Catherine Peters

A Tale of Two Mistresses

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation


Hutchinson 512pp £20 order from our bookshop

It is time for a new biography of Wilkie Collins. The late William M Clarke first revealed the details of Martha Rudd’s relationship with Wilkie Collins and the subsequent history of their three children 25 years ago. My own biography appeared in 1991. A short life by Peter Ackroyd was a welcome addition in 2012, but it was not based on new research and was not comprehensive. Literary scholars have, during the past quarter-century, added much to the interpretation and understanding of Collins’s novels and established their place in the canon of 19th-century fiction. There are also useful introductions to new editions of his lesser-known works, but an up-to-date account of his life for the reader who may know only The Woman in White or The Moonstone has long been needed. 

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