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Wilkie Collins was born on 8 January 1824 and died on 23 September 1889. In those 65 years he wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, at least 14 plays, and more than 100 non-fiction pieces. A close friend of Charles Dickens from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens's death in June 1870, Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens's bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has for fifty years. Most of his books are in print - and all are now in e-text - he is studied widely, and new film, television and radio versions of some of his books have been made. All his known letters have been published. And new book length studies of his work or life appear frequently. But there is still much to be discovered about this superstar of Victorian fiction.

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Find out more about The Public Face of Wilkie Collins - the Collected Letters

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  1. E-texts - links to e-texts of all of Wilkie's fiction, all of his books, and most of his other works. Now includes the text of his first known story 'Volpurno'. This archive also contains his first unpublished novel Ioláni, as well as the original texts of the biography of his father Memoirs of William Collins, Esq., R.A.Rambles Beyond Railways, Wilkie's non-fiction contributions to Household Words, all the 30 novels and 63 short stories, including variants of some, his contributions to Christmas numbers of Household Words and All The Year Round and pieces written with Dickens. There are also eight of his plays - including The Frozen Deep - which are almost impossible to obtain anywhere else.
  2. Chronological display of more than 100 images of Wilkie Collins from 1824 to 2006.
    More images of Wilkie than anywhere else.
  3. Wilkie and photographs - some of the major known photographs of Wilkie from 1857 to 1889 together with quotes from his letters and writings about photography.
  4. Contemporary accounts of Wilkie Collins. More than 90 full text biographies and reminiscences of Wilkie Collins published in his lifetime or by people who knew him.
  5. Book length biographies and book-length literary studies. Now updated for 2013 with 26 biographies and 21 book length criticisms.
  6. Wilkie's letters Images of manuscripts of more than eighty letters, envelopes and enclosures are reproduced here together with line by line transcriptions and supporting material.
  7. The history of Wilkie Collins's first novel, Iolani - unpublished in his own lifetime and lost for nearly a hundred years - which was finally published in 1999. Now with a link to the full text.
  8. Educating Miss Graves Wilkie paid for his step-daughter to go to boarding school
  9. Dickens's Bonfire Was Collins the inspiration which led Dickens to burn all his letters?
  10. Wilkie at Christmas - what he wrote and what he thought.
  11. The French preface to The Woman in White never before re-published or translated
  12. Where Wilkie Lived - words and pictures on his London homes now includes where he was born and baptised, the school where he was bullied, and the home where he wrote his first known published work
  13. Aldborough - Wilkie's setting for No Name
  14. Wilkie's walk from Ravello to Amalfi in 1838
  15. A bibliography of the first publication of his books in England. With images and details of later publication
  16. Wilkie's will The text of his will and notes on it.
  17. What Collins thought of Dickens Some written references by Collins about his friend.
  18. A large image and some information about his monogram
  19. Biographical notes for 1852 and 1853
  20. Wilkie's family - his brother Charles Allston Collins and his father William Collins R.A. including images of letters and paintings

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The Public Face of Wilkie Collins - the Collected Letters

"Anybody seriously interested in Victorian literature...will appreciate the materials collected here...The meticulously edited volumes will serve as...a great service to those interested in Victorian literature in general. Highly recommended." Benjamin F Fisher, Professor of English, University of Mississippi.

"Editorially, it is a much better work than its precursor [the editors] have markedly improved both textual reliability and the quality of annotation." John Bowen, Times Literary Supplement 3 February 2006.

The definitive collected edition of Wilkie Collins's letters was finally published in June 2005. The book is a comprehensive, chronological sequence of 2987 letters by Wilkie Collins drawn from public and private collections all over the world. More than 2500 are published in full while the 434 or so letters transcribed in Baker and Clarke's 1999 Collected Letters are listed in their correct chronological place.

Every letter has comprehensive footnotes and the four volumes contain a 26 page introduction, a 12 page chronology, four contemporary photographs, images of eight letters, and two indices. Of the letters published in full for the first time in a modern edition, more than 2100 have never been published anywhere before. 

You don't know Wilkie Collins until you have read this book.

The Public Face of Wilkie Collins - the Collected Letters, ed. William Baker, Andrew Gasson, Graham Law, and Paul Lewis, Pickering & Chatto, London 2005 ISBN 1851967648. £350/$540.

Treat yourself. Order it from Pickering and Chatto


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