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Wilkie Collins 1824 - 1889 Although Wilkie Collins was one of the most popular novelists of his day his reputation now rests on the novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone An expert in mystery suspense and crime he is often regarded as the inventor of the detective story The eldest son of the landscape artist William Collins RA Wilkie Collins was born in London Marylebone in 1824 He came from a family of artists His brother Charles Allston Collins was a close friend of the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - particularly John Everett Millais and Holman Hunt Though never a full member he exhibited twelve pictures in the Royal Academy and made his living for some years by painting Wilkies father William Collins RA became an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1814 and a full member in 1820 He created more than two hundred pictures and was one of the most famous artists of his day with patrons among the wealthy and aristocracy His mother Harriet Geddes also came from an artistic family and his aunt Margaret Carpenter was a well-known portrait painter Educated for a few years at private schools in London Wilkie Collins was thirteen years old when the family moved to Italy and its here that he gained his real education Rebelling against his fathers strict religious code and conservative values he refused to settle into life either in the tea business or as a barrister and remained adamant that he would write His first book a biography of his father was published in 1848 A close friend of and a travelling companion to Charles Dickens with whom he spent much time during the 1850s Collins wrote regularly for Dickenss periodicals Household Words and All the Year Round The two men shared a keen interest in the theatre as well as in Londons high life and Dickens acted in two early melodramas that Wilkie Collins had
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