There were times during Charles and Wilkie’s friendship where differing opinions on literary ideals, personal relationships, and clashing social and political views created points of contention. Over 150 years later it is hard to know the full impact this had on their personal and professional relationship, particularly as of the thousands of letters Wilkie wrote to Charles only three are known to survive. On 3 September 1860 Charles held a bonfire at Gad’s Hill burning 20 years’ worth of letters, reflecting the Victorian fear of the permanent evidence that letters left. Interestingly, Charles’s actions may have been prompted by, or reinforced by, Wilkie’s writing. Wilkie refers to burning letters in several articles in Household Words and it is also used as a plot device in The Woman in White.

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