The definitive biography of Wilkie Collins: Victorian novelist, playright, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White and owner of a secret double life.
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 author living with family secrets 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.