(1824 - 1889)
 “the primary object of work of fiction should be to tell a story.” 

William Wilkie Collins was named after two British artists - his father, William Collins and his godfather, David Wilkie – his father hoping that his son would follow him into the world of painting.  However Collins preferred the imaginative world of storytelling, writing short stories for Illuminated Magazine during the 1840s. .  His break though came in March 1851 when he was introduced to Charles Dickens, who took an immediate interest in him, publishing “A Terribly Strange Bed” in Household Words in April 1852 – a story which was reproduced in Collins’s first collection of short stories After Dark [1856] and is still included in modern anthologies of terror and the supernatural today.  He wrote more than 50 stories and articles for different periodicals, many of which were subsequently published in book form in After Dark, The Queen of Hearts (1860) and My Miscellanies (1863).  His two most successful full length novels were The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868). The former is generally considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first in the genre of sensation novels. Moonstone in turn was claimed by T.S. Eliot to be "the first, the longest and the best of modern English detective novels".  Dorothy L Sayers echoed Eliot, pronouncing it to be "probably the finest detective story ever written" and it continued to influence the work of crime writers like P D James and Ruth Rendell.

Collins led an unconventional, Bohemian lifestyle, frequently ate and drank to excess, formed long-term concurrent relationships with two women but married neither, and took vast quantities of opium over many years to relieve the symptoms of ill health.  His literary reputation has been overshadowed by his long term friend Dickens, but he was immensely popular at the time, and interest in him has recently been revived with both The Moonstone and The Woman in White being produced as TV series.

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Books by this author

The Woman in White



The Moonstone






The Queen of Hearts