1891, 21 Sept 1891), one from Conan Doyle (8 June 1892), three from Lillie Langtry (n.d.; two early 1885), one from Ellen Terry (29 Jan 1897), two from Edward Terry (mistakenly attributed to Ellen Terry; 29 July 1890, 1 Aug 1890), and one from Lord Palmerston (14 May 1842); all of these except the last were addressed to Smedley. Three autographs – of Lord Charles Beresford, H. Price Hughes and H.M. Stanley – were also offered for sale, unsuccessfully. It is possible that other items in the collection may have been disposed of: for example, Edmund certainly received letters from Wilde and Whistler and is unlikely not to have kept them. (Four of his letters to Wilde are in the Harvard University Library.) He must also have had many letters from William
Archer and at least a few from Bernard Shaw, both regular contributors to the World, and although he may not have foreseen how famous the writers would become it would be surprising if he did not keep some of their letters. (Archer kept many of Edmund’s to him: they are now in the British Library.)
The 627 letters and telegrams and the other items remaining in the collection nevertheless constitute a valuable resource for the student of British social life, literature, journalism and theatre during the last four decades of the nineteenth century.
In the remainder of this introduction an attempt will be made to give some idea of the richness and variety of the collection, beginning with the letters and telegrams. These can be divided into a number of groups.
1. Letters of George Augustus Sala. There are 170 of these, nearly all addressed to Edmund Yates or his wife. After the death of J.T. Delane (from whom there are five letters among the Edmund Yates Papers) Sala probably ranked with William Howard Russell as the best-known journalist in England. He was a prolific leader-writer for the Daily Telegraph from 1857 until 1895 – one of the “Young Lions” mocked by Matthew Arnold in the preface to his first series of Essays in Criticism and in his Friendship’s Garland. From 1860 till 1865 and again from 1874 to 1887, he generally contributed the column “Echoes of the Week” to the Illustrated London News when he was in England. In his youth he was regarded as the moving spirit of London’s literary-journalistic Bohemia and he remained notorious for his Bohemian proclivities, especially his drunkenness and improvidence, throughout his life. He first made his name as a contributor to Household Words and like Edmund Yates became known as one of “Dickens’s young men”, although personally he was never as close to Dickens as Yates was. Thackeray also admired his work and recruited him to the staff of the Cornhill when it began publication in 1860. Dickens had sent him to Russia in 1856 and from the early 1860s he frequently acted as foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in America and all over Europe (including Russia); one extended trip, in which he gave paid lectures to the colonials as well as sending his reports to the Daily Telegraph, took him as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.6 His journalism and his five novels are marked by a more-than-Dickensian wordiness and descriptive lavishness, as well as a pedantic delight in displaying his abstruse knowledge and cosmopolitanism. In convivial company he was evidently a great raconteur and, when not too deep in his cups, a lively after-dinner speaker. His letters are an unrivalled source of irreverent and uninhibited comment on topical events and people during the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. Their wit and humour are more succinct, and sometimes more bawdy, than that of his published writings, and they offer startling glimpses of his own wayward private life and to some extent that of his friends (including Edmund himself). They also provide an incomparable view, from the inside, of the hectic, precarious, dog-eat-dog existence of even the most successful mid-Victorian journalists. In view of their bulk and their special interest they have been transcribed and annotated to make a separate Victorian Fiction Research Guide, a double-volume (Nos 19-20).
2. Letters to Edmund about his Recollections and Experiences (1884). Most of these, as one would expect, are highly and perhaps predictably appreciative, praising the book’s accuracy, elegance, fair-mindedness, and astonishing powers of recall. (It is arguably the best and most interesting of Edmund’s many books.) Some of the letters in this group do however shed new light on biographical matters or on events in the public arena. There are, for example, a few letters from people old enough to remember, and to recall, Edmund’s parents on stage: his mother had been a leading comic actress, who also played more serious Shakespearean roles, and his father actor-manager of the Adelphi Theatre in the 1820s, 1830s and early 1840s. One letter-writer, the music publisher William Chappell, had known Yates’s mother, Bessy Brunton, before her marriage and had a friend who had told him about her first stage appearances, in Norwich, seventy or so years earlier. Lord Bury wrote to express his delight at the memories of London amusements thirty or forty years ago which Edmund’s book had revived; he also claimed to be able to confirm a story that Edmund had got from his mother but was dubious about, to the effect that Walter Scott had said “desultory reading” had been the curse of his life. Another letter, from Thomas William Keith, who had been at Highgate School with Edmund in the 1840s (and still addressed him as “My dear Ned”), agreed to some extent with his disparaging comments on the headmaster, Dr J.B. Dyne, but demurred at such epithets as “narrow minded, priggish and conventional” and told him that the old man had been pained by them. Dickens’s sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth wrote to thank Edmund for her presentation copy of Recollections and Experiences; she was particularly looking forward to reading “one part” of it (the Dickens chapter). To Miss Hogarth he was still “Dear Edmund” as he had been back in his twenties, when Dickens had stood godfather to one of his sons (Smedley’s twin) and Dickens’s daughter Kate had fallen in love with him – or was said long afterwards to have done so.7 Sir John Tilley, Anthony Trollope’s brother-in-law, an erstwhile senior colleague of both Trollope’s and Edmund’s at the Post Office, wrote casting doubt on the accuracy of some of Edmund’s memories of happenings there; but far from objecting to the not very flattering light in which he himself was recalled he sent Edmund an anecdote which he thought illustrated his “grim humour” better than Edmund’s had done. Louis J. Jennings, MP, a longtime member of the Garrick Club and distinguished editor of the New York Times, wrote to applaud Edmund’s balanced and unrecriminatory account of his (Edmund’s) expulsion from the Club at Thackeray’s insistence, the unhappiest and most controversial event in his early public career. Though writers on Thackeray and Dickens have persisted in believing otherwise, Jennings, who was presumably impartial in the matter, clearly felt that Edmund had been harshly and unfairly treated and had fully vindicated himself. And Anne Benson Procter, widow of the poet Barry Cornwall, mother of another dead poet, Adelaide Anne Procter, and close friend of Dickens, wrote full of praise for the equanimity of Edmund’s recollections, which she contrasted with the bitterness of Carlyle in Froude’s biography. She remembered having pleaded with Thackeray not to hound Edmund out of the Garrick Club, and having heard Dickens complain about John Forster’s boorishness (“He never really liked him”) just before Dickens’s death.
3. Letters and telegrams congratulating Edmund on his release from Holloway Gaol in March 1885. These too form a discrete group, less interesting for their sentiments – which are for the most part predictable – than for what they tell us about the very wide range of Edmund’s friends and well-wishers and the depth and breadth of public sympathy for him in his degrading plight. He had been imprisoned for publishing a criminal libel in his paper the World, but as everyone knew he had not actually written the offending story himself and had probably not even intended to publish it. The story had hinted at the dalliance and subsequent elopement – from the hunting-field – of an unnamed Lord and young lady at a time when the Lord’s wife was at home sick. Lord Lonsdale, who recognized himself as the Lord in question, sued for libel and refused to accept Edmund’s retraction, even though he and all his friends were fully aware that the real culprit, Lady Stradbroke, had in effect planted the story on Edmund yet would escape scotfree. Earlier, Edmund had heeded a request from the Lonsdale family solicitors to refrain from printing any of the scandalous details of the death of the former Earl, the elder brother of the present one. But neither this piece of gentlemanly forbearance nor the fact that the World was by no stretch of the imagination a scandal sheet told in Edmund’s favour when he came to trial. On the contrary the conservative press gloated over his predicament and Lord Chief Justice Coleridge singled him out for obloquy as the archetype of the muckraking modern journalist. Even his enemies were inclined to regard the sentence of four months’ imprisonment that was handed down by Coleridge and his colleagues as excessively savage. But his appeal against it failed and he was immured in Holloway in January 1885. Adverse reports on the state of his health began to appear almost immediately, but appeals for his early release went unheeded until he had served seven weeks of his sentence. While in prison he had the privileges of a first-class misdemeanant and, with a train of journalists in tow, he had ordered furniture for his cell at Maples before commencing his sentence. But once in gaol he clearly began to suffer both mentally and physically. His right-hand man on the World, Thomas Hay Sweet Escott, who was also editor of the Fortnightly, had the ear of many of the leading Liberal politicians of the day, from Gladstone down, but his political representations on Edmund’s behalf seemed to Edmund painfully slow in bearing fruit. Joseph Chamberlain, whose policies the World had championed for some time, was the only senior member of the government who wrote congratulating him when he was eventually released, or at any rate the only one whose letter is in the collection. Chamberlain’s letter makes it clear that he knew Edmund and his wife socially. Old friends who wrote or sent telegrams included Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Francis Burnand (the editor of Punch) and his wife, Squire and Marie Bancroft, Edward F. Smyth Pigott (the licenser of plays), John Hollingshead (proprietor of the Gaiety Theatre), fellow-journalists such as Archibald Forbes, Arthur Griffiths and J.C. Parkinson, Lord Brabourne (who chaired a celebratory dinner for Edmund at the criterion Hotel on 30 May 1885), and Lord and Lady Londesborough (famous aristocratic patrons of the theatre).
4. Letters to Edmund relating to his editorship of the World and his earlier journalistic activities. Before founding the World in 1874 Edmund had edited a number of minor, mainly shortlived journals and two major ones: Temple Bar (1863-7) and Tinsley’s Magazine (1867-9). But he kept relatively little correspondence associated with his editorial functions until after the foundation of the World: it may be surmised that Smedley, who by then was eighteen, persuaded his father to begin keeping more of the letters he received from well-known people and offered to take care of them. The only pre-1874 letters in the collection that were addressed to Edmund in his editorial capacity are three – all written in 1864 -from Mary Elizabeth Braddon, author of Lady Audley’s Secret and common-law wife of the proprietor of Temple Bar. He reproduced parts of two of these in his Recollections and Experiences and obviously regarded them as possessing special literary interest and stylistic merit. In the first five years of his editorship of the World, however, he kept the letters of a number of people who were the subject of news stories or reviews in that paper: for example John Forster, Dickens’s biographer; J.T. Delane, the ageing and ailing editor of the Times; Abraham Hayward, the famous essayist and friend of the great; and George Henry Lewes, a man Edmund had long known and admired (who wrote in response to a story about George Eliot). Later he kept interesting and characteristic letters from Millais, a friend since the 1850s, who took exception to pars in the World aspersing his grammar and attacking the part he (and some fellow-artists) had played in the Belt v Lawes case; from Sir Charles Dilke, whose Liberal-imperialist position the World supported until the mideighties but who feared that he personally had fallen from favour; from Lord Blandford, soon to become Duke of Marlborough, and later to figure as a witness in the notorious Campbell divorce case, who successfully appealed to Edmund to print nothing about his wife’s suit for divorce, for the sake of his parents; from Anne Benson Procter (again), who recalled the night, more than twenty years ago, when she had accused Tennyson of stealing the subject of Enoch Arden from her daughter; and from E.F.S. Pigott, who strenuously, and successfully, urged Edmund to oppose Harry Quilter’s campaign for a memorial to Wilkie Collins, just after Collins’s death in 1889.
5. Letters to Edmund from fellow-journalists, chiefly on journalistic matters. Apart from the very large group of such letters from George Augustus Sala, and the smaller group from J.T. Delane, already mentioned, the collection includes several amusing letters from Francis Burnand, editor of Punch and a very close friend, one letter from Antonio Gallenga, a celebrated journalist in his day, one from William Howard Russell, of Crimea fame, one from the notorious Lady Colin Campbell who wrote for the World under the pseudonyms “Q.E.D.” and “Vera Tsaritsyn”, and several from Thomas Hay Sweet Escott. (Seventy-seven letters from Edmund and his wife Louisa to Escott are in the British Library.)
6. Letters to Edmund and Smedley on theatrical topics. These comprise one of the largest and most interesting groups. Not only was Edmund the scion of a famous theatrical family, a reviewer of plays (at least until the mid-1870s), and a minor playwright (until 1868), but Smedley and his wife (Clara Cavalier) were both professional actors in the late 1870s and the 1880s, occasionally receiving quite favourable notices when they appeared in the West End. For a time Smedley’s career was obviously helped to some extent by his father’s friendship with actors, managers, playwrights and theatre-owners such as Squire and Marie Bancroft, Dion Boucicault, J.B. Buckstone (who had been a friend of and collaborator with his father back in the 1830s and 1840s), Francis Burnand, Ada Cavendish, Winifred Emery (later Winifred Maude), Vivienne Fullerton, John Hollingshead, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, Lillie Langtry, and Nat and R.H. Wyndham. There are letters from all these in the collection (and from Irving’s secretary Bram Stoker) , as well as from other theatrical folk from whom Smedley sought employment, notably May Fortescue, Arthur Wing Pinero, J.L. (Laurence) Toole, and H. Beerbohm Tree. Subsequently, in 1891 and 1892, Smedley corresponded with a number of well-known theatrical people in connexion with the Players, a shortlived weekly that he edited: among these, there are letters from J.M. Barrie, Sydney Grundy, John Hollingshead, Henry Irving, Jerome K. Jerome, Fred Leslie, and Clement Scott (the Daily Telegraph’s drama critic). The collection includes letters from William Archer, drama critic for the World from 1884 till 1905, to both Edmund and Smedley: these supplement the twenty-eight letters from Edmund to Archer in the British Library, confirming the excellent working relationship between the two men.
7. Letters to Smedley relating to his work on the World and other journalistic activities. Between early 1890 and early 1893 Smedley interviewed a number of the subjects for “Celebrities at Home”, one of the World’s best-known and most durable features. Among the Celebrities whose letters he kept were J.M. Barrie, Michael Davitt, Conan Doyle, Arthur Hughes, W.B. Richmond, Briton Riviere, Robert Romer, and Hamo Thorneycroft. In early 1891 he edited the monthly Groombridge’s Magazine, which lasted for only three months, and his correspondents in connexion with this included Walter Besant, Annie Edwards, Archibald Forbes, Jerome K. Jerome, Eliza Lynn Linton, James Payn, and Florence Warden. One of the letters to him from Linton, responding to his request that she write something for the magazine, opens with the words “I would do anything within the bounds of possibility for your father’s son” and later adds, in the same vein, “I have a very very strong affection for your father and mother, & if I could do their son the least good or pleasure I would”. Smedley continued to work on the World after his father’s death until a controlling interest in the paper was sold to Lord Northcliffe in 1905. The collection includes a letter to Smedley from Cosmo Hamilton, the editor of the paper at the time, expressing his bitterness over the sale.
8. Letters to Edmund concerning social engagements and business meetings. There are surprisingly few of these and most are of only minor interest. They include one from Robert Browning, regretting that Edmund and his wife will be prevented from visiting him – presumably to dine – by Mrs Yates’s illness.
9. Family letters. The most interesting of these concern Smedley’s marriage to the actress Clara Cavalier in April 1881 and the birth of their first son in February 1882. Edmund, in the blustering, bullying, never-darken-my-doorway-again style expected of Victorian fathers, did his best to prevent the marriage but quickly became reconciled to it. There are also a few letters to and from Edmund’s father, three touching letters from Edmund to Smedley when the latter was still a schoolboy, and other items.
10. Correspondence not connected with any member of the Yates family. This includes several items concerning the literary endeavours of two Jewish sisters, the Misses Moss, who lived in Portsmouth in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Among the correspondence are a card from Lord Palmerston (in the third person), a letter from a member of Queen Victoria’s household, J.[?S.] [? Wheatley], and a long letter (missing its conclusion and signature) from Bulwer-Lytton. A much later letter (written in 1930) from “Millie”, a daughter of one of the sisters, indicates that she sent the correspondence from Vienna, where she apparently lived, to a friend or relative in London, whom she addresses simply as “Edward”, to see if it was of any value. Edward may have passed it on to Smedley for advice and Smedley may have forgotten to return it, or may have been told to keep it if it was found to be of no great value. Another letter that has no ostensible, or at least no ascertainable, connexion with the Yates family is from [?]R.L. Harmsworth to a Mr Herbert Garland (25 Nov 1922). The letter has nothing to do with the earlier purchase of the World by the then newly ennobled Lord Northcliffe, formerly Sir Alfred Harmsworth.
Brief descriptions of the items in the collection other than letters and telegrams are given in section B of the catalogue. Some of the items significantly add to or modify received accounts of Edmund’s life and work: Disappointingly, however, none of them offers any clues to the solution of the principal mystery of Edmund’s literary career: the alleged “ghosting” of parts or the whole of several of his seventeen or eighteen novels by a fellow-novelist, Frances Cashel Hoey. The evidence for and against this allegation was considered at some length in the introduction to the bibliography of Frances Cashel Hoey issued as Victorian Fiction Research Guide 8 (1982), and the conclusion was reached that only the discovery of the manuscripts of some of the novels supposed to have been partly written by Hoey would settle the matter. While the Edmund Yates Papers include the manuscript of the autobiographical Recollections and Experiences, they do not contain the manuscripts of any novels. This may argue either that Edmund attached no particular value to his work as a novelist or that he had good reason for not keeping the manuscripts. The mystery abides.
Other miscellaneous items, notably Smedley’s scrapbook and a number of the cuttings from British and American newspapers and magazines, are useful not only for the biographical and bibliographical information they contain but also for the examples they provide of the hard, often humiliating struggle for existence on the stage and on the press in the 1880s and 1890s.
Peter Edwards, February 1993
- Smedley had three siblings: an elder brother, Frederick Henry Albert (“Daddy”); a twin-brother, Charles Dickens Theodore (“Charley”) ; and a younger brother, Arthur du Pasquier. [↩]
- Letter from Edmund Yates to Charley (i.e. Charles Dickens Yates) 4 Sept 1874. B.L,Add.Ms.59846E. [↩]
- His name and an address in India are pencilled on the title-page of his scrapbook (Item 684 in this catalogue), along with a number of different addresses in England. [↩]
- On Broadley, see entry in section A4 of this Catalogue. [↩]
- At least one letter from Taglioni was given, or permanently lent, to Edmund Yates by G.A.Sala. See Letters of G.A. Sala to Edmund Yates (Victorian Fiction Research Guide 20-21), Letter 448. [↩]
- See Judy McKenzie, “G.A.S. in Australia: Hot Air Down-Under”, Australian Literary Studies 15 (Oct 1992): 313-22. [↩]
- See Michael Slater, Dickens and Women (London: J.M. Dent, 1986): 186n34). [↩]