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“Wilkie Collins, as they say, could have fornicated for England.”


A new biography of Wilkie Collins is painting an intriguing portrait of The Moonstone author. Wilkie Collins: A Life Of Sensation by Andrew Lycett reveals that “Collins, as they say, could have fornicated for England,” according to the Daily Telegraph’s review.

On one of the family trips to Italy, he lost his virginity, aged 13, and he would be a voracious lover of women for the rest of his life. He had a fetish for what he called “haunches”, evident in the portrayal of such well-fleshed beauties as Marian Halcombe in The Woman in White.

The Daily Mail also relishes the idea of a Victorian novelist with a taste for the ladies from the lower classes.

Collins, who lost his virginity at 12 (err… Telegraph says 13) and travelled around Europe picking up girls with (Charles) Dickens, embarked upon long-standing and overlapping relationships with Caroline Graves, then a 25-year-old near-destitute single mother, and Martha Rudd, a 19-year-old semi-educated Norfolk barmaid.

Those Victorians!  For good measure, Collins was also addicted to opium.

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