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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins by Peter Ackroyd

Hardcover: 199 pages
Publisher: Chatto & Windus (April 2, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0701169907

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Book Description

Ackroyd at his best -- gripping short life of the extraordinary Wilkie Collins, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White.

Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely short-sighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colourful clothes, 'as if playing a certain part in the great general drama of life' Wilkie Collins looked distinctily strange. But he was none the less a charmer, befriended by the great, loved by children, irresistibly attractive to women -- and avidly read by generations of readers.
Ackroyd follows his hero, 'the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists', from his childhood as the son of a well-known artist to his struggling beginnings as writer, his years of fame and his life-long friendship with the other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. A true Londoner, Collins, like Dickens, was fascinated by the secrets and crimes -- the fraud, blackmail and poisonings -- that lay hidden behind the city's respectable facade. He was a fighter, never afraid to point out injustices and shams, or to tackle the establishment head on. As well as his enduring masterpieces, The Moonstone -- often called the first true detective novel -- and the sensational Women in White, he produced an intriguing array of lesser known works. But Collins had his own secrets: he never married, but lived for thirty years with the widowed Caroline Graves, and also had a second liaison, as 'Mr and Mrs Dawson', with a younger mistress, Martha Rudd, with whom he had three children. Both women remained devoted as illness and opium-taking took their toll: he died in 1889, in the middle of writing his last novel -- Blind Love.

This book is only 8x5 1/2 .  It is a small book but one that I enjoyed very much.  It’s not easy finding books about Wilkie Collins and what few there are, are not easy to come by and some are quite expensive.  I find it odd that so many books are out about his friend Charles Dickens but for someone famous in his own right, has very little written about him.

I now know he had 2 mistresses, one who gave him 3 children and one who he lived with for over 30 yrs.  I also know that he wrote many of his books with woman protagonists and was personally not happy how woman were treated when married.  He mentions they are treated as “property”..this could be one of the reasons he never married.?

The book breezes over a lot since it is a small book.  The do mention his use of Opium/ laudanum. And talk briefly about the effect it had on him at some point.

“ Yet in the end it had a degenerative effect and became a serious addictive rather than a restorative. On a journey to Switzerland he discovered that the chemists of the country could only supply a limited measure of the drug; his travelling companion had to visit four separate establishments to make up the amount that Collins needed.  In later life, too, he began to suffer from nervous hallucinations as a result of  his addiction. A second Wilkie Collins sat at the desk with him, trying to take control over the writing pad, struggling with him until the inkstand was upset.  Then the “real” Collins woke up.  When he ascended the stairs at night he was confronted by a swarm of ghosts who tried to push him down.  Sometimes he saw a woman with green tusks, and sometimes a monster with eyes of fire and big green fangs.

   One of the characters in The Moonstone, Ezra Jennings, laments that “even the virtue of opium have their limit.”

I have really enjoyed this book, and even the ‘not so nice’ things said could not drive me from liking Wilkie Collins stories.

Having read this make me realize even more, how much “homework” Simmons did when he wrote Drood!

I have really enjoyed reading about Wilkie and I have, my sis across the pond, Cath, to thank for it.. so, thank you Cath!!!

I wish I could read more of Wilkie’s books but they are always paperbacks and small print which makes it very hard.. but I will continue to keep looking and hoping to find print dark enough and hopefully double spaced so that I might read it!  Until then… anyone who is a fan of Wilkie Collins might well like to read this book!

4 Comments:

Blogger Cath said...

Really glad you enjoyed this one, Pat. It sounds like he was a very sweet person, so sad about the drug addiction. We think of drugs as a new problem but it hardly is. I'm surprised someone hasn't done a proper, big, biography of his life, it seems so odd.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

You mean there isn't a big biography done of his life? I am surprised too. I haven't read Drood yet, it's on my TBR mountain...I want to, though. I've been curious about this bio of Collins by Ackroyd, so now I will have to see if it's available at my library.

It is sad how many writers were influenced by drugs or alcohol, isn't it?

9:08 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

hi Cath:thanks again for the book... I tried to read it slow to enjoy it all the more!

Susan: not that I can find. There are 2 volumes of his letters but to buy them is ridiculous and I can't say I am fond of the library here in town but one day I may try to see if they have the books... gads like I need more books without buying them! argh! lol

10:17 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I still haven't read any of Collins' work but have been told over and over that I need to. It sounds like this book about him was very interesting. I don't always like to read about authors whose books I read because then their life story sticks in my head when I am reading one of their fictional stories. I'm just funny that way, and not sure why!

5:49 PM  

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