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The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins

de Catherine Peters

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In this major biography, Catherine Peters explores the complicated life of Wilkie Collins, the greatest of the Victorian "Sensation" novelists and author of the famous Woman in White and The Moonstone. An intimate of Dickens and of the Pre-Raphaelites Holman Hunt and Millais, Collins was called the "king of inventors" by his publisher. On the surface, he was charming, unpretentious, and extremely good company, beloved by men and women. Beneath this façade, however, he was a complex and haunted man, addicted to laudanum, and his powerful, often violent novels revealed a dark side of Victorian life. He supported two common-law wives and their children, and as Peters shows, he provoked scandal by refusing to cloak his complicated love affairs in the customary hypocritical pretense of the period.Having discovered a hitherto unknown autobiography by Wilkie Collins's mother, Peters draws on this document and on thousands of Collins's unpublished letters to create this provocative picture of his life and times. She describes in detail the saga of his exhausting struggle for better copyright protection for authors, especially for English authors in the United States. She has also studied the manuscripts of his novels, plays, and stories, including those which he did not complete, finding that some of his neglected novels turn out to be much more interesting than most readers realize today. This edition of the book has been supplemented to include an appendix describing Collins's "Tahitian" novel. Written when he was twenty, the manuscript of this work, Ioláni, was thought to have disappeared, but it has recently been rediscovered and sold to a private collector. For any Collins enthusiast, or for anyone interested in the literary history of the Victorian period, The King of Inventors provides a vivid account of Collins's unusual personal life in the context of his literary and artistic friendships and of newly revealed facts about the two women with whom he shared his "double life."Originally published in 1993.The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.… (més)
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Best known as an English writer and playwright in the late 1800s, Wilkie Collins may be best known for “The Woman in White” and ‘The Moonstone”. Author Catherine Peters looks at his private life and his impact on the literary world. It was interesting to read about his impact on copyright issues in the Victorian period, the scandal from his two common-law wives, and his addiction to laudanum. The author used a variety of unpublished letters and manuscripts and an autobiography by his mother to show how his relationships and friendships with other readers like Charles Dickens lead him to mentor young writers. This well-research biography includes a list of illustrations, references, bibliography, and Index. Charles Collins’ “Secret Connection”, Wilkie Collins’s Travelling Desk, and Wilkie Collins’ first unpublished novel are included as appendixes.

I received this book through a random giveaway. Although encouraged as a courtesy to provide feedback, I was under no obligation to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  bemislibrary | Dec 31, 2017 |
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In this major biography, Catherine Peters explores the complicated life of Wilkie Collins, the greatest of the Victorian "Sensation" novelists and author of the famous Woman in White and The Moonstone. An intimate of Dickens and of the Pre-Raphaelites Holman Hunt and Millais, Collins was called the "king of inventors" by his publisher. On the surface, he was charming, unpretentious, and extremely good company, beloved by men and women. Beneath this façade, however, he was a complex and haunted man, addicted to laudanum, and his powerful, often violent novels revealed a dark side of Victorian life. He supported two common-law wives and their children, and as Peters shows, he provoked scandal by refusing to cloak his complicated love affairs in the customary hypocritical pretense of the period.Having discovered a hitherto unknown autobiography by Wilkie Collins's mother, Peters draws on this document and on thousands of Collins's unpublished letters to create this provocative picture of his life and times. She describes in detail the saga of his exhausting struggle for better copyright protection for authors, especially for English authors in the United States. She has also studied the manuscripts of his novels, plays, and stories, including those which he did not complete, finding that some of his neglected novels turn out to be much more interesting than most readers realize today. This edition of the book has been supplemented to include an appendix describing Collins's "Tahitian" novel. Written when he was twenty, the manuscript of this work, Ioláni, was thought to have disappeared, but it has recently been rediscovered and sold to a private collector. For any Collins enthusiast, or for anyone interested in the literary history of the Victorian period, The King of Inventors provides a vivid account of Collins's unusual personal life in the context of his literary and artistic friendships and of newly revealed facts about the two women with whom he shared his "double life."Originally published in 1993.The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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