Wilkie Collins

 

 













Wilkie Collins (1824 –1889) was an English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. He was hugely popular in his time, and wrote 27 novels, more than 50 short stories, at least 15 plays, and over 100 pieces of non-fiction work. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name.

 The Woman in White and The Moonstone share an unusual narrative structure, somewhat resembling an epistolary novel, in which different portions of the book have different narrators, each with a distinctive narrative voice. The Moonstone, being the most popular of Collin's novels, is known as a precursor for detective fiction such as Sherlock Holmes. 

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From LibriVox:

 1.    The MoonstoneThe story concerns a young woman called Rachel Verinder who inherits a large Indian diamond, the Moonstone, on her eighteenth birthday.  The book is widely regarded as the precursor of the modern mystery and suspense novels. T. S. Eliot called it ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’.

 

2.    The Woman in White - It is considered to be to the first mystery novel, and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of ’sensation novels’….

The Woman in White is also an early example of a particular type of Collins narrative in which several characters in turn take up the telling of the story. 

 

3.     Armadale - 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 in the form of a letter to be given to his baby son when he grows up. Many years are skipped over. The son, mistreated at home, runs away from his mother and stepfather, and takes up a wandering life under the assumed name of Ozias Midwinter.”

4.  The Haunted Hotel, A Mystery of Modern Venice  - 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 finally put an end to the mystery? 
5.                   No Name - 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 and robbing them of their inheritance.
6.   The Frozen Deep - The Frozen Deep is a story of a love triangle between Clara, Frank and Richard, spiced up with dangerous expeditions, mysterious visions and life-threatening circumstances. The end is as surprising and unexpected as we are (or are not) accustomed to in Collins' books. 
7.  The Guilty River -  After his father’s death Gerard Roylake returns from Germany to take up his inheritance at Trimley Deen. On one evening he meets his childhood friend, Cristel Toller. They fall in love, but there is a crux. A deaf man, called The Lodger is obsessed with Cristel. He invites Gerard to tea with evil intentions… and Gerard accepts the invitation.  The book is written in the first person and tells the story from Gerard's point of view.

8.  The Dead / Alive -   The Dead Alive is a novel written by Wilkie Collins based on the true-life Boorn Brothers murder conviction case of 1819. Jesse and Stephen Boorn were sentenced to death for the murder of their brother-in-law, but were they wrongly convicted? 

9.  The Dream Woman - 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th story in Worlds Best Mystery and Detective Stories # 02

10.  Mr. Lismore and the Widow (13th story from Short Story Collection # 43)

11.  Jezebels Daughter - A brilliant chemist and a shrewd businessman — die on the same day. The widow of the chemist is left with the poisons he was researching , while Mrs. Wagner is left with her husband's mental health institution reforms and his plans for hiring women along with men in his firm's offices.

12.  The Black Robe - The Black Robe is an 1881 novel.   The book centers around the misadventures of Lewis Romayne.  The church has lost out on a valuable piece of land through wars and transfers. Father Benwell is determined to reclaim that property by the conversion of the owner, Lewis Romayne. Enter beautiful Stella, who captures the heart of Romayne. Should Stella capture the love and devotion of Romayne, Father Benwell's scheme would fail, and that is something that he can not allow. Complicating things is the fact that both Romayne and Stella are hiding their own terrible secrets.

13.  The Law and the Lady - Valeria Brinton marries Eustace Woodville despite objections from Woodville's family leading to disquiet for Valeria's own family and friends.  Just a few days after the wedding, various incidents lead Valeria to suspect her husband is hiding a dark secret in his past and she discovers that he has been using a false name. 

14.  Poor Miss Finch - "Poor Miss Finch." That is what everyone calls the courageous protagonist of this book. In other words, "poor thing, she's blind, isn't it awful?" Ha! Lucilla Finch is the wisest of all the characters, in spite of, and perhaps because of, her blindness. This story is about her trials, tribulations and triumphs. She reminds me of myself. Not the falling recklessly in love and being pulled this way and that by foolish young men and mad old doctors. I mean that, like her, I'm blind and proud of it! 

15. I Say No -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 after she discovers that her father's death wasn't natural, as she was led to believe. 

16.  Basis - Basil, son of a father who values the family pedigree and who would not let him marry below his station, falls in love at first sight with a girl he sees on a bus. He stalks her and discovers she is Margaret Sherwin, only daughter of a linen draper. He stalks her and persuades her father to let him marry her secretly. 

17.  The Dead Secret -  "Everything in life has a price. Maybe, 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?"

18.  The Traveler's Story of a Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins (9th story in Ghost and Horror Stories Volume 18)

19.  Miss or Mrs? - 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, Turlington arranges to have Natalie's father murdered, to gain control of his fortune.

20.  The Evil Genius -  The Evil Genius, one of Wilkie Collins' last works, is subtitled "A Domestic Scene". It is the intriguing tale of family Linley, including the "evil genius", and their governess Sydney Westerfield. In colorful pictures, Collins presents the story of this family, which becomes entangled in the often hyprocritical Victorian perceptions of morality and decency.

21.  The Two Destinies - Mary Dermody is destined to be together with George Germaine one day, or so at least her grandmother prophesizes. 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 young woman from drowning, a strong connection seems to develop between them, which seems to be almost supernatural.. 

22. The Caldron Of Oil by Wilkie Collins (8th story from International Short Stories # 2)

23.  The Queen of Hearts - The elderly Brothers Owen, Morgan and Griffith live a quiet, retired life in the countryside, which is turned upside-down by Griffith's ward, the young Jessie Yelverton. Originally, her visit to them was to last only six weeks, but for a very certain reason, the gentlemen must find a way to prolong her visit and get Jessie to stay for ten more days. To make her stay, they promise to tell her an entertaining and exciting story each night.

24. A Rouges Life - "The story offers the faithful reflection of a very happy time in my past life. It was written at Paris, when I had Charles Dickens for a near neighbor and a daily companion, and when my leisure hours were joyously passed with many other friends, all associated with literature and art, of whom the admirable comedian, Regnier, is now the only survivor. The revising of these pages has been to me a melancholy task. I can only hope that they may cheer the sad moments of others. The Rogue may surely claim two merits, at least, in the eyes of the new generation—he is never serious for two moments together; and he "doesn't take long to read." W. C." - Summary from the Introductory Words

25.  Man and Wife - This 1870 novel by Wilkie Collins centers around a peculiarity of Scottish law of that time, according to which any man and woman 'who were legally entitled to marry and who asserted that they were married before witnesses, or in writing, were regarded in Scotland as being married in law.' This strange law causes the characters Arnold and Geoffrey both possibly accidentally marrying Anne, though one is engaged to another woman and the other is searching for a more wealthy wife to accommodate his lifestyle. In these circumstances, Anne needs to catch an actual husband in order to save her reputation... 

26.  Hide and Seek - This is Wilkie Collins’ third published novel.   The artist Valentine Blyth has a very generous heart. He lovingly cares for his invalid wife, rescues a deaf orphan girl from maltreatment in a traveling circus and adopts her, and mentors a young man who gets in trouble with his tyrannical father. The girl, who received the nickname ‚Madonna’, falls in love with the young man, Zack. Because one of Valentine’s biggest fears is that Madonna’s blood relations will one day trace her and take her away from his home, he keeps the little that he knows of her origins a strict secret. One day, Zack befriends a mysterious stranger, who has just returned from years of rough life in the American wilderness. From that moment, the plot thickens, in mid-19th century dramatic style.

27.  Blind Love - Blind Love, also published under the titles Iris and The Lord Harry is Wilkie Collins' last novel, completed after his death by Walter Besant. The blind love in the title refers to the love of Iris, a woman of virtue, for the morally corrupt Henry Norland. She loves him despite all his faults, but she also does not realize the full extent of them. As in many of Wilkie Collins' novels, this book also tackles difficult social problems. In this case, the Irish Question and women's rights bring another layer to the narrative.

28.  Heart and Science: A Story of the Present Time - Heart and Science is one of Wilkie Collins' didactic novels. It is the story of young doctor Ovid Vere, who fights for his love against all resistance of his family and their immediate circle of acquaintances. The novel features a large inheritance, a secret engagement, and an evil stepmother, but what makes the novel truly remarkable is that Wilkie Collins, who was always very fond of animals, speaks out in this volume against animal cruelty in the sciences.

29.  After Dark - William Kerby is in danger of losing his sight, which would hit him especially hard as he is a painter. Only rest can preserve it, but a man must eat, and so he and his wife Leah look for other ways to generate a small income. Having travelled a good deal and having heard all kinds of stories on those journeys, William dictates six short stories to his wife, hoping that publishing a book might tide them over.

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