URLs for Books

Your last ebook:

You dont read ebooks at this site.

Total ebooks on site: about 25000

You can read and download its for free!

Ebooks by authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 
Gilder, Joseph Benson / Trilbyana The Rise and Progress of a Popular Novel
(This book was
produced from scanned images of public domain material at
the Internet Archive.)



_Showing himself (smooth face) and Mr. Whistler (with eyeglass)._ (_See
page 14._)

PHOTOGRAPHER.--"_No smoking here, Sir!_"

DICK TINTO.--"_Oh! A thousand pardons! I was not aware that---- _"

PHOTOGRAPHER [interrupting with dignity]."--_Please to remember,
Gentlemen, that this is not a Common Hartist's studio!_" [N. B.--Dick
and his friends, who _are_ Common Artists, feel shut up by this little
aristocratic distinction, which had not occurred to them.]]


The Rise and Progress of a
Popular Novel




_This edition is limited to
250 copies, of which this
is No._ 194.

_It is many a year since a book has attained the popularity of Mr. du
Maurier's second novel, "Trilby" (printed as a serial in Harper's
Monthly, from January to August, inclusive, and then issued in
book-form, on Saturday, 8 September, 1894). Several others have sold as
well--some even better; but neither "Looking Backward" nor "Ben Hur" (to
name but these two) has captivated the public in the same manner or in
the same degree as this romance, this fairy-tale of the three British
artists, the blanchisseuse who posed for "the altogether," the Parisian
masters of painting, and the trans-Rhenish masters of music, in the
Latin Quarter of the early fifties. It is a story written out of the
author's very heart, and it finds its way straight to the hearts of his
readers. This is the secret of its unique success. Its charm is
emotional rather than intellectual. With all its art, it impresses one
as essentially ingenuous. It is a book to be loved, not merely to be
liked or admired._

_On 16 June, 1894, The Critic printed, with comment, a letter in which
Mr. Whistler protested to the editor of an English newspaper against the
libellous likeness of himself to be found in the character of Joe
Sibley, one of the minor personages in the story of "Trilby." In the
fall there were so many sporadic calls for this number of the paper as
soon to exhaust the supply carried over from the summer. There seemed to
be a general desire on the part of our readers to bind up the Whistler
letters, etc., with the text and pictures of "Trilby" as printed in
Harper's Monthly, the American artist's protest having led to a slight
revision of the story before its appearance in book-form. The hint was
acted upon; and two pages of "Trilbyana" were printed in The Critic of
Nov. 17._

_Though an extra edition was struck off, the call for this number has at
last exhausted the supply; and the present pamphlet, containing among
its many items of interest a majority of those that have found a place
in the columns of The Critic, may fairly claim to be issued in response
to a popular call._

_J.B. & J.L. GILDER._



"Trilby: a Novel" 1

Mr. du Maurier as a Draughtsman 4

"Trilby" on the Stage 8

Personalia 11

Mr. du Maurier and Mr. Whistler 15

"Trilby" Entertainments 19

Miscellanea 22

Songs 30

A Search for Sources 35

Nodier's "Trilby," le Lutin d'Argail 37


Mr. du Maurier's Monogram Title-page

Mr. du Maurier's First Drawing for _Punch_ Frontispiece

Portrait of Mr. du Maurier from a Photograph Face 16

Portrait of Mr. du Maurier by Himself 11

Portrait of Mr. Whistler 15

"Platt, the New Svengali" 25

Mr. du Maurier's House on Hampton Heath Face 27

"Trilby: a Novel"

_By George du Maurier. With Illustrations by the Author. Harper &

When "TRILBY" began to appear as a serial in _Harper's Monthly_, January
1894, Mr. Henry James prophesied that it would prove to be a
glorification of "the long leg and the twentieth year." The prophecy was
soon verified. At the outset, indeed, it seemed as if the glorification
were to be, not so much of the long leg, as of the large and shapely
foot. The whole story rested for a while on one of Trilby's feet. We say
one, for it was only one of them--the left one--that Little Billee
immortalized by drawing on the wall of the studio in the Place St.
Anatole des Arts; but they were equally perfect. As the young woman who
had the happiness of standing on this foot proclaims, kicking off one of
the big slippers in which she is introduced to us, "It's the handsomest
foot in all Paris: there's only one in all Paris to match it, and here
it is"--and off goes the other slipper. The sketch of it that proves
Little Billee already a master of his art is not shown till near the end
of the book; and neither this nor Mr. du Maurier's own portrait of the
_pieds nus_ on page 21 fully realizes one's notion of the thing's
unapproached perfection.

As we have said, the whole story rests for a while on one of these
handsome feet; but the novelist manages at last to free his neck from
the thraldom of the "slim, straight, rosy heel, clean-cut and smooth as
the back of a razor," and proceeds to gratify our curiosity to know
something about the strange being who poked about the studios in the
Quartier Latin in the early fifties, bare-headed, and wearing a big,
military coat with epaulets, which she could throw off when she posed
for the _ensemble_ as easily as she could kick off the loose slippers
when only her foot was desired as a model. It will be seen that Trilby
was not a woman of any social standing. Her father was an educated
Irishman, her mother (his wife) a pretty barmaid. They both were dead,
and she herself was a professional model.

Two things about her were equally marvellous: one was her foot, the
other her voice--an organ of surprising power, range and sweetness. No
less extraordinary, perhaps, was the trick that nature had played upon
her, by coupling so glorious a voice with an ear that could not
distinguish one note from another--could scarcely tell a bass from a
treble, and permitted her to sing so badly that her hearers either
stopped their ears, laughed in her face, or bolted from the room. The
American song "Ben Bolt" was the one she liked the best to sing, and
sang the worst. There was something else about her, almost as strange as
her beautiful feet, her magnificent voice and her defective (or
altogether lacking) ear for music; and that was the purity of her
character. She had had affairs with half a dozen men in the studios,
without really knowing that it wasn't the right thing to do. But her
heart remained spotless (so Mr. du Maurier assures us); and it is a most
unfortunate thing that Little Billee's mother comes tearing over to
Paris, leaving the peaceful dales and dairies of Devonshire behind her,
in her mad haste to break the engagement which Trilby has at last made
with the young English painter, after having repeatedly refused to do
so, notwithstanding her great love for him. Mrs. Bagot has no difficulty
in convincing her that she is no worthy mate for Little Billee; and she
accordingly runs away from Paris, heart-broken, and becomes a
_blanchisseuse de fin_. Little Billee's heart is broken, too; or if not
broken, benumbed; and henceforth, though he becomes a most successful
artist, and the pet of all London, he takes his pleasures and successes
sadly and listlessly, caring nothing for the wealth and fame that come
to him.

In the meantime a great _prima-donna_ appears upon the European stage,
and all the world bows down before her. Happening to be in Paris, Little
Billee is persuaded by his old chums, Taffy the Yorkshireman ex-soldier,
and the "Laird of Cockpen"--painters both,--to go and hear the prodigy.
Fancy their stupefaction at recognizing in the glorious singer the
tuneless Trilby of five years gone! No longer Trilby O'Ferrall, but La
Svengali, wife of their old acquaintance Svengali the Jew, who had
recognized the possibilities of her voice when he first heard it in
their Paris studio, and had afterwards captured her and cultivated it
and by his mesmeric arts trained her as a singer and even made her love
him as a dog loves his master. A day or two later, meeting him at a
hotel, Svengali spits in Little Billee's face, and gets his nose pulled
for his pains by Taffy. And then the great _prima-donna_ and her master
go to London; and Trilby breaks down in trying to sing "Ben Bolt," and
is hooted off the stage--Svengali's sudden death in a stage-box (unknown
to anyone in the house) having broken the mesmeric influence that has
made her a singer. She pines away, surrounded by her old friends the
Englishmen, and an object of solicitude to all Christendom; and after
her death Little Billee pines away, too, and no one is left but the big
ex-officer Taffy--with the exception of Trilby, the most attractive
character in the book. For Little Billee (whose sister he marries, after
the death of Trilby, whom he, too, loved) is, truth to tell, somewhat of
a prig, even after the sight of Trilby at the concert in Paris has
roused him from the unemotional state to which her flight consigned him,
years before; and Svengali is a beast, and Gecko is insignificant.

The text of the book is the counterpart of its illustrations, for Mr. du
Maurier writes as he draws--with infinite precision and detail. Nothing
is omitted that could possibly heighten an effect. Instead of flashing a
scene or a sensation upon you, he describes it and redescribes it,
heaping up the adjectives in masses. His art is a different art from
Kipling's, for instance, which never wastes a syllable. But the point to
be decided is not one of methods but of results; and as a whole "Trilby"
is delightful. It is a slow and laborious process by which the author
creates an impression and surrounds his characters with the atmosphere
he wishes us to see them in; but he does finally create the impression
and the atmosphere, and in so doing justifies his means. He has steeped
his mind in Thackeray, and so has had a noble master. Like "Peter
Ibbetson," his new story is unique. It is a book that could have been
written only by an artist--and illustrated only by the author; it is a
book, moreover, in which the man and the style are one.

In its present form the story contains certain passages not printed in
the magazine--notably, a brief disquisition on sitting for the nude. On
the other hand, certain passages have been altered in deference to the
wishes of Mr. Whistler, who saw in Joe Sibley, as described and pictured
by Mr. du Maurier, an unpleasant resemblance to himself. Not only has
the text been altered, but our friend Sibley is now called Antony, and
his hitherto unbearded face is adorned with a non-Whistlerian beard.
(See "Trilby," opposite page 132.) One picture has been omitted
altogether. It needed not the accidental advertising of Mr. Whistler's
threatened libel suit to draw attention to the book. It is its own best
advertisement, and has fairly earned the success implied in advance
orders so numerous as to cause the postponement until to-day (8 Sept.
1894) of the original date of publication.

Mr. du Maurier as a Draughtsman

It is hardly necessary to say that Mr. du Maurier's work as a novelist
is in no way matched by his work as a draughtsman, as exemplified, for
instance, in the 120 drawings for "Trilby," exhibited in December, 1894,
at the Avery gallery. Until he began to write he was known merely as the
author of innumerable caricatures, which had a certain vogue because
they were at the same time pictures of fashionable society; but even of
these the legend was often the best part. He had mastered many types,
but they were nothing more than that; and one had seen his millionaires
and swells and singing people and artists until one had grown rather
tired of them. Then, suddenly, it was found, with the first chapters of
his first novel, that in writing he could give to all these well-known
figures individuality, could make flesh and blood of them. The drawings
themselves, at least those done as illustrations for his two romances,
seem to have gained by that discovery. These do not appear to be the
same French blouses and English guardsmen. Something has got into them,
a touch of life, which they did not have before. Yet no one will say
that the Little Billee of the drawings now exhibited at Avery's gallery
is even a shadow of the Little Billee of the text. Of Trilby there is
not so much as the famous foot. Any schoolboy, almost, might have made
as clever a travesty of the Venus de Milo. The best presentment of the
gigantic Taffy is that in which he poses as the Ilyssus. The Laird o'
Cockpen is much better, being frequently very like Mr. George W. Cable,
particularly where he listens to Trilby's confession--an accidental
likeness, no doubt, but one that increases our respect for the Laird.
The intentional likeness of Frederick Walker, who is said to be the real
original of Little Billee, is vastly superior to the ideal one; and the
many unnamed figures in the more crowded compositions that appear to
have been sketched from the life or from a particularly vivid memory are
among the most amusing and enjoyable things in the drawings.

But it must not be denied that there is here and there a bit of _chic_
that approaches the ideal--something not easily to be discovered in the
artist's former work. Svengali is throughout a creation of this sort. He
is as grotesquely romantic, as Mephistophelian a figure in the
illustration as in the printed page. The only failure is the head (on
page 59 of the book) which is in more senses than one "as bad as they
make them." He is excellent where he laughs over the two Englishmen
cleaning themselves; he is delightful where he examines the roof of
Trilby's mouth, "like the dome of the Panthéon," "room in it for 'toutes
les gloires de la France.'" Where he stands in the midst of the crowded
studio, "All as it Used to Be," he looks every inch the artist, more so
than the "idle apprentice," lounging against the door-jamb. If there
were such a man, one who had sunk his whole soul in his art, he might
look like this, or like the same figure in the hussar uniform, a Semitic
conqueror "out of the mysterious East." There is a touch of the spirit
of the illustrators of the romantic period in the pictures of the
Christmas festivities, especially in the two that illustrate the
peculiar interchange of rôles between Little Billee and the festive
Ribot, and in the sketch of Zouzou as the "Ducal French Fighting-Cock."
The scenes of common life, too, are admirable, the free-and-easy, the
"Happy Dinner," the bargaining of the Laird with Mme. Vinard--"Je
prong!"--and the scene at the rehearsal where "The First Violin Loses
his Temper." The art of the drawings is all in expression and action,
and Du Maurier, in spite of all that is French in him, is thoroughly
British in this, and a descendant in the right line of Hogarth,
Cruikshank and Leech.

The "Trilby" drawings were bought _en bloc_ by some one in England. They
had been sent here to be engraved for _Harper's Monthly_ and the book;
the sale occurred before they were placed on exhibition in New York. A
representative of _The Critic_ asked Mr. Avery, who said that a number
of people had expressed a desire to buy some of them, what he thought
they would have brought, if sold over here. He replied that he could not
tell with any degree of accuracy, but he thought they would have
averaged at least $50 apiece. As there are 120 drawings, this would have
meant $6,000 more for Mr. du Maurier. _En bloc_, no doubt, they brought
a smaller sum.

A painting of "Trilby," by Mr. Constant Mayer, was shown at Knoedler's
gallery, in December, along with half a dozen other and more
satisfactory paintings by the same artist. The hypnotic condition of the
subject was declared by Dr. Allan McLane Hamilton to be admirably
suggested in this fancy portrait.

* * * * *


Those who express surprise at the sudden literary development of du
Maurier's genius do not apparently recognize the fact that the whole
series of his drawings has included the literary element. His thoughts
as expressed in art have always shown a close and philosophical
observation of life, an understanding of the actions and motives of men.
Every one of his illustrations tells not only an individual story, but a
story of surroundings and times, of tendencies, fads and foibles. And
the text is always as important as the picture; sometimes it is far more
so. Who can have forgotten the history and culmination of the "old
china" craze given by du Maurier in a four-inch-square illustration of
the young husband and wife examining an old teapot, with the exquisite
text, "Oh, Algernon, do you think we can ever live up to it?" Certainly
the man who could invent the application of that phrase must have stores
of wit and sense equal to the writing of many "Peter Ibbetsons" and
"Trilbys." And those stores were bound to find their larger expression
in literature.

NEW YORK, 22 NOV., 1894.


* * * * *

The New York _Tribune_ has printed the following protest against the
insinuation that the author of the book was not its illustrator also:--

"It ought not to be necessary for any formal contradiction to be made of
that absurd rumor which has just been set adrift concerning the
illustrations to 'Trilby.' On the face of it, it is impossible for
either Mrs. du Maurier or her daughter to have given the pictures the
character they possess. They have du Maurier's style, du Maurier's
technique, du Maurier's peculiar little touches of humor, not merely in
the broad idea but in that minute turn of the pen which makes all the
difference in the world between an empty profile and a funny one. It is
true that there is a dissimilarity between Trilby in one illustration
and Trilby in another, but it should be remembered that du Maurier's
eyesight has been failing him, that he has been compelled to be prolific
at a time when he has most needed to lie fallow as an artist; and, in
brief, the shortcomings of the 'Trilby' designs, if serious shortcomings
they have, are to be explained on the most natural and logical of
grounds. The intrinsic character of the drawings proclaims their
authorship. Only George du Maurier could have done them, and not any of
the trifling assistance which he may have received from his family in
matters of posing, costume, etc., could deprive him of his
responsibility or his honor. The recent tendency to criticise these
designs with some severity will soon be counteracted. As a matter of
fact, they present some of the cleverest work du Maurier has ever done."

* * * * *

The New York _Sun_ printed a letter, not long ago, in which the drawings
were declared to be anachronistic. "Why," it was asked, "should Mr. du
Maurier deny to his characters the crinolines, waterfalls, surtouts,
cravats, chignons, peg-top trousers and hoop-skirts of the early
sixties, and make them, despite Taffy's whiskers, of the _monde_ of
to-day? Is it that his artistic instincts have reverted to that fine
school of old masters who delighted to portray, saving Taffy's grace,
Hector fighting in the armor of the Black Prince, or turned out Madonnas
by the score in Margaret of Anjou skirts?"

* * * * *

In "Trilby" every stroke of pen or pencil seems to be significant. Is
there special meaning in the fact that, in the dainty tail-piece, one
glass in the spectacles appears to be heavily shaded, while the other is
clear? Is Mr. du Maurier, like so many literary people, afflicted with
partial loss of sight or other visual difficulty?



[Unhappily he is, and has been for many years. It is only with the
greatest difficulty that he is able to work with either pen or pencil.]

[Illustration: From "Trilby." Copyright, 1894, by Harper & Brothers.]

"Trilby" on the Stage

Mr. Paul M. Potter's dramatization of "Trilby" was produced by Mr. A. M.
Palmer's company at the Boston Museum on Monday, 4 March, 1895, and
achieved so great a success that several companies were immediately put
upon the road to play it throughout the country. Its first production in
New York, with the original cast, occurred at the Garden Theatre, on
April 15. Hundreds of people were turned away from the door for want of
room to accommodate them; and an offer was received from Mr. Beerbohm
Tree, the eminent English actor, for the privilege of producing the play
in England, where he himself wished to impersonate Svengali. It would be
a pity if the Lyceum company did not secure the English rights; for Mr.
Irving would make an inimitable Svengali, and Ellen Terry would be
Trilby without trying.

As nobody has ever succeeded, or is likely to succeed, in really
dramatizing a novel, it is not surprising that the stage version of
"Trilby" should prove in some respects unsatisfactory. It might be
thought that the book would lend itself readily to dramatic treatment;
but a little consideration will show that it offers peculiar
difficulties to the playwright, inasmuch as its chief charm is one of
manner, which cannot be transferred to the stage, while its story,
although it contains some striking situations, such as Trilby's collapse
upon the death of Svengali, consists chiefly of a series of episodes,
largely independent of each other and strung together very loosely. All
things considered, Mr. Potter ought not, perhaps, to be held to too
strict an account for the liberties he has taken with the text and some
of the personages, but he has certainly lowered the tone of the work,
and been guilty of various crudities of construction. There is some
excuse for his employment of Svengali as the evil influence which wrecks
the happiness of Little Billee and Trilby, but he leaves nothing of the
author's original intention, and infinitely belittles the character of
the girl, when he attributes her flight from her lover to mesmeric
suggestion, instead of her own noble and unselfish devotion. In many
other similar ways the spiritual side of the book suffers at his hands.
His persistent references to Trilby's posing for the figure, his
selection of that particular incident for her first introduction, and
the joking references to it which he puts into the mouths of other
personages, are in bad taste, while his travesty of the character of
Dr. Bagot is entirely without justification. Mrs. Bagot he treats with
more consideration, but he reduces her to the level of the dullest stage
conventionality. Trilby herself preserves a good many of her
characteristics, but is degraded even more than in the book by her
subserviency to Svengali.

The play is in four acts, and the whole story up to the flight of Trilby
is compressed into the first two. This feat is accomplished with no
small ingenuity, but at great cost of probability. In this brief space
Trilby is wooed and won, Svengali asserts his mesmeric power, the
marriage of Little Billee is arranged and interrupted by the arrival of
his mother, and an elopement is planned and frustrated. In the third act
Trilby is to sing in the Cirque des Bashibazouck, and all the characters
reassemble as if by magic in the foyer of that temple of art, which is
abandoned of all other persons for their sole benefit. The proceedings
which are supposed to occur in this retired spot are intrinsically
absurd, but they are effective enough from a scenic and theatrical point
of view, and were accepted by the audience, on the first night, as
eminently natural and satisfactory. They culminate in the ghastly death
of Svengali and the restoration of Trilby in a dazed and exhausted
condition to the three faithful friends. In the fourth act there is
another reunion of characters, and Trilby, who has agreed once more to
marry Little Billee, and is supposed to be on the road to recovery, dies
suddenly, upon the unexpected apparition of Svengali's photograph.

As it stands, the play is not much superior, if at all, to ordinary
melodrama, being almost wholly void of the literary, humorous and
personal charm of the book, but it is very well played, has a number of
effective scenes, and is unquestionably popular. Miss Harned's Trilby,
though rather a faint reflection of the original, has the merit of being
attractive and womanly, as well as free and frank, and exhibits true
pathos in the mesmeric scenes. On the whole, it is a very creditable
impersonation. Mr. Lackaye's Svengali is overwrought but indisputably
strong; and Burr McIntosh, John Glendenning and Alfred Hickman represent
the three friends cleverly, and furnish excellent living pictures of du
Maurier's sketches. Mr. Dietrichstein makes an admirable Zouzou, and all
the minor parts are performed competently. A feature of the
representation which is received with special favor is the Christmas
merrymaking in the Latin Quarter, which is as vivacious and realistic as
could be wished.

A matter of considerable interest to authors and publishers, for the
copyright question involved, occurred in connection with the Boston
performances. Elmer Chickering, the well-known photographer of Boston,
took some pictures of Mr. A. M. Palmer's company, which naturally came
into demand at once. But rushing over the wires came a message from
Harper & Bros., saying that, as the characters were made up after du
Maurier's drawings, they should regard the sale of any such pictures as
an infringement of their copyright. To this, Mr. Chickering disagreed,
on the ground that the photographs were not copies of any drawings, but
of actual scenes on the stage, which any man might sketch. Telegrams
flew back and forth, for the Messrs. Harper would not yield. Meanwhile,
the papers sought for the photographs, and Mr. Palmer was apparently
willing to receive the advertisement their publication would ensure; but
the publishers still held off. At last Mr. Chickering decided to fight
it out on his own line, for two of the New York papers printed some of
the 160 "Trilby" pictures taken by him; and--as indicating an amicable
adjustment of the dispute--a number of them appeared in _Harper's

The morning papers of April 30 contained this despatch:--"DENVER, COL.,
April 29. Did du Maurier write 'Trilby'? This novel question was
propounded to-day in the United States Court in good faith, when the
suit of Harper & Bros. and A. M. Palmer for an injunction against the
Lyceum Stock Company to restrain them from producing 'Trilby' at their
theatre was called. The defendants allege that the book entitled
'Trilby' was not originated, invented or written by du Maurier. They
assert that the original title and book of 'Trilby' were first published
in France in 1820, and afterwards translated and published in English in
1847, and that the title and book have been common property for
seventy-five years. The attorneys for the plaintiffs asked for time to
communicate with their clients in New York as to the course they should
pursue, and the Court postponed the hearing until Wednesday morning.
Should the allegations of the Lyceum Company be true, a sensation will
be caused all over the two continents. This is the first public
intimation of an attack on the authenticity of the work, and if it is
successful every company in the world will have as much right to play
'Trilby' as the Boston Organization."

The Lounger reprinted the telegram with this comment:--"Charles Nodier's
'Trilby, le Lutin d'Argail,' was published in Paris in 1822. It has just
one thing in common with du Maurier's book--the first word in its
title." The Sunday papers of May 12 printed this paragraph:--"DENVER,
May 11. Judge Hallet, in the United States District Court to-day,
granted an injunction restraining the Lyceum Theatre from producing
'Trilby' hereafter, deciding that it infringed on the rights of Harper &
Bros., and others. To-day's performance was stopped."

[Illustration: GEORGE DU MAURIER]


A London correspondent of the Philadelphia _Press_ furnishes some
interesting notes of a talk with Mr. du Maurier. Concerning literary
practice, the artist-novelist said that "Peter Ibbetson" was absolutely
the first story he ever wrote. "And yet," he added, "I have in one sense
been writing stories all my life. Every one of my pictures, for example,
has had under it a story condensed to the smallest possible space. The
necessity of condensing my description and dialogue has been of great
benefit to me in writing my two novels." As for "Trilby," Mr. du Maurier
said that his earliest conception of the story was quite different from
the one he finally worked out. "I had first thought of Trilby as a girl
of very low birth--a servant, or something like that. Then it occurred
to me that it would be much better to make her interesting--to create a
person who would be liked by readers. As a good many people seem to be
fond of 'Trilby' now, I am very glad, indeed, that I made the change."
And he declared further that the character of Trilby was not a study
from life, but wholly imaginary. It was Henry James who suggested to the
artist that he should write novels.

[Illustration: _BY HIMSELF_


"It was one day while we were walking together on Hampstead Heath. We
were talking about storywriting, and I said to him:--'If I were a
writer, it seems to me that I should have no difficulty about plots. I
have in my head now plots for fifty stories. I'm always working them out
for my own amusement.' 'Well,' he said, 'it seems to me that you are a
very fortunate person; I wish you'd tell me one of those plots.' Then I
told him the story of 'Trilby.'" "Yes, he praised it very generously.
'Well,' I said, 'you may have the idea and work it out to your own
satisfaction.' But he refused to accept it. 'You must write it
yourself,' he said: 'I'm sure you can do it, if you'll only try.' But I
insisted that I couldn't, and so we left the matter. But that night
after going home it occurred to me that it would be worth while trying
to write, after all. So on the impulse I sat down and began to work. It
was not on 'Trilby,' however, but on 'Peter Ibbetson.' I kept at it for
a time, but after doing several chapters I became utterly discouraged,
and said to myself one evening:--'Oh, I can't do anything with this.
It's a mad story. It's utter rubbish.' Then I took up the sheets and was
just about to throw them into the fire when I thought I'd keep them for
another day and think the thing over. That night in bed, while I was
worrying about the impossibility of going on with the tale, the solution
of my difficulty suddenly occurred to me. 'I'll make the hero mad,' I
cried to myself, 'that will put everything right.' So the next day I
wrote the introduction, explaining Peter's madness, and after that I
went on with the work to the end without any more trouble."

"Trilby's" American publishers have sent out the following note:--"A
letter from Mr. du Maurier to the late James R. Osgood is given
herewith. Possibly the hint it contains as to the secret of an exquisite
literary style will interest the greater number of readers; or perhaps
his saying (in 1890) that he has 'several good ideas,' which would seem
to be an answer to those who have maintained that 'Trilby' was written
many years ago. * * *

'MY DEAR OSGOOD:--Of course I remembered my promise, and as soon as my
book--"Peter Ibbetson"--was finished and typewritten, I wrote to
you--last week, as it happens--at 50 Fleet Street, but behold! you were
in America; so I sent them the copy, and I believe it starts by to-day's
mail for Harper in New York. I don't know how it got into the papers
that I was coming out in this new line, but I have already offers to
come to an arrangement. I have no notion whether it is suited to a
periodical or not--you will see; probably _not_,--but if it is I want to
be well paid for it; first [illegible], as far as my _first_ book is
concerned, whatever its merits; secondly, because the only people to
whom I have told the story (H. James, Canon Ainger, poor Allingham and a
few others) thought so well of it--or said so--as an _idea_; and I have
taken great pains in the carrying out thereof. If Harper's doesn't see
its way to it, I shall offer it elsewhere; and after that, I shall put
it in the hands of an agent. And if I don't get what I think I ought to,
I shall keep it and write another, as I have several good ideas, and
writing this has taught me a lot. All of which sounds very cheeky and
grand; but I am in no hurry to come before the public as a novelist
before I'm ripe, and to ripen myself duly I am actually rewriting it in
French, and you've no idea what a lesson _that_ is! * * *

'Yours ever, G. DU MAURIER.

'15 BAYSWATER TERRACE, LONDON, April 18, 1890.'"

It is said that when the Messrs. Harper were negotiating with Mr. du
Maurier for "Trilby," he declined their offer of a royalty on the sales
of the book and decided in favor of a "lump sum." We do not know how
large this sum was, but we are pretty sure that it was not so much as he
would have made by the royalty plan. That would have earned at least
$30,000 for him on a sale of about 100,000 copies to 31 Dec., 1894. The
Messrs. Harper have, however, done a more than generous thing by him:
they have informed him that they will pay him a royalty, and a good big
one, too, on all sales after 1 Jan., 1895, on both "Trilby" and "Peter
Ibbetson." The 600 copies of the _édition de luxe_ of "Trilby," at $10 a
copy, were sold outright to the Syndicate Trading Co.

Our London correspondent, Mr. Arthur Waugh, wrote to us on 16 April,
1895:--"The English reading public is to have its illustrated 'Trilby'
in one volume in June. Hitherto the three-volume edition has alone been
in circulation, and that without the illustrations. There are to be no
sketches in all, and arrangements are also in progress for a large-paper
edition of 250 copies, with six facsimile reproductions of original
drawings, unbound." Advance orders were received for 15,000 copies of
the six-shilling edition.

In an interview reported in the _Tribune_ of June 14, Mr. J. Henry
Harper was quoted as saying, apropos of a cablegram to the effect that
the writing of "The Martians" was completed:--

"He assures me that his new story will not be ready for the publishers
until December, 1896. I cannot tell you much about the book itself yet,
but it will not be in any sense a sequel to 'Trilby' except so far as it
will succeed that book. The new story will deal in its opening chapters
with French school life, and then with English life, both fashionable
and rowdy; then the artistic world of Antwerp and Dusseldorf is
exploited, while the closing stages occur in England. There will be love
in the tale, of course, and du Maurier also brings in the supernatural
again. There will be plenty of liveliness and some tragedy. The book, I
am given to understand, will be capable of illustration; but I am sorry
to say there is some doubt as to whether du Maurier himself will
illustrate it. It will depend entirely upon the state of his health,
which of late has not been of the best. The length of the story will be
greater than 'Trilby' and will run through about twelve numbers of
_Harper's Magazine_, in which it will first be published in serial

As a matter of course, Mr. du Maurier has had no end of invitations to
read and lecture in this country, but to all these invitations he has
turned a deaf ear. In a recent letter to _The Critic's_ Lounger, he
expressed himself as flattered by these overtures, but added that his
health would not permit of his accepting any of the tempting
propositions. He might be more in the way of temptation, if it were not
for the play of "Trilby." This brings him in almost as much money as
readings would. We are told that he is in receipt of several hundred
dollars a week from this source--not ten hundred, but very near it.
This, surely, is a much easier way of earning money than travelling from
one end of a big country to the other, for it costs him no greater
exertion than the signing of his name to a check.

No one who loves "Trilby" should fail to read the "autobiographic
interview" with du Maurier which Mr. Robert H. Sherard contributed, with
illustrations, to _McClure's Magazine_ for April, 1895. From this
singularly intimate and interesting article, one learns that the
author's first picture in _Punch_ represented himself and his chum
Whistler[A]; also, that the studio in the Latin Quarter where Trilby
visited the three English artists was drawn from that of his master,

Mr. du Maurier's monogram, which appears on the title-page of this
pamphlet, is reproduced from a carving on the table at which the staff
contributors to _Punch_ dine once a week, and on which many of them have
made similar inscriptions. We are indebted for it to _McClure's

Mr. du Maurier and Mr. Whistler

The first two or three of the following paragraphs appeared on the
Lounger's page in _The Critic_ of 16 June, 1894, and were reprinted,
with most of the Whistler-du Maurier items that succeed them, in the
issue of Nov. 17.

[Illustration: (From _The Westminster Budget_)


Mr. Whistler has mastered two arts besides painting and sketching. One
he has immortalized in that unique brochure, "The Gentle Art of Making
Enemies"; the other is the Gentle Art of Advertising Oneself. These two
generalities are not always to be distinguished from each other. It is
quite possible to make an enemy in advertising oneself; and nothing is
easier than to draw general attention to oneself, by the same act that
incurs the enmity of individual--especially if the individual be
eminent. At the present moment M. du Maurier happens to be one of the
most conspicuous figures in the field jointly occupied by Art and
Letters. In choosing him as an object of clamorous attack, Mr. Whistler
has shown himself a past-master of the art of advertising oneself. By
identifying himself with one of the characters in a story that everyone
is reading, he brings himself more conspicuously before the public than
by painting a new picture. Moreover, in sending to an English newspaper
a letter in which he vituperates his quondam friend and fellow-artist,
he interrupts himself for but a moment in the pursuit of his legitimate
calling as a painter.

In America, at least, few readers of "Trilby" would have known that, in
Joe Sibley, Mr. du Maurier had hit off some of the most salient
"peculiarities" of the immensely talented etcher, who, when he takes the
newspapers into his confidence, dips his pen in the corrosive acid with
which he bites his plates. Joe Sibley is not an engaging character; he
is a Bohemian of the Bohemians, clever, witty, penniless and presuming.
In taking his sibilant surname as a pseudonym for Whistler, we have the
endorsement of the artist himself, though he does not expressly declare
himself to be the archetype of this particular character. Sibley is the
only man in the book who _could_ have been drawn from Whistler--the
Whistler of a generation ago; and no one but Sibley could have written
the following letter, in which the creator of the character is so
wittily vilified:--

"TO THE EDITOR--SIR: It would seem, notwithstanding; my boastful
declaration, that, after all, I had not, before leaving England,
completely rid myself of the abomination--the 'friend '! One solitary,
unheeded one--Mr. George du Maurier--still remained, hidden in
Hampstead. On that healthy heath he has been harboring, for nearly half
a life, every villainy of good fellowship that could be perfected by the
careless frequentation of our early intimacy and my unsuspecting
_camaraderie_. Of this pent-up envy, malice and furtive intent he never
at any moment during all that time allowed me, while affectionately
grasping his honest Anglo-French fist, to detect the faintest

Pages: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | Next |

Main -> Gilder, Joseph Benson -> Trilbyana The Rise and Progress of a Popular Novel