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Emily Jolly

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Published : 7 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : N/A
Views : 3174

Novelist; daughter of a justice of the peace, Bath. Contributed to Hogg's Instructor, Chambers's, Blackwood's, Cornhill, and other periodicals. Author of fourteen works of fiction, e.g., Mr. Arle, 1856; Caste, 1857; Bond and Free, 1860; Safely Married, 1874. Edited The Life and Letters of Sydney Dobell, 1878.


Miss Jolly had not yet published a book when she sent her "Wife's Story" to H.W. Dickens wrote to her, July 17 1855: "... I have never been so much surprised and struck by any manuscript I have read, as I have been by yours". In the story, he wrote, "I recognise ... such great merit and unusual promise, and I think it displays so much power and knowledge of the human heart, that I feel a strong interest in you as its writer". " ... I believe you have a great fame before you if you do justice to the remarkable ability you possess .... ". Dickens thought the catastrophe of the story "un-necessarily painful", however, and suggested an ending that would, instead of hardening readers' hearts, "bring tears from many eyes". The story appeared in H.W. with the ending that Dickens had suggested.

At least three stories that Miss Jolly submitted to H.W. Dickens rejected. But "An Experience" he accepted for A.Y.R. with much enthusiasm. It was, he wrote to her, "a very special thing", a story that would "always stand apart in my mind from any other story I ever read" (July 22 1869). Dickens repeated the praise in a letter to Forster and in one to Percy Fitzgerald. Kitton's statement, however, that the story "suggested an alteration of plot" in Edwin Drood (Novels of Charles Dickens, p. 217) is a mlsconstruction of the passage in Forster's Life (Book XI, sect. ii) that quotes Dickens's comment on the story and on the novel.

Miss Jolly was evidently despondent about the reception accorded her first book, Mr. Arle. In a letter to her, April 10 1857, Dickens gave the book what praise he felt justified in giving and assured her that he had always heard Mr. Arle well spoken of. He felt that she had no reason for despondency and counselled her, in her writing, "to look into the life about you, and to strive for what is noblest and true". In the prefatory note to A Wife's Story, and Other Tales, Miss Jolly published three of Dickens's letters to her, to show "the great novelist's generous and helpful sympathy with younger writers".

Miss Jolly's novel Safely Married appeared in A.Y.R. under the editorship of Charles Dickens, Jr.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

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