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Embarrassed

Graham Hough

7 October 1982
Thomas Hardy: A Biography 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 637 pp., £15, June 1982, 0 19 211725 4
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. III: 1902-1908 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 367 pp., £19.50, July 1982, 0 19 812620 4
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The Neglected Hardy: Thomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels 
by Richard Taylor.
Macmillan, 202 pp., £17.50, May 1982, 0 333 31051 9
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Good Little Thomas Hardy 
by C.H. Salter.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 333 29387 8
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Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form 
by Penny Boumelha.
Harvester, 178 pp., £18.95, April 1982, 0 7108 0018 5
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Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy 
by Arlene Jackson.
Macmillan, 151 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 32303 3
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... modest phrase. The unmistakable Hardy is present, even among the near-absurdities of the Wilkie Collins plot – as he is present in different fashions throughout the minor works. Present in moods of lesser tension that are worth recalling as a real part of Hardy’s achievement. This is thoughtful criticism exercised on a subject that was well ...

Dependencies

Elizabeth Young

25 February 1993
The Case of Anna Kavan 
by David Callard.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, January 1993, 0 7206 0867 8
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... Kavan’s ability to lead an orderly life and to write so productively and consistently recall Wilkie Collins or George Crabbe, the latter like Kavan an addict for forty years. Kavan was a dedicated writer but she believed that her will to write – rather, her will to live – came from the heroin which protected her from a menacing world. This ...

Diamond Daggers

Stephen Wall

28 June 1990
Death’s Darkest Face 
by Julian Symons.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 333 51783 0
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Vendetta 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 281 pp., £12.99, June 1990, 0 571 14332 6
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Gallowglass 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 296 pp., £13.99, March 1990, 0 670 83241 3
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... the crafted symmetries of the book’s construction, but – as Trollope complained when reading Wilkie Collins – it’s difficult to lose the taste of the construction. Motivation is too exactly tailored to produce the results required by the plot; the very proficiency with which the characters function in what is admittedly an effortless read makes ...

Diary

Andrew Saint: Foscolo’s Grave

20 September 2007
... is conjured up as the wicked Count Fosco of St John’s Wood. The travesty was probably relayed to Wilkie Collins by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose exiled father had met Foscolo once and did not get on with him at all. By the spring of 1824, with Floriana’s inheritance spent and the tradesmen-creditors massing, Digamma had to be abandoned. After that ...

Am I intruding?

Peter Campbell: Open Windows

3 November 2011
Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century 
by Sabine Rewald.
Yale, 190 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 300 16977 5
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... and I said to myself (with a sense of surprise which words fail me to express), The lady is ugly! Wilkie Collins uses the withheld information of a back view to preface a revelation. A painter can’t do that. In pictures the effect is more often to make you wonder, not how a person looks, but what they think about the view that you and they ...

At Manchester Art Gallery

Inigo Thomas: Annie Swynnerton

27 September 2018
... at the Manchester Academy of Fine Art, which meant they had less chance to sell their work. Wilkie Collins described the taste and enthusiasms of the self-made industrialists of the mid-19th century: they wanted paintings, he said, with ‘interesting subjects, variety, resemblance to nature, genuineness of the article, and fresh paint’. So there ...

To be continued

Brigid Brophy

6 November 1980
The Mystery of Edwin Drood 
by Charles Dickens and Leon Garfield.
Deutsch, 327 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 233 97257 9
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... if magnificently, another Dickens novel or a true mystery in the genre classically established by Wilkie Collins with The Moonstone, which Dickens had published two years earlier in All the Year Round? Either answer points to considerable complexity of plot in the second half. Forster’s recollection that the story was to concern ‘the murder of a ...

Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels

31 October 2002
Fingersmith 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... British press in 1857. Fire-eaters like Charles Dickens approved heartily; his friend and disciple Wilkie Collins was appalled. And Flashy? He’s just a soldier who’s seen it all and has no illusions. Thomas Hughes dedicated his novel to ‘the great army of Browns who are scattered all over the whole Empire on which the sun never sets’. Fraser ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair

22 December 1994
Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... taken in conjunction with the club’s ‘few first editions of Conan Doyle, Poe, Le Fanu and Wilkie Collins’, is enough to invoke, by conditioned reflex, the Agatha Christie cornerstone, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Or as Derek Raymond (Robin Cook) frequently proclaimed, paraphrasing Edmund Wilson: ‘who gives a fuck who killed Roger ...
9 July 1992
English Music 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 241 12501 4
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... Wuthering Heights to Ford Madox Brown to George Eliot to Whistler to Edwin Drood (I think) and to Wilkie Collins. The effect is like an unseen examination for Joint Honours in English Art and Literature, except that while Ackroyd trusts the ‘scholarly reader’ to recognise the literary gobbets, he slips him a crib to the slide-test. There are no doubt ...

Wall Furniture

Nicholas Penny: Dickens and Anti-Art

24 May 2012
... 13 September 1856 the leading contribution was an anonymous article written by Dickens’s friend Wilkie Collins and entitled ‘To think, or be thought for’. The pretext for the piece was a controversy in the correspondence columns of the Times concerning a picture by ‘the old Venetian painter Bellini’ recently acquired for the National ...
26 September 1991
Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Murray, 320 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 7195 4910 8
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Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper 
by Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan.
Oxford, 218 pp., £30, August 1991, 9780198117858
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... a far more haunting version – slight as it may be – of the prototype tales in Poe and Wilkie Collins. On the other hand, too ponderous a reliance on the procession of the factual can be a nemesis for Conrad’s method, as it is in the leaden apotheosis of Nostromo, the fatalistic adventure-epic of Patusan in Lord Jim, and the excessively ...

Like a Retired Madam

Rosemary Dinnage: Entranced!

4 February 1999
Mesmerised: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain 
by Alison Winter.
Chicago, 464 pp., £23.95, December 1998, 0 226 90219 6
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... possibilities were being incorporated into literature – in works by Dickens, Shelley, Poe, Wilkie Collins, Balzac, Browning, Melville, Hawthorne. Its best-known appearance is in du Maurier’s Trilby, which came out in the 1890s, a darker and more sophisticated time than the 1840s. Svengali here is not a benign healer but a force for evil: He’s ...
3 May 1984
The Letters of Anthony Trollope 
edited by John Hall.
Stanford, 1082 pp., $87.50, July 1983, 0 8047 1076 7
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Anthony Trollope: Dream and Art 
by Andrew Wright.
Macmillan, 173 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34593 2
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... Life’. There is no necessary discrepancy between the Trollope of the letters and the man of whom Wilkie Collins said: ‘He was an incarnate gale of wind. He blew off my hat; he turned my umbrella inside out.’ The bluster and vulgarity with which he was sometimes taxed do not appear in the letters. On the other hand, he never kicks up his heels as ...

New Women

Patricia Beer

17 July 1980
The Odd Women 
by George Gissing.
Virago, 336 pp., £2.50, May 1980, 0 86068 140 8
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The Beth Book 
by Sarah Grand.
Virago, 527 pp., £3.50, January 1980, 0 86068 088 6
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... of the new sexual type had in fact taken place forty years earlier when, in The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins offset his pretty, insipid, helpless heroine by a second heroine who was none of these things: the great Marian Halcombe, whose charm subdued not only the equally great Count Fosco in the book but also such men of the readership as Swinburne ...

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