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Wilkie Collins

(William Wilkie Collins)
UK flag (1824 - 1889)

William Wilkie Collins, author of the first detective novels in English, was born in 1824. The son of a respected landscape painter, he was named after his painter godfather, David Wilkie. Educated in London, Collins studied to become a barrister, although it was never his intention to practise, and by 1848 he had turned to writing, a number of short works appearing in Charles Dickens' periodicals, Household Words and later, All the Year Round. A first novel, Iolani, set in ancient Tahiti and involving sorcery and sacrifice, though perhaps written as early as 1844, was later rejected by publishers (and only rediscovered and published for the first time in 1999). His second novel, Antonina (1850), set in fifth-century Rome, was a popular success, before Collins' first venture into crime fiction with Basil (1852), a Gothic tale of doppelgangers, bigamy, and hidden family secrets. Developing at once detective fiction and the novel of sensation, Collins' exotic and gripping stories - often involving strong heroines, sinister locales, charlatans, and physical or psychological afflictions - became hugely popular with the reading public. His great novels appeared in the 1860s, when, at the height of his powers, Collins' wrote The Woman in White (1860), No Name (1862), Armadale (1866), and The Moonstone (1868).

Unafraid to question Victorian social mores, Collins never married but maintained two families. He lived both with Caroline Graves (whom he met in a midnight encounter such as is described in The Woman in White), and with Martha Rudd. In later life, Collins became addicted to opium, and from 1870 to his death in 1889, his novels became concerned with social issues, and are considered inferior to his earlier output. However, in recent years, Collins' oeuvre has received renewed critical attention, a recent biography hailing him as the king of inventors.

Genres: Mystery
   Iolani (1840)
   Antonina (1850)
   The Twin Sisters (1851)
   Basil (1852)
   Mr Wray's Cash Box (1852)
   Nine O'Clock (1852)
   A Passage in the Life of Perrugino Potts (1852)
   Gabriel's Marriage (1853)
   Hide and Seek (1854)
   A Stolen Letter (1854)
   The Dream Woman (1855)
   The Lady of Glenwith Grange (1855)
   Mad Monkton (1855)
   The Yellow Mask (1855)
   After Dark (1856)
   Anne Rodway (1856)
   The Black Cottage (1857)
   The Dead Hand (1857)
   The Dead Secret (1857)
   A Fair Penitent (1857)
   The Family Secret (1857)
   The Biter Bit (1858)
   Fauntleroy (1858)
   A Plot in Private Life (1858)
   Blow up with the Brig (1859)
   The Parson's Scruple (1859)
   The Woman in White (1859)
   The Fatal Cradle (1861)
   No Name (1862)
   Armadale (1866)
   No Thoroughfare (1867) (with Charles Dickens)
   The Moonstone (1868)
   Man and Wife (1870)
   Poor Miss Finch (1872)
   The Law and the Lady (1873)
   Miss or Mrs? (1873)
   The New Magdalen (1873)
   Fatal Fortune (1874)
   John Jago's Ghost (1874)
   Miss Jeromette and the Clergyman (1875)
   Mr Captain and the Nymph (1876)
   The Two Destinies (1876)
   Miss Bertha and the Yankee (1877)
   Mr Percy and the Prophet (1877)
   Miss Mina and the Groom (1878)
   Mr Marmaduke and the Minister (1878)
   The Devil's Spectacles (1879)
   The Fallen Leaves (1879)
   The Haunted Hotel (1879)
   Mrs Zant and the Ghost (1879)
   My Lady's Money (1879)
   A Rogue's Life (1879)
   Jezebels Daughter (1880)
   The Black Robe (1881)
   Miss Morris and the Stranger (1881)
   Mr Cosway and the Landlady (1881)
   Who killed Zebedee? (1881)
   Fye! Fye! or the Fair Physician (1882)
   Mr Lismore and the Widow (1883)
   I Say No (1884)
     aka The Love Letter Answered
   Mr Lepel and the Housekeeper (1884)
   Mr Medhurst and the Princess (1884)
   The Poetry Did it (1885)
   The Evil Genius (1886)
   Farmer Fairweather (1886)
   The Guilty River (1886)
   Miss Dulane and My Lord (1886)
   A Sad and Brave Life (1886)
   The Legacy of Cain (1888)
   Blind Love (1890) (with Sir Walter Besant)
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Non fiction
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Anthologies containing stories by Wilkie Collins
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Short stories
Gabriel's Marriage [short story]
The Lady of Glenwith Grange [short story]
Mrs Bullwinkle
A Terribly Strange Bed [short story]
Mad Monkton [short story] (1855)
The Dead Hand [short story] (1857)
The Biter Bit [short story] (1859)
The Dream Woman [short story] (1859)

Books about Wilkie Collins