Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Collins, Crime & Sergeant Cuff

As Steve King at notes, on this day in 1824, the Victorian mystery novelist Wilkie Collins was born.

Though many of Collins's twenty-five novels are now little-read, his "gaslight thrillers" were once very popular, and two -- The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868) -- have not only stayed in print but grown in reputation. Critics and historians view Collins as a master of suspense and the first in English crime fiction to bring psychological depth and literary flair to tales so sensational and lurid that they would otherwise belong to the crime tabloids. Collins attributed his popularity to the old adage, 'make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em wait,' which he said he borrowed from the music hall, though it might just as easily have come from his good friend Charles Dickens. Whatever Collins's formula, Victorian England lined up at the publisher's to get his next installment -- and sang "The Woman in White Waltz," and wore 'Woman in White' perfume, and bought out the first printing of that book in a day. It has not been out of print since, and has been turned into a play and a handful of movies.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

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