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The Doom of English Wills [i]

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Authors Charles Dickens
W[illiam] H[enry] Wills
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Architecture; Building; Housing; Property; Landlord and Tenant;
Great Britain—Description and Travel
Great Britain—History
Great Britain—Politics and Government
Law; Lawyers; Justice; Courts; Trials
Religion; Religion and Culture
Religion—Christianity—Protestantism; Dissenters, Religious
Other Details
Printed : 28/9/1850
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume II
Magazine : No. 27
Office Book Notes
MemoCathedral Number One
Views : 1557

Dickens wrote the following portion of 'The Doom of English Wills': from the opening to 'concedes some obstructed search' (p. 2).
Dickens may also have written most, or perhaps all, of the remainder of the article. His hand seems especially apparent in the following passages: from 'Up a narrow stair' to 'from the rubbish' (p. 3); from 'But, other treasures' (p. 3) to 'papier mache' (p. 4); from 'Thus, then' (p. 4) to the conclusion.
The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, possesses a manuscript version in Dickens' hand of most of this article. The version which appeared in Household Words, with the exception of many minor changes and a few more substantial ones (see Appendix B [of Harry Stone, ed., Uncollected Writings from Household Words 1850-1859, Vol 1, Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968], is essentially the same as the manuscript up to the words 'concedes some obstructed search' (p. 2). After that, though the remainder contains some of the manuscript material, the two versions are quite different - the printed version being much longer. The details of Dickens' revisions and the strategy of the concluding elaboration may be studied in Appendix B.
Regarding this piece, Dickens wrote on 8 September 1850, to Wills:

I send you the beginning of our joint article on Cumming Bruce's theme. I have endeavoured to make it picturesque, and to leave the ground open for you ...
I don't like the name ['Ecclesiastical Registries'] I have given the subject. What do you think of The Fate of Wills, in England instead? Or something of that sort? If you will send the proof to me when you have done I will try to put a few lines at the end, so as to wind up with an effect. I think we shall make a great hit with the subject ...
Looking back to your letter, I observe that you speak of my letting you have 'the first article.' You understood, I suppose, that we agreed I should send you the opening of the first article for you to go on with?

It seems likely that Dickens wrote the entire 'first article' after all - though Wills may have supplied some of the facts and several of the paragraphs that went into the expanded last section: Dickens' massive share in this piece may have made Wills feel that it would be improper to include it in Old Leaves (see note to 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office'). In any case, 'The Doom of English Wills' (parts I and II) were the only full-fledged articles putatively by Dickens and Wills (as recorded in the Contributors' Book) that Wills did not republish.
For the second article on this theme, see 'The Doom of English Wills: Cathedral Number Two.'

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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