Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation

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9780091937096: Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation

The definitive biography of Wilkie Collins: the Victorian novelist, playwright, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White, who lived a life of sensation.
In the spring of 1868 Wilkie Collins found himself living a nightmare that could have come straight out of one of his bestselling novels. A visitor to his comfortable London town-house would have found him propped up in bed, desperately dictating the latest chapter of his new book, The Moonstone. Visible above the bedclothes would have been Wilkie'’s large, friendly face, framed by straggly whiskers, with its strange bump on the left of his forehead making him look like a lop-sided Cyclops. Nearby in the flickering light would have stood a bottle of laudanum, his palliative draught of choice when he needed to alleviate his excruciating pain.

The ostensible reason for his discomfort was gout, a long-standing affliction, but a host of other troubles bore down on him. The curious double life that Collins had concocted around himself was threatening to come tumbling down, tarnishing his respectable Victorian image. He had worked hard over the years to present himself as a bachelor clubman with bookish inclinations and, like his good friend Charles Dickens, would have been distraught by the idea that his intimate personal relationships could become public knowledge. Yet here was the famous author living secretly with two women, juggling a host of family problems and the possibility of scandal worthy of the racy Sensation fiction he penned.

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation is the first definitive biography of this brilliant, conflicted, complex man and an unforgettable portrait of a life lived in a cant-ridden Victorian world.

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About the Author:

ANDREW LYCETT was educated at Charterhouse and went on to read modern history at Christ Church, Oxford. As a former foreign correspondent, he has travelled widely, specialising in Africa and the Middle East. A full-time author since the early 1990s, his books include highly regarded lives of Ian Fleming, Dylan Thomas, Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, as well as of the Royal Geographical Society. He lives in North London.

Review:

"Acclaimed biographer Andrew Lycett uncovers a few skeletons in Wilkie Collins's closet, revealing a private life every bit as sensational as anything the author dreamt up in his fiction." Observer "Clean outlines, crystal clear English, and a clear-eyed picture of his subject... Andrew Lycett's a terrific narrator... the Hemingway of biographers... One sees Collins more clearly having read Lycett... A fine, and pre-eminently useful, biography of the most elusive character in Victorian literature." -- John Sutherland The Spectator "Collins's private life... was as rich in secrets as his books. Sensible, thoughtful and never less than scrupulous, -Lycett is just the right biographer to assess whether such potentially sensational material should affect our interpretation of -Collins's work." Sunday Times "As delicate as it is thorough, Lycett peels away the layers of deception with which Collins protected himself and shows us the engagingly vulnerable figure beneath" Evening Standard "Excellent on Collins's friendship with Dickens, which he presents, convincingly, as much more of a relationship of equals than Dickens's biographers allow" The Times

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