Ackroyd at his best - a gripping short life of the extraordinary Wilkie Collins, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White.
Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely short-sighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colourful clothes, Wilkie Collins looked distinctly strange. But he was none the less a charmer, befriended by the great, loved by children, irresistibly attractive to women – and avidly read by generations of readers.
Peter Ackroyd follows his hero, ‘the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists’, from his childhood as the son of a well-known artist to his struggling beginnings as a writer, his years of fame and his life-long friendship with the other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. As well as his enduring masterpieces, The Moonstone – often called the first true detective novel – and the sensational The Woman in White, he produced an intriguing array of lesser-known works.
Told with Ackroyd’s inimitable verve, this is a ravishingly entertaining life of a great storyteller, full of surprises, rich in humour and sympathetic understanding.
“Four stars, (A) perfect little biography”
Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
“With deft strokes, Peter Ackroyd’s biography portrays his character and sets him in context, weaving critical appraisals seamlessly into the story of his life. The bravura of this biography lies in its brilliantly judged brevity.”
Iain Finlayson, The Times
Andrew Taylor, Independent
“This biography is compulsive reading”
Judith Flanders, Sunday Telegraph
“Neat and informative”
DJ Taylor, Independent on Sunday
Lesley McDowell, Glasgow Sunday Herald
“Concise but wide-ranging… A fitting tribute to [Collins’] legacy”
Sally Morris, Daily Mail