Wilkie Collins: A Brief Life


Product Details

$25.00  $23.25
Nan A. Talese
Publish Date
5.0 X 1.0 X 7.1 inches | 0.8 pounds
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About the Author

PETER ACKROYD is the author of London: The Biography, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination, Shakespeare: The Biography, and Thames: The Biography. He has written acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Award for Literature. His last book was a biography of Charlie Chaplin.


"Ackroyd paints a portrait of a man of great charm, with friends among a host of Victorian artists, writers and musicians ... He's clearly at home in Victorian England and has an obvious affection for his subject. The gift of his book is to take Collins out of Dickens's shadow." --The New York Times Book Review

"Smart, stylish ... More than other biographers, Ackroyd brings out the contrast between Collins's serenity -- 'He was perhaps the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists' -- and the poor health that dogged him for much of his life." --Washington Post

"The depiction of Collins as an artist afflicted with gout and neuralgia who worked himself to the brink of nervous prostration with each book he wrote makes him as interesting as one of his own fictional characters. Ackroyd's appraisal of his subject--that 'he breathed upon facts and kindled them into life'--is applicable to his own achievement here." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[Ackroyd] is unfailingly perceptive about Wilkie as a novelist, stressing not only the 'genius for construction' but also the lifelong support of the underdogs of Victorian society: women, the poor and even the Indians who figure in The Moonstone. Ackroyd also makes a very good case why we should explore some of the lesser works as well as the two masterpieces. That, surely, is what a literary biography should do above all: send you back to the work." --The Independent

"A highly readable introduction to a marvellous and still underrated writer." --The Telegraph

"Mr Ackroyd is a consummate literary critic and he neatly weaves analysis of Collins's works into the chronology of his life ... compulsive reading." --The Economist