[The Frozen Deep]  [The Dream Woman]  [Dead Alive]  [Publishing History]

The Frozen Deep, first edition in cloth, Bentley, 1874.

The Frozen Deep, remainder edition in cloth.

First English edition by Richard Bentley in 1874 1874 first edition sheets in remainder binding 


Combined 1874 publication in book form of 'The Frozen Deep: a Dramatic Story, in Five Scenes'; 'The Dream Woman: a Mystery in Four Narratives'; and 'John Jago's Ghost; or The Dead Alive: an American Story'.  The first two stories were used by Collins for readings in America; the third was written during his tour.  On his return to England, Collins further adapted them for book publication.  The dedication is to Oliver Wendell Holmes whom he met in Boston.


'The Frozen Deep' is derived from the 1856 stage play.  'The Dream Woman' is based on the 1855 short story republished in The Queen of Hearts (1859) with the principal characters renamed Francis Raven and Alicia Warlock.  This version is set within a narrative framework in which the ostler is finally killed by his wife.



'He has won the greates of all conquests - the conquest of himself.'

Illustration from the Chatto & Windus edition of The Frozen Deep

From the Chatto & Windus edition

'The Frozen Deep' was adapted for reading from the 1857 stage play of the same name during the Boston part of Collins's 1874 tour of America.  It was further extended for book publication in The Frozen Deep and Other Stories (1874) and serialised in Temple Bar, August--September 1874.


Frank Aldersley becomes engaged to Clara Burnham at a celebration ball the night before he joins an expedition to find the Northwest Passage.  Clara is an orphan, staying with her best friend, Lucy Crayford whose husband is a lieutenant on the voyage.  The same evening Clara rejects the advances of Richard Wardour, another admirer.  Wardour in bitter despair joins the expedition at the last minute, vowing revenge on his rival without knowing that he is part of the crew.


Two years later, their ships, The Sea-Mew and The Wanderer, are trapped in the Arctic ice with most of the expedition weak or dying.  Wardour has just realised the identity of his rival and is still set on vengeance.  The officers cast lots to decide the composition of a search party to bring help from the nearest settlement and chance selects both Aldersley and Wardour.  When they become separated from the main group, Wardour wrestles with his conscience over leaving his now weakened opponent to die on the ice.


News meanwhile reaches England that some of the crew have been rescued.  Aldersley and Wardour are listed only as missing but Clara, with second sight, sees a vision of her fiancee dying by his rival's hand.  Lucy sails to Canada to meet her rescued husband and is accompanied by the distraught Clara.  While waiting in a boat-house on the Newfoundland shore, the lone figure of the starving Wardour suddenly appears.  Delirious, he fails to understand accusations about Aldersley's safety.  Wardour leaves the hut only to reappear carrying his still living companion in his arms.  The dying Wardour has nobly resisted the temptation of murder and instead has sacrificed his own life for Clara's happiness.




Alicia Warlock by Wilkie Collins; William Gill, Boston.

1874 Boston edition by William F. Gill

Supernatural short story originally published as 'The Ostler', second part of 'The Holly Tree Inn', the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words for December 1855.  It was later included in The Queen of Hearts as 'Brother Morgan's Story of the Dream Woman'.  It was adapted by Collins for his reading tour of America and enlarged within a narrative framework for The Frozen Deep and Other Stories (1874). 

Isaac Scatchard, an itinerant ostler, wakes on the night of his birthday to see the apparition of a woman trying to stab him with a clasp knife.  Seven years later he marries Rebecca Murdoch, against the wishes of his mother who recognises her from Isaac's description as the dream woman.  Rebecca takes to drink and fulfills the prophecy by attacking him on his birthday.  She disappears and Isaac can never again sleep at night for fear she will return to kill him.




The Dead Alive; Shepard and Gill of Boston.

1874 Boston edition by Shepard and Gill

Short story originally published as 'The Dead Alive' in the Home Journal, 27 December 1873 - 4 February 1874; New York Fireside Companion, 29 December - 19 January 1874; and the Canadian Monthly, January - February 1874. It was reprinted in book form, Boston 1874 [1873], Toronto 1874, and in The Frozen Deep and Other Stories (London 1874).  Written during Collins's reading tour of America, it is based on the true story of 'The trial of Jesse and Stephen Boorne' of Manchester, Vermont.  The missing body in the story also suggests similarities with The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870).


An Englishman, Philip Lefrank, visits his distant relations, the Meadowcrofts, in rural America.  The family consists of the father, Isaac, two sons, Ambrose and Silas, and a middle-aged daughter.  Another member of the household is Naomi Colebrook, Isaac's niece, whom Ambrose wants to marry.  John Jago, the farm manager, is also in love with Naomi and there is a strong mutual dislike between Jago and the Meadowcroft brothers.  When Jago disappears and remains are found in a lime pit, Ambrose and Silas are arrested for murder.  Despite the absence of an identifiable body, they are convicted and sentenced to death.  Just in time to save the brothers, Jago returns and confesses he disappeared deliberately.  The disenchanted Naomi leaves for England to marry Philip.



The Frozen Deep - Piccadilly Novels, Chatto & Windus.

The Frozen Deep; William Gill of Boston, 1875.

1875 Chatto & Windus edition in the Piccadilly Novels. 1875 Boston edition by William F. Gill - one of four binding variants.


See individual stories above


Book publication

First edition

2 volumes, Richard Bentley, London 1874.  Blue cloth, bevelled edges, front covers blocked and lettered in black, spines lettered in gilt, cream end-papers.  Half-title in each volume.  Published 2 November 1874.  Copies in brown cloth with yellow end-papers and Chapman and Hall advertisements, and without half-titles are of later issue.  

Vol I             viii + 248 pp

Vol II            viii (numbered vi) + 284 pp.  Publishers' advertisements occupy pp (283-284)

1 volume editions

Chatto & Windus, 1875-1915 (frontispiece by G. du Maurier and 8 illustrations by M. F. Mahoney).


Canadian edition

Hunter, Rose, Toronto 1874 ('The Frozen Deep' and 'The Dream Woman').

1st US edition

Gill, Boston, 1875 ('The Frozen Deep' and 'The Traveller's Story of A Terribly Strange Bed').



Russian, St Petersburg 1874; Holland, The Hague 1876; French, Paris 1879.

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