No. 20: Charles Allston Collins at 40

Charlie Collins.pngSurprisingly, there has so far been little study to use Charles Collins’s work on paper as the basis of critical discussion, and nothing which takes it as a primary point of focus apart from a single chapter which reported that Collins was ‘distinguished alike as artist and author,’ a gentle, shy and sensitive person perhaps unfairly consigned to oblivion, has little to say of an analytical nature. Continue reading “No. 20: Charles Allston Collins at 40”

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No. 14: Elizabeth Gaskell at 40

Elizabeth GaskellElizabeth Cleghorn (I kid you not) Gaskell turned 40 on 29 September 1850; in one sense this was the latter part of her life (she was only 15 years away from her death), yet at the same time, her life as a writer was only just beginning. Her first novel, Mary Barton, had been published just two years before, and the great works for which she would be long remembered still lay ahead of her. Continue reading “No. 14: Elizabeth Gaskell at 40”

No. 11: Leigh Hunt at 40

james-henry-leigh-hunt‘It is often necessary for a good journalist to write bad literature. It is sometimes the first duty of a good man to write it’ G.K. Chesterton once wrote, in a brief introduction to a collection of Charles Dickens’s journalism. He expresses in characteristically pithy fashion a central problem with literary journalism and its interactions both with the outside world, and with the world of art. Few writers grappled with this problem more resolutely than James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), who is an important and unjustly neglected figure both in nineteenth-century press history and in our literary history. Continue reading “No. 11: Leigh Hunt at 40”

No. 8: Mary Elizabeth Braddon at 40

Mary-Elizabeth-BraddonMary Elizabeth Braddon, born 4 October 1835, would lie to many of her peers in later years about her age (telling some she had been born later, in 1837), but the unavoidable truth is that the Queen of Sensation Fiction turned 40 in 1875, a time in which she was both subjected to and released from scandal, where she waved goodbye to editorial pressures, and continued a prolific production of novels, though not to everyone’s taste. Continue reading “No. 8: Mary Elizabeth Braddon at 40”

No. 4: Charlotte Brontë (not) at 40

Charlotte Bronte

The Brontë siblings were arguably some of the most influential writers of the Victorian era, but any discussion of the Brontës at 40 is somewhat hindered by the fact that not one of the Brontë children survived to the age of 40. But a writer’s legacy does not end with their life, and in Charlotte’s case, the 40th year after her birth heralded a dramatic boost to her reputation. Continue reading “No. 4: Charlotte Brontë (not) at 40”

No. 1: Charles Dickens at 40

Dickens 1852 cleanshavenIt was in February 1852 that Charles Dickens turned 40; this would be the year he would commence writing what many consider to be his most accomplished novel (and the only one to mention dinosaurs), Bleak House. Continue reading “No. 1: Charles Dickens at 40”