Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was a English author of plays, short stories, essays and over 30 novels that sometimes ventured into Gothic and supernatural themes, in addition to his widely read mystery novels. A great friend of Charles Dickens, Collins was a scandulous figure in Victorian society due to his fathering numerous children with various mistresses and his addiction to laudanum that preceded strange behavior. Collins' use of Gothic landscapes, insanity, drugs, retribution and family intrigue in his stories often were contrary with familiar Victorian norms and made Wilkie a much talked about author in his day.
Famed poet T.S. Eliot has described Wilkie Collins' suspense novel The Moonstone as being "The first and greatest of English detective stories." Matters of taste can always be disputed, but in this case, i'm firmly in Eliot's camp. Though Edgar Allan Poe is widely considered to be the first writer of a detective story, Wilkie Collins wrote the first detective NOVEL. Published in 1868, The Moonstone refers to a large Indian diamond given to Rachel Verinder, a young Englishwoman, as a gift on her eighteenth birthday from her corrupt uncle who served in the English army in colonial India. During the birthday party, the famed stone is stolen and the first detective novel was born.
Perhaps Collins' best known work, The Woman in White (1860), is a story told from many different perspectives through many different narrators. Based on an actual crime (Collins was also a lawyer), the novel tells the story of young Laura, destined to marry creepy Sir Percival Glyde, instead of her true love Walter, and the subsequent lies that follow Glyde's grab for Laura's inheritence. Many future literary villians were based on Sir Percival Glyde and his Italian friend Count Fosco, who should have been named Count Freaky instead. Love overcomes in the end, but it's a heck of a ride till it does!
Submitted by Dan@Central