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Wilkie Collins: In Summation

WELL HERE WE ARE. We have read an entire biography of esteemed Victorian Wilkie Collins. Was it good? Well, not really. Should this 420 page biography have been appx 100 pages? Yes. But now we have a list of Wilkie fiction to read! Wilkie fiction and also things like East Lynne by Ellen Wood, because do not think for a moment that we are not reading that. "It is remembered chiefly for its elaborate and implausible plot, centering on infidelity and double identities."

But again, Lycett seems to have taken random notes and then put them together into a book, and some of it's about Wilkie but most of it's tangentially related? I mean, sure, it's funny that troops were called in to protect animals in the zoos, but also WHY ARE WE HEARING A STORY ABOUT WILKIE'S EX-GIRLFRIEND'S DEAD HUSBAND'S PARENTS. 

I didn't feel like I learned that much about Wilkie from this, but also it really seems like he didn't want us to learn that much about him. Which I kind of respect. We know that he divided his estate equally between Caroline and Martha, which is great, but he also called Martha his morganatic family, which is kind of shitty. 

But how much can we expect of men in the 19th century? He gave us some great female characters, and sometimes behaved in a not-great way IRL. At least he didn't marry a woman, have 10 kids with her, then make fat jokes about her and publicly humiliate her in a published letter about their separation. DICKENS.

At least we finally got the "I too think the back view of a finely-formed woman the loveliest view - and her hips and her bottom the most precious parts of that view." That along with his ideal being this bare-butted lady statue (the Venus Callipgye):

I think we should read No Name and Armadale and Basil and The New Magdalen. And maybe others. What books-to-read did you take away from this! 


  1. Maybe Lycett was paid by the word, hence the history of every tertiary character in Wilkie's life.

    We need to read all those books plus East Lynne


  2. If there is any kind of Wilkie Collins read-along, count me it. So far I've read The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale, and No Name, and loved all of them. I'm also up for a group read of East Lynne.

  3. I want to read Armadale too, and also I have read East Lynne and it's pretty lunatic. Would be an excellent readalong.

  4. Thanks for hosting (even though I was late this week).

    I think it could have been shorter, but I'm happy that we've read it.

    I'm up for reading any of his novels, but particularly Man and Wife. Mostly because Lycett name-dropped it the most!

  5. ARMADAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALE. I am looking at the copy of Armadale on my own bookshelf and it is calling my name. Let's do it, let's make it happen, I am so so so prepared.

    Also, as you can imagine, I really respect Milky for keeping all his secrets so successfully. Power to you, Milky. Nobody knows one damn thing.


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