Collins, Wilkie

NOVELIST (ENGLAND)
BORN 8 Jan 1824, London: 11 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone (now: 96-100 New Cavendish Street) - DIED 23 Sep 1889, London: 2 Wimpole Street
REAL NAME Collins, William Wilkie
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (141/PS (31754))

Son of the landscape painter William Collins RA. Studied law before turning his full attention to writing. In 1845 his first novel was refused by Chapman & Hall. After exhibiting a painting at the Royal Acadcemy in 1849 his novel "Antonina" was published in 1850.

In 1851 he met Charles Dickens and they soon became friends. They travelled together in the UK and in France and Collins published his stories in Dickens' Household Words. They also shared a fascination for theatre and in 1855 Collins' play "The Lighthouse" was staged by Dickens' theatre group, followed in 1857 by "The Frozen Deep". Later that year "The Lighthouse" was staged at the Olympia Theatre. In 1871 "The Woman in White" could be seen at the same theatre and in 1879 Ada Cavendish played "Miss Gwilt" in New York (Miss Lydia Gwilt was one of the main characters of "Armadale").

Collins' most famous novel, "The Moonstone" (1868) is regarded as the first real British detective novel. Before that "The Woman in White" (1860) had already been a huge succes. In his later books he paid more attention to social issues like separations (in "Man and Wife") and vivisection (in "Heart and Science", 1883).

The unconventional Collins never married, but lived for many years with Caroline Graves and had three children with Martha Rudd. He was a very famous man in his days but often suffered from poor health. In July, 1889, The Times wrote that Queen Victoria 'had made special inquiries as to his health". Collins died in September of that year and was buried according to his explicite wishes in a simple grave at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

Other novels: "Basil" (1852); "Hide and Seek" (1854); "No Name" (1863); "Armadale" (1866).

Related persons
• has a connection with Besant, Walter
• was a friend of Cavendish, Ada
• was a friend of Dickens, Charles John Huffham
• was a friend of Egg, Augustus Leopold
• knew Eliot, George
• was a friend of Frith, William Powell
• has a connection with Le Clerq, Rose
• knew Lewes, George Henry
• was painted by Millais, John Everett
• was a friend of Roosevelt, Blanche
• corresponded with Webster, Benjamin Nottingham

Events
1835/1/13: Wilkie Collins enters Maida Hill Academy
1843/8/0: "The Last Stage Coachman" by Wilkie Collins is published in "The Illuminated Magazine"
1845/3/8: Wilkie Collins' first novel is refused by Chapman & Hall
The story was set in Tahiti. He had sent it to Chapman & Hall in January.
1846/5/17: Wilkie Collins is admitted as a student to Lincoln's Inn
1849/0/0: Wilkie Collins exhibits a painting at the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy
1850/2/27: Wilkie Collins' first novel "Antonina" is published
1851/1/0: "Rables beyond Railways" by Wilkie Collins is published
It was an account of his travels in Cornwall.
1851/3/0: First meeting between Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins
1852/1/0: Wilkie Collin's "Mr. Wray's Cash Box" is published
It had a cover illustration by John Millais.
1852/1/24: For the first time a story of Wilkie Collins appears in Household Words
It was the story "A Terribly Strange Bed".
1852/11/16: Wilkie Collins' novel "Basil" is publised
1854/6/5: Wilkie Collins' novel "Hide and Seek" is published
1855/1/16: Wilkie Collins' play "The Lighthouse" is first performed
It was performed at Travistock House by the theatre group that was led by Charles Dickens
1856/2/0: "After Dark" by Wilkie Collins is published
It was a volume of short stories.
1857/1/6: "The Frozen Deep" by Wilkie Collins is performed by Charles Dickens' theatre group
It was the first of four semi-public performances at Tavistock House, Dickens' home in London. About ninety people were present.
1857/6/1: "The Dead Secret" by Wilkie Collins is published in book form
It had been published serially in "Household Words" from 3 Jan to 13 Jun 1857.
1857/8/0: Wilkie Collins' play "The Lighthouse" is performed at the Olympia Theatre
1857/8/21: Wilkie Collins' play "The Frozen Deep" is performed three times in Manchester at the Free Trade Hall
Dickens played the main part in the play that was written by his friend and the public was completely under his spell. The second night was attended by 3,000 people. He had hired the actress Frances Ternan together with her daughters Maria and Ellen. Ellen was so impressed by the scene in which Dickens died that her tears fell on his beard and his clothes. The performances were given August 21, 22 and 24.
1859/5/16: Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins dine at Vereys in Regent Street, London
1859/11/26: Start of the serial publication of "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins in "All The Year Round"
1860/8/14: "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins is published
1860/9/4: Wilkie Collins leaves London for a week in Gloucester
1862/3/15: Start of serial publication of "No Name" by Wilkie Collins in "All The Year Round
The last part appeared on 17 Jan 1863.
1863/12/31: "No Name" by Wilkie Collins is published in book form
1866/5/15: "Armadale" by Wilkie Collins is published in two volumes
1868/1/4: Start of the serial publication of "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins in "All the Year Round"
The last part was published on 8 Aug 1868.
1868/7/1: "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins is published in book form in three volumes
1871/10/0: Wilkie Collins' play "The Woman in White" is performed at the Olympia Theatre
1879/0/0: Ada Cavendish plays Miss Gwilt in New York
"Miss Gwilt" was the stage adaption of Wilkie Collins' novel "Armadale". The play was produced for three weeks and didn't return after that. In London is had been staged for twelve weeks.
1883/5/16: "Heart and Science" by Wilkie Collins is published in book form
It had been serially published in Belgravia Magazine from Aug 1882 until June 1883.
1889/7/15: Queen Victoria inquires about the health of Wilkie Collins
"The Times" of 15 Jul 1889 stated that 'The Queen has made special inquiries as to his health'.
1889/9/27: Wilkie Collins is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery
According to his wishes he was buried in a simple grave. Among those present were his niece Jane Ward, Holman-Hunt, Pigott, George Redford, Edmund Yates, Charles Dickens the Younger, Frank Beard, Caroline Graves, Ada Cavendish, Arthur Pinero, Squire Bancroft, Sebastian Schlesinger, Andrew Chatto, A.P. Watt, Hall Caine and Edmund Gosse. In 1895 Caroline Graves was buried in the same grave.
1890/1/1: "Blind Love" by Wilkie Collins is published
Collins had died before it was finished and Walter Besant completed the story.

Sources
• Clarke, William M., The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins, Allison & Busby/W.H. Allen, London, 1988
• Peters, Catherine, The King of Inventors, A Life of Wilkie Collins, Seeker & Warburg, London, 1991
The Private Library, Third Series, Volume 3:2, The Private Libraries Association, Pinner, Middlesex, 1980

Images

Wilkie Collins' grave at Kensal Green Cemetery, London. His companion Caroline Graves was buried beside him.
Picture by Androom (11 dec 1993)

 

Wilkie Collins painted by John Everett Millais (1850, National Portrait Gallery, London).
(1850)

 

The grave of Wilkie Collins at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Jun 2009)

 


Collinson, James

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 21 Sep 2014