Skip to main content

Wilkie Collins is a Mysterious Man

Wilkie Collins wrote so many books, and this author insists on detailing the plots of all of them, which I must invariably skim over because I don't want them spoiled, thank you, sir.

As one reads through Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation, one gets the sense that this book could have been much shorter than it is, and therefore more satisfying, as much much much of it is filler. Yes! It is indeed sad that Dickens did not keep Wilkie's letters but instead burned them in some sort of pyratic ecstatical moment he apparently had with much of his correspondence, but that does not mean you then just summarize novel plots and talk about the histories of his friends' and acquaintances' families.

Some of this I am greatly enjoying, because I like knowing about The Bigger Picture and how everyone jigsaw puzzleish fits in, but I do not need to know about the family background of the man Wilkie's sometimes live-in girlfriend married for like a year.

Which brings us to another point: was anyone else given the impression in past knowledge of Wilkie that his two girlfriends were totes chill with each other's existence? Because reading this makes me go "Hmmmm they were probably very sad but also had little recourse because Victorian Times and also how well did Wilkie deal with this situation, not well it seems." But that's based on very little evidence, because he was so DAMN PRIVATE.

[Victorian editors remove 'damn' from previous sentence]

So I have some questions re how the women in his life took this situation, and especially around this comment about Victorian men having a lower class fetish (which sounds legit, but I want more sources cited here). ALSO, Wilkie ignored Shelley's grave in order to pet a cat, and are we sure he did not base Count Fosco on himself?

NEXT WEEK: finish the book.


  1. My summary of this book: "Sadly, no letters survive from this journey, but census records do provide us with some insight into the family life of Wilkie's train conductor."

    1. FACT! And then we get 3 pages of the train conductor's second cousin.

    2. This made me snort because it's so COMPLETELY justified.

  2. I was trying to come up with a quick summary of what happened in this epoch and once I stripped out all the periphery characters I was left with "Wilkie got a new lady and had two daughters but didn't talk much about them and also he had a falling out with Dickens, but there aren't too many details about that either."

  3. I agree that this book could have been much, much shorter. We've just read a whole epoch about Wilkie's new mistress and his two daughters, but I don't feel like I've learned much other than she was a 'buxom wench' and the details of his first mistress' husband's passage to Australia.

    I'm also wondering how much both women were completely in love with the arrangement. Not just the inconvenience/indignity of it, but the damage to their reputations, etc.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop ( Odyssey Books , where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have. I feel like we could get to this point, Emily INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'. You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters. If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing: We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilar

#24in48: What Was Good, What Was Bad, What You Should Read

24in48, where we try to read for 24 hours out of 48, has come and gone once more. I managed 13 hours, which considering my usual average is 2, is excellent and I will take it. I attribute this to genuine planning this time and a remarkable lack of things to do that weekend. What did I finish! The Witches: Salem, 1692  by Stacy Schiff Captain Phasma  by Kelly Thompson (comic) The Daughter of Time  by Josephine Tey DC Bombshells  Volume 1 (comic) The Punisher: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (comic) Mars Evacuees  by Sophia McDougall The Good. It was actually all pretty good, so I'm gonna give a quick recap so you can decide if it strikes your fancy or not. The Summaries The Witches: Salem, 1692. This is a breakdown of everything that happened before, during, and after the Salem witch trials of 1692. I loved the beginning because Stacy Schiff gives you a good idea of the awfulness of life in New England in the 17th century, and it also helps you understand ho