Wilkie Collins' sixth novel took the fashionable world by storm on its appearance in 1860, when everything from dances to dresses was named after the woman in white. Nicholas Rance is the author of Historical Novel and Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century England.
Wilkie Collins was born in London on 8 January 1824. His father was the landscape painter William Collins. After school he worked for a tea merchant before studying to become a lawyer. In 1848 he published a biography of his father and his first novel, Antonina, followed in 1850. In 1851 he met Charles Dickens who would later edit and publish some of his novels. Collins's novels were extremely popular in his own time as well as now. The Woman in White (1859), No Name (1862), Armadale (1866) and The Moonstone (1868) are his best known works. Collins was linked with two women (one of whom bore him three children) but he never married. He died on 23 September 1889.
Probably the finest example of 'sensation fiction', a Victorian genre that used suspense as a basic element. This work twists and turns with dastardly deeds and shameful secrets, love and dishonour. Usually regarded as one of the original 'detective' stories, Collins's novel is much concerned with personal danger, suspense, the conflict of good and evil, and characters at the extremes of suffering and survival - a genuine thriller. The 'rescue of innocence' theme is essential to the genre, and the characterization and psychological detail are elements too often ignored by the thriller. Thackeray stayed up all night to finish it, and so will you. (Kirkus UK)
Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Shortlisted for BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Everyman's Library classics
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