Wilkie Collins – Biography of Wilkie Collins

The novelist William Wilkie Collins Born in London on January 8, 1824, he was the eldest son of landscape painter William Collins. At the age of thirteen he moved with his family to Italy and stayed there for about two years.

His passion for storytelling was further stimulated by his experience at the school. He started writing fantasy stories to escape the oppression of a bully who, as he put it, “awakened their creative potentialWilkie was unfortunately an easy victim of the teasing and teasing of his peers, as he had an unattractive and almost misshapen physique: he was, in fact, very short, but with a disproportionate chest and head and hands and feet particularly small.

His father, despite his son’s artistic inclinations, wanted to initiate him into the law or the tea trade. For a short period he apprenticed in the tea markets, defining this mercantile apprenticeship as a veritable captivity that further fueled his steadfast desire to become a writer. Despite the confrontations with his father, who could not bear his rigidity, especially the religious one, he finally studied law but never practiced as a lawyer. Knowledge of the law would be useful for his work as a writer, lawyers will be the absolute protagonists of many of his novels. The first book he wrote and published in 1848 is, precisely, a biography of his father.

One of the most important encounters in the life of the young aspiring writer was, in 1851, with Charles Dickens, whom he became – and continued to be throughout his life – not only a friend, but also a traveling companion: the two wandered together through the most forgotten neighborhoods of London and Paris. He collaborated for five years with the magazines “Household Words” Y “All the Year Round“; Dickens himself praised their hard and dedicated work. These two writers were also united by a common passion for the theater: Charles Dickens, in fact, performed two melodramas written by his friend and colleague.

Throughout his life the unfortunate writer suffered from gout, rheumatic pain and serious eye problems. To alleviate the pain, he was prescribed opium, which he soon became addicted to: the addiction would last the rest of his life, with frequent moments of true excess.

Wilkie collins reached popularity in 1860 with the novel “The Lady in white“. The novel, published -according to the tradition of the time- in installments, inaugurated the genre of the yellow novel, and relates a confusion of identity centered on the similarity between the two female protagonists. To inspire himself, the writer relied on an encounter The real thing he had in 1858, in London’s Regent Park with an elusive woman, fully dressed in a white robe. The fleeting apparition fascinated and intrigued him to such an extent that he followed her. The woman had fled a house in the park where She was held captive and treated with the medical practices of mesmerism, not recognized by the medical community.The woman was Caroline Graves, a widow with a young daughter. Wilkie and Caroline had a relationship that would last thirty years, but they never married. Their relationship was never interrupted despite the fact that the writer married under a false name, to his nineteen-year-old mother’s maid, with whom he had three children, all baptized with the false names of both spouses. Caroline herself remarried, but lived with her new husband for only three years and then returned to live permanently with Wilkie collins, who until his death would continue with his double life.

The success of “The woman in white“It was not isolated, they also received a favorable reception, several novels published later: among them the best known are:”Armadale“(1866) and”The moonstone“(1868). This last novel was considered the founder of the detective novel according to the writer TS Eliot. The novel was published in installments and, with each new issue of the magazine, the public waited more and more eager to continue the investigation and find out who had stolen the precious diamond from India that gives the work its title, and was subjected to a terrible curse.
Despite his illness, Collins he was a prolific writer in later years he continued to write novels and short stories. Among the novels: “The law and the lady“(1875),”The man and the woman“(1870) and”Jezebel’s daughter“(1880).

From 1880 the health of the writer worsened. In 1889, as a result of an accident with his carriage, he began to suffer from lung problems; Wilkie collins He died in London on September 23, 1889 at the age of 65.