Charles Allston Collins

(25 January 1828 - 9 April 1873)

Painter and author, second son of William Collins, R.A. [q. v.], showed at an early age inherited gifts in art, which encouraged his father to permit him to study in the schools of the Royal Academy. On completing his education as a student, he attached himself to the once famous 'Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood,' and produced pictures which, after attracting general attention at the Royal Academy, took their place among the deservedly valued possessions of collectors of works of art. But it was in the modest and sensitive nature of the man to underrate his own success. His ideal was a high one; and he never succeeded in satisfying his own aspirations. The later years of his life were devoted to literature. In 1860, he married Kate, the younger daughter of Charles Dickens. He was the author of the series of essays (first published in All the Year Round) called 'The Eye-witness;' a work distinguished by subtle observation and delicate sense of humour. 'A Cruise on Wheels,' 'A Sentimental Journey,' and two novels, showing rare ability in the presentation of character, steadily improved his position with readers and gave promise of achievement in the future, never destined to be fulfilled. The last years of his life were years of broken health and acute suffering, borne with a patience and courage known only to those nearest and dearest to him. [Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11]


A younger son of William Collins, born at Hampstead in 1828. He first exhibited in 1847, and gave up the art in 1858. Among the chief pictures exhibited by him at the Royal Academy we may mention 'Convent Thoughts' (1801), 'The Devout Childhood of St. Elizabeth of Hungary' (1852), and 'The Good Harvest of 1854' (1855); which is now at South Kensinigton. He was also an author, and contributed to Household Words and All the Year Round, when the latter was edited by Charles Dickens. He also wrote (in 1863) A Cruise upon Wheels, a clever description of his travels, which met with a deservedly favourable reception, and several novels. He was a younger brother of Wilkie Collins tho novelist, and son-in-law of Dickens, for whom he furnished the illustrated title-page of Edwin Drood' His contributions to All the Year Round are amongst the most charming of his papers. He died after a long illness in 1873.

[Bryan's Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, 1901-2]

Charles Allston Collins (British) Born at Hampstead in 1828, son of William Collins, R. A., whose pupil he was. He devoted himself between 1848 and 1888, exhibiting at the Royal Academy; works of no little merit, but he turned his attention, over, finally to literature as a profession, painting nothing after younger brother of Wilkie Collins; and son-in-law, whom he furnished the illustrated title-page of Edwin Drood.

"Mr. Charles Collins had been bred as a painter, for success in which line he had some rare gifts; but inclination and capacity led him also to literature, and after much indecision between the two callings he took finally to letters. His contributions to All the Year Round are among the most charming of its detached papers, and two stories published "showed strength of wing for higher flights." -- Forster's Life of Dickens.

[Artists of the Nineteenth Century and their Works, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.]