Image of Wilkie Collins


Lifetime: 1824 - 1889 Passed: ≈ 134 years ago


English Novelist



Wilkie Collins

William Wilkie Collins  was an English novelist and playwright known for The Woman in White (1859), and for The Moonstone (1868), which has been called the first modern English detective novel. Born to the London painter William Collins and his wife, the family moved to Italy when Collins was twelve, living there and in France for two years, which allowed the author to learn Italian and French. He worked initially as a tea merchant. After publishing Antonina, his first novel, in 1850, Collins met Charles Dickens, who became a friend and mentor. Some Collins works first appeared in Dickens's journals Household Words and All the Year Round. The two also collaborated on drama and fiction. Collins gained financial stability and an international following by the 1860s, but began to suffer from gout. He took opium for the pain, but became addicted to it. His health and his writing quality then declined in the 1870s and 1880s. Collins was critical of the institution of marriage: he split his time between widow Caroline Graves – living with her for most of his adult life, treating her daughter as his – and the younger Martha Rudd, by whom he had three children.

Collins was born at 11 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, London, the son of William Collins, a well-known Royal Academician landscape painter, and his wife, Harriet Geddes. Named after his father, he was soon known by his middle name, which honoured his godfather, David Wilkie. The family moved to Pond Street, Hampstead, in 1826. In 1828 Collins's brother Charles Allston Collins was born. Between 1829 and 1830, the Collins family moved twice, first to Hampstead Square and then to Porchester Terrace, Bayswater. Wilkie and Charles received their early education from their mother at home. The Collins family were deeply religious, and Collins's mother enforced strict church attendance on her sons, which Wilkie disliked.

An instrumental event in his career was an introduction in March 1851 to Charles Dickens by a mutual friend, through the painter Augustus Egg. They became lifelong friends and collaborators. In May of that year, Collins acted with Dickens in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's play Not So Bad As We Seem. Among the audience were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Collins's story "A Terribly Strange Bed," his first contribution to Dickens's journal Household Words, was published in April 1852. In May 1852 he went on tour with Dickens's company of amateur actors, again performing Not So Bad As We Seem, but with a more substantial role.

Collins died at 82 Wimpole Street, following a paralytic stroke. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, West London. His headstone describes him as the author of The Woman in White. Caroline Graves died in 1895 and was buried with Collins. Martha Rudd died in 1919.

Books by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone Cover image

The Moonstone

Crime Horror Fiction Novel
Detective Mystery Epistolary Occult India

A young woman who inherits a beautiful diamond known as The Moonstone on her eighteenth birthday becomes the center of this mystery story. The diamond is a gift from an uncle who once served as an army officer in British India. She proudly wears the...

The Woman in White Cover image

The Woman in White

Fantasy Crime Novel
Detective Mystery Epistolary Sensation Family Life

The Woman in White is Wilkie Collins's fifth published novel, written in 1859. It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of "sensation novels". The story is sometimes c...

Miss or Mrs.? Cover image

Miss or Mrs.?

Romance Fiction
Fortune True Love

Natalie Graybrooke is in love with her cousin Launcelot Linzie, but engaged to Mr. Turlington, an older man who covets her fortune and whom she detests. Turlington is the executor of Natalie's father's estate. When Natalie secretly marries her cousin...

Basil Cover image


Crime Fiction
Detective Mystery Psychoanalysis

Basil (1852) is the second novel written by British author Wilkie Collins, after Antonina.

The Haunted Hotel, A Mystery of Modern Venice Cover image

The Haunted Hotel, A Mystery of Modern Venice

Horror Fiction
Detective Mystery Supernatural

A kind, good-hearted, genteel young woman jilted, a suspicious death or two that only a few think could be murder, strange apparitions appearing in an hotel all combine to create a horrifying conundrum. Who was the culprit and will finding out finall...

Jezebel's Daughter Cover image

Jezebel's Daughter

Crime Fiction
Detective Mystery Chemistry

A brilliant chemist and a shrewd businessman — die on the same day. The widow of the chemist, Mrs. Fontaine, is left with the poisons he was researching , while Mrs. Wagner is left with her husband's mental health institution reforms and his plans fo...

The Frozen Deep Cover image

The Frozen Deep

Fiction Drama
Marine Play Love Nautical

The Frozen Deep is an 1856 play, originally staged as an amateur theatrical, written by Wilkie Collins under the substantial guidance of Charles Dickens. Dickens's hand was so prominent—beside acting in the play for several performances, he added a p...

No Name  Cover image

No Name

Family Marriage Children's novel Children Detective novel General Fiction

When Andrew Vanstone is killed suddenly in an accident and his wife follows shortly thereafter, it is revealed that they were not married at the time of their daughters' births, making their daughters "Nobody's Children" in the eyes of English law an...

The Queen of Hearts  Cover image

The Queen of Hearts

Adventure Fiction
Mystery Adventure Thriller Literature Classics Castle England

A remote castle in Wales inhabited by three older men is the last place on earth that a young, lively girl of 18 would want to spend time. And yet, when forced by circumstances to take up residence there for six weeks prior to coming of age, Jessie s...

The Black Robe  Cover image

The Black Robe

Detective Love Devotion Epistolary Corruption London Failure

As the story begins, Romayne and his friend, Major Hynd, are in Boulogne to visit Romayne's aunt, who is dying. While there, Romayne attends a card game, where he has an argument with a corrupt card sharp, the General, who challenges him to a duel. H...

The Dead Alive  Cover image

The Dead Alive

Crime Novel
Murder Mystery America Classics True United States Failure

The Dead Alive written by Wilkie Collins in the 1870s is on the real-life wrongful conviction of Stephen and Jesse Boorn that happened in 1819 in the United States, in the state of Vermont. It shines a light on the failures of the legal system when i...

Poor Miss Finch  Cover image

Poor Miss Finch

Romance Novel
Romantic Love Young Sensation Life America Dark United States Crafts

Poor Miss Finch is a novel about a young blind woman who temporarily regains her sight while finding herself in a romantic triangle with two brothers.

The Two Destinies  Cover image

The Two Destinies

Romance Fiction
Love Young Money Destiny Letters

Mary Dermody is destined to be together with George Germaine one day, or so at least her grandmother prophesies. Destiny at first doesn't seem to adhere to this plan, and the pair is separated and lose sight of each other. But when George saves a you...

I Say No  Cover image

I Say No

Romance Crime
Love Mystery Adventure Discovery Beliefs

Emily Brown is an orphan girl that almost no one can help but love when they meet her. She is pursued by two worthy men: Mr. Alban Morris, the drawing master at her school; and Rev. Miles Mirabel, a clergyman. However, one of them is lying to her aft...

The Dead Secret Cover image

The Dead Secret

Adventure Fiction Novel
Detective Mystery Action Suspense Life General Fiction

"Everything in life has a price. May be, telling a Secret has the highest. However, not telling may be worse. What will Sarah choose? will she tell the Secret which destroyed her life?"

Armadale  Cover image


Murder Death Life Letters Confessions General Fiction

The novel has a convoluted plot about two distant cousins both named Allan Armadale. The father of one had murdered the father of the other (the two fathers are also named Allan Armadale). The story starts with a deathbed confession by the murderer i...

The Law and the Lady  Cover image

The Law and the Lady

Crime Fiction Novel
Detective Marriage Murder Mystery Death Discovery London Convicts

The Law and the Lady is a detective story, published in 1875 by Wilkie Collins. It is not quite as sensational in style as The Moonstone and The Woman in White.

The Biter Bit Cover image

The Biter Bit

Young Fortune Thriller Revenge Reputation Suspense

The story follows the fortunes of a young man named Valentine Blyth, an aspiring artist who falls victim to a cunning and manipulative con artist named Jabez North. North's scheme involves convincing Blyth to marry his daughter, only to then reveal t...

The Fallen Leaves Cover image

The Fallen Leaves

Fiction Novel
Love Victorian Mystery Redemption Deception Moral Dilemmas Justice Challenges Intriguing Leaves

A tale of hidden secrets and tangled destinies unfolds, leaving readers enthralled and eager for answers. This captivating Victorian mystery novel takes us on a journey through love, betrayal, and the quest for redemption, set against the backdrop of...

Rambles Beyond Railways; or, Notes in Cornwall taken A-foot Cover image

Rambles Beyond Railways; or, Notes in Cornwall taken A-foot

History Spirit Village Travelling Journey Passion Geography Experiences Travelogue

In this, Wilkie Collins invites readers to explore the rugged beauty and rich history of Cornwall through his captivating travelogue. Departing from the confines of conventional transportation, Collins embarks on foot-bound expeditions that unveil th...

The New Magdalen Cover image

The New Magdalen

Fiction Novel
Love Power Redemption Rescue Deception Society Suspense Life

When a young woman is presumed dead in a war, another woman seizes the opportunity to escape her past and assume her identity. But when the first woman is found alive, the two must confront their pasts and the lies they have told. This hook introduc...

Der Mondstein Cover image

Der Mondstein

Adventure Action
Mystery Crime Victorian Society Suspense Detective Fiction Classic Literature

Mit einem funkelnden indischen Mondstein beginnt ein unvergessliches Abenteuer: "Der Mondstein", ein Klassiker des viktorianischen Sensationsromans von Wilkie Collins, entführt Sie in eine Welt voller Rätsel, Intrigen und unerwarteter Wendungen. Ein...

Blind Love Cover image

Blind Love

Fiction Novel
War Deception Devotion Suspense Devotional political Desire Relationships Danger

Embark on a captivating journey into the depths of human emotion and the perils of misplaced affection with Wilkie Collins's enthralling novel, "Blind Love." Prepare to be swept away by a tale of forbidden romance, political intrigue, and the devasta...