Dr. Anna Clark Edits Novella for Students and Scholars
Making literature accessible to–and come to life for—students is a key part of an English teacher’s work. Bishop’s English teacher Dr. Anna Clark says, “Teaching and editing are mutually beneficial!”
Dr. Clark’s first venture into editing is with a new edition of “The Dead Alive,” a novella written in 1874 by British author Wilkie Collins, recently published by Broadview Press. The book cover blurb reads, “…the celebrated British writer of sensation fiction tells the tale of two brothers sentenced to be executed for having committed a murder that never occurred, and of the energetic Naomi Colebrook’s efforts to ferret out the truth and save the two innocents. As editor Anna Clark observes, Collins’s work is both a compelling legal sensation thriller and an important transatlantic commentary on American life. Along with the text itself and an illuminating introduction, Clark provides a range of background materials—including documents from the real-life murder trial that inspired the novella—in order to set the work in its historical context.”
What inspired you to take on this project?
I've been interested in Wilkie Collins since I studied “The Woman in White,” his most famous novel, in graduate school. Though he's not as widely read as nineteenth-century novelists such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot, Collins is one of the originators of the detective novel and his work is groundbreaking in its portrayal of flexible, unstable identity. I wanted to take on this project to draw attention to one of his lesser-known works and provide a resource for academics, teachers, and students interested in his fiction and its historical context.
How does this kind of work impact your work with students?
I have my students in mind as I edit: what kind of information would they find helpful? what kind of context would enhance their understanding of a text? Teaching and editing are mutually beneficial!
What kind of research work did you do in order to provide background materials?
“The Dead Alive” is a particularly interesting text to edit because it's based on an actual 18th-century murder trial. Much of my research involved searching databases of digitized newspapers and historical documents for information related to the trial. I also traveled to Philadelphia, where the original handwritten manuscript of the novella is stored in the Special Collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Examining it allowed me to get a sense of how Collins developed his characters and prepared his work for publication.
Have you done other similar editing work previously?
This is my first editing project. I hope to do more in the future!
What do you love about editing?
It's a thrill to be able to spend so much time with a single text. Even after months of work on the project I was always discovering new facets and connections.
The Bishop’s School is an independent, coeducational college-preparatory day school for students in grades six through twelve who live throughout San Diego County. Founded in 1909, the School is affiliated with the Episcopal church.