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Wilkie Collins was born on 8 January 1824 and died on 23 September 1889. In those 65 years he wrote 27 novels, more than 50 short stories, at least 15 plays, and more than 100 non-fiction pieces. A close friend of Charles Dickens from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens's bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has for fifty years. Almost all his books are in print, he is studied widely, and new film and television versions of some of his books have been made. Nevertheless, there is still much to be discovered about this superstar of Victorian fiction.
The Woman in White (1859-60) is the first and greatest 'Sensation Novel'. Walter Hartright's mysterious midnight encounter with the woman in white draws him into a vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue. The novel is dominated by two of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction - Marion Halcombe, dark, mannish, yet irresistibly fascinating, and Count Fosco, the sinister and flamboyant 'Napoleon of Crime'.A masterwork of intricate construction, The Woman in White sets new standards of suspense and excitement, and achieved sales which topped even those of Dickens, Collins's friend and mentor.
A fabulous diamond becomes Rachel Verinder's dangerous inheritance. Outside her house watch the Hindu priests who have waited many years to reclaim their looted talisman. When the Moonstone disappears, the case looks simple, but no-one is what they seem, and nothing can be taken for granted.
Written 150 years ago, never published, and presumed lost for nearly a century, Wilkie Collins's earliest novel now appears in print for the first time. Iolani is a sensational romance--a tale of terror and suspense, bravery and betrayal, set against the lush backdrop of Tahiti. The book's complicated history is worthy of a writer famous for intricate plots hinging on long-kept secrets. Collins wrote the book as a young man in the early 1840s, twenty years before The Moonstone and The Woman in White made his name among Victorian novelists. He failed to find a publisher for the work, shelved the manuscript for years, and eventually gave it to an acquaintance. It disappeared into the hands of private collectors and remained there--acquiring mythical status as a lost novel--from the turn of the century until its sudden appearance on the rare book market in New York in 1991. This first edition appears with the permission of the new owners, who keep the mystery alive by remaining anonymous. The novel is set in Tahiti prior to European contact. It tells the story of the diabolical high priest, Iolani , and the heroic young woman, Idua, who bears his child. Determined to defy the Tahitian custom of killing firstborn children, Idua and her friend Aimata flee with the baby and take refuge among Iolani's enemies. The vengeful priest pursues them, setting into motion a plot that features civil war, sorcery, sacrificial rites, wild madmen, treachery, and love. Collins explores themes that he would return to again and again in his career: oppression by sinister, patriarchal figures; the bravery of forceful, unorthodox women; the psychology of the criminal mind; the hypocrisy of moralists; and Victorian ideas of the exotic. As Ira Nadel shows in his introduction, the novel casts new light on Collins's development as a writer and on the creation of his later masterpieces. A sample page from the manuscript appears as the frontispiece to this edition. The publication of Iolani is a major literary event: a century and half late, Wilkie Collins makes his literary debut. Originally published in 1999. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
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