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Wilkie Collins

British writer
Wilkie Collins

William Wilkie Collins (January 8, 1824September 23, 1889) was an English novelist, playwright and writer of short stories. He was a pioneer in the writing of detective fiction.



  • I have noticed that the Christianity of a certain class of respectable people begins when they open their prayer-books at eleven o'clock on Sunday morning, and ends when they shut them up again at one o'clock on Sunday afternoon. Nothing so astonishes and insults Christians of this sort as reminding them of their Christianity on a week-day.
    • Collins subverting ostentatious sanctity through observations of her herione in Armadale - Vol. II (p. 130)
    • Also in Literature and Religion in Mid-Victorian England: From Dickens to Eliot by Carolyn Oulton (p. 136)
  • People who read stories are said to have excitable brains.
    • Heart and Science - Vol. II (p. 57)
    • Wilkie Collins: An Illustrated Guide by Andrew Collins & Catherine Peters (p. 139)
  • Men ruin themselves headlong for unworthy women.
    • Man and Wife (p. 385)
    • Also in Wilkie Collins: Man of Mystery and Imagination by Alexander Grinstein (p. 155)
  • "A very remarkable work... in the present state of light literature in England, a novel that actually tells a story. It 's quite incredible, I know. Try the book. It has another extraordinary merit, it isn't written by a woman."
    • The Black Robe (p. 328)
    • Wilkie Collins: A Literary Life by Graham Law & Andrew Maunder (p. 15)
  • "Ask yourself if there is any explanation of the mystery of your own life and death."
  • I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story; and I have never believed that the novelist who properly performed this first condition of his art, was in danger, on that account, of neglecting the delineation of character — for this plain reason, that the effect produced, by any narrative of events is essentially dependent, not on the events themselves, but on the human interest which is directly connected with them. It may be possible in novel-writing to present characters successfully without telling a story; but it is not possible to tell a story successfully without presenting characters: their existence, as recognizable realities, being the sole condition on which the story can be effectively told. The only narrative which can hope to lay a strong hold on the attention of readers is a narrative which interests them about men and women — for the perfectly obvious reasons that they are men and women themselves.
    • Collins explaining what he calls the literary principal guiding him, in the preface of the second edition of The Woman in White.
    • Also in Reality's Dark Light: The Sensational Wilkie Collins by Maria K. Bachman & Don Richard Cox (p. xiv)

The Law and the Lady (1875)Edit

  • The actions of human beings are not invariably governed by the laws of pure reason
    • Vol. I (p. v)
    • Gothic Returns in Collins, Dickens, Zola, and Hitchcock by Eleanor Salotto (p. 32)
  • No man under Heaven deserves these sacrifices from us women. Men! They are the enemies of our innocence and our peace — they drag us away from our parents' love and our sisters' friendship — they take us body and soul to themselves, and fasten our helpless lives to theirs as they chain up a dog to his kennel.
    • Page 162
    • The Cambridge Companion to Sensation Fiction by Andrew Mangham (p. 82)
    • The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins by Catherine Peters (p. 224)
    • Cemetery of the Murdered Daughters: Feminism, History, and Ingeborg Bachmann by Sara Lennox (p. 227)
  • I confess I have often fancied myself transformed into some other person, and have felt a certian pleasure in seeing myself in my new chracter. One of our first amusements as children (if we have any imagination at all) is to get out of our own characters, and to try the characters of other personages as a change—to be fairies, to be queens, to be anything, in short, but what we really are.
    • Valeria describing entering the characters of others in The Law and the Lady (p. 195)
    • Also in Gothic Returns in Collins, Dickens, Zola, and Hitchcock by Eleanor Salotto (p. 39)

The Moonstone (1868)Edit

  • We had our breakfasts--whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast.
    • The Moonstone (p. 49).
    • Recipes from an Edwardian Country House: A Stately English Home Shares Its Classic Tastes by Laura Schaefer (p. 22)
  • Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law.
    • Critique of invisibility of white-collar crime and silent collusion between big businesses and the law, keeping the poor trapped in a circle of crime and punishment. (p. 54)
    • Convict Voices: Women, Class, and Writing about Prison in Nineteenth-Century England by Anne Schwan (p. 82)
  • Every human institution (Justice included) will stretch a little, if you only pull it the right way.
    • Page 124
    • Plots of Opportunity: Representing Conspiracy in Victorian England by Albert D. Pionke (p. 98)

The Woman in White (1859)Edit

  • The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared.
    • Walter encasing Laura in the Victorian paradigm of the angel of ideal feminine beauty, (p. 49).
    • Also in The Pre-Raphaelite Art of the Victorian Novel: Narrative Challenges to Visual Gendered Boundaries by Sophia Andres (p. 86)
  • My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.
    • Page 226
    • The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer (p. 169)
  • I am nothing but a bundle of nerves dressed up to look like a man.
    • Mr. Fairlie, an effiminate man, describing himself; Volume 2 (p. 253)
    • Also in The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century by Catherine Gallagher & Thomas Walter Laqueur (p.110)
    • Also in The Nineteenth-Century Novel: Identities by Dennis Walder (p.89)
  • Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper.
    • Page 336
    • The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins by Catherine Peters (p. 224)

Quotes about CollinsEdit

  • He is very suggestive, and exceeding quick to take my notions. Being industrious and reliable besides, I don't think we should be at an additional expense of £20 in the year...

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