Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/60

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Collins
Collins
48

Hunt formed members of his circle, over which his mother still presided), and subsequently to Harley Street. He died at 82 Wimpole Street on 23 Sept. 1889, and was buried five days later in Kensal Green cemetery. A portrait of Wilkie Collins as a boy with his brother C. A. Collins was painted by A. Geddes. Another, painted in later life, by Rudolf Lehmann, belongs to Mr. R. C. Lehmann (Cat. Victorian Exhib. Nos. 258, 265).

The influence of Dickens is very clearly traceable in Collins's work, yet there is reason to believe that Collins had nearly as much influence upon the latest works of the greater writer as Dickens had upon him. Dickens longed to shine as an elaborator of plots, while Collins, the past master of the plot, aspired to be a delineator of character and to produce didactic fiction and reformatory romance after the Dickensian model. He succeeded in evolving some good characters in 'No Name' and 'Armadale,' but his best figures are semi-burlesque, such as John Bettertdge and Captain Wragge, and even, to a certain extent, Count Fosco. In his anxiety to individualise them he made them too much like 'character parts.' The actors having been brought on the stage, a well-defined object is set before the performers, the discovery of a secret or a crime, the recovery of a fortune, or the vindication of a doubtful marriage certificate, counter-plotters are introduced and obstacles accumulated ; but eventually, after a display of the utmost ingenuity, the object is attained. In order to give ' actuality ' to the story, the latter is often conducted by means of extracts from diaries, personal narratives, and excerpts from documents, of which the author poses as editor. In the course of these operations the author has the gift, as Mr. Swinburne justly observes, of 'exciting a curiosity, which in the case of the younger and more impressible readers amounts to anxiety.' If Coleridge had known 'The Moonstone,' he might well have given it a place beside 'The Alchemist' and 'Tom Jones' for ingenuity of plot. ' The construction is most minute and most wonderful,' wrote Anthony Trollope of his fellow novelist, ' but I can never lose the taste of the construction. The author seems always warning me to remember that something happened at exactly half-past two o'clock on Tuesday morning, or that a woman disappeared from the road just fifteen yards beyond the fourth milestone' (Autobiogr. ii. 82). Among the 'breathless admirers' of 'The Woman in White' was Edward Fitzgerald, who thought of calling his herring-lugger the Marian Halcombe. Wilkie Collins's style is unornamented, but well adapted to keep the reader's mind clear amid the complications of the story. He corrected and rewrote extensively, and most of his manuscript was very heavily scored.

The following is a list of Collins's most important publications : 1. 'Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, R.A. By his Son,' London, 1848, 2 vols. 12mo. 2. 'Antonina, or the Fall of Rome. A Romance of the Fifth Century,' 1850, 8vo. 3. 'Basil: a Story of Modern Life,' 1852, 8vo. 4. 'Hide and Seek : ' a story of deafness and dumbness, 1854 (French version, 'Cache-Cache,' 1877). 5. 'After Dark' (short stories), 1856. 6. ' The Dead Secret : 'a sensational story, embodying a study of blindness, 1857 (French version as ' Le Secret,' 1858). 7. 'The Queen of Hearts : a Collection of Stories with a connecting Link,' 1860. (It was dedicated to E. Daurand Forgues, who inscribed his ' Originaux . . . de 1'Angleterre Contemporaine' to Collins in the same year.) 8. 'The Woman in White,' 1860 (dedicated to Barry Cornwall ; seven editions appeared within six months, and several translations). 9. 'No Name,' 1862 (numerous editions). 10. 'My Miscellanies,' 1863, 2 vols. 8vo. (vol. ii. contains an interesting sketch of an old friend, Douglas Jerrold). 11. 'Armadale,' 1866 : a study of heredity, containing the character portrait of Lydia Gwilt. 12. 'The Moonstone: a Romance,' 1868 (' La Pierre de Lune,' 1872). 13. 'Man and Wife,' 1870 : an attack on the brutalising effect of an undue devotion to athletics ('Mari et Femme,' 1872). 14. 'Poor Miss Finch,' 1872 (' Pauvre Lucile ! ' 1876). 15. ' The New Magdalen,' 1873 (numerous editions ; in French, 'La Morte Vivante,' 1873). 16. 'The Frozen Deep' and other stories (first issued in America), 1874 ('La Mer Glaciale,' 1877). 17. 'The Law and the Lady,' 1875 ; aimed against the Scottish verdict of 'not proven' ('La Piste du Crime,' 1875). 18. 'The Two Destinies,' 1876: a telepathic story, very ingeniously written, and the best of his later works. 19. 'The Haunted Hotel' (a mystery of modern Venice), 1878. 20. 'The Fallen Leaves,' 1879. 21. 'Jezebel's Daughter,' 1880. 22. 'The Black Robe,' 1881. 23. 'Heart and Science,' 1883. 24. 'I say No,' 1884. 25. 'The Evil Genius,' 1886. 26. 'The Legacy of Cain,' 1888. 27. 'Blind Love' (this was running through the 'Illustrated London News' at the time of the novelist's death). Nearly all the above were included in the Tauchnitz 'Collection of British Authors,'