Creator / Wilkie Collins

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William Wilkie Collins (1824 – 1889) was an English writer best known for his novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone (arguably the first detective novel in English literature).

He was a close friend of Charles Dickens, and several of his novels were originally serialised in Dickens' magazine All the Year Round.

Works by Wilkie Collins with their own trope pages include:


Other works by Wilkie Collins provide examples of:

  • And Some Other Stuff: The chemicals used to make the poisonous gas in Armadale.
  • Bastard Angst: The titular "dead secret" in The Dead Secret is that protagonist Rosamund is actually an illegitimate child passed off as an heiress. This causes much internal and external conflict, as her husband refuses to accept her inheritance.
  • Cut Short: The Fallen Leaves was intended to be the first part of a larger series. Thanks to poor sales, the series went no further.
  • Descending Ceiling: In "A Terribly Strange Bed", some innkeepers murder (in order to rob) their guests by giving them a canopied bed where the canopy can be silently lowered to smother the sleeper.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A sailor describes the heroine of No Name as having "a clean run fore and and aft".
  • In the Blood: Armadale revolves around this trope; a young man who has (for unrelated reasons) adopted a pseudonym meets another young man who shares his birth name of Allan Armadale. They become fast friends, until the first young man discovers that his father had murdered the father of the other Allan Armadale. He spends much of the rest of the novel haunted by his father's conviction that the sons are destined to repeat the fathers' fatal feud.
  • Inn of No Return: In A Terribly Strange Bed.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: In The Fallen Leaves one character takes care to make their suicide look like an accidental overdose.
  • Murphy's Bed: In A Terribly Strange Bed.
  • One Steve Limit: The aversion is a big plot point in Armadale, which features five different characters named Allan Armadale: the "original" Allan Armadale, uncle of the one, father of the other Allan Armadale of the older generation of Armadales, who disowned the son to make the nephew his heir, starting the feud.
  • The Ophelia: Simple Sally in The Fallen Leaves, though her mental health improves once she's rescued from her life as a prostitute.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Valeria Brinton of The Law and the Lady is ladylike, graceful, and devoted to her husband. She also becomes one of the first amateur female detectives in the nineteenth-century novel.
  • Sudden Name Change: In the Project Gutenberg text of The Haunted Hotel, Lord Montbarry's eldest daughter's name changes from Lucy to Marian between chapters. The same slip is present in the French edition.
  • Writer on Board: A complaint about his later books. As Swinburne put it:
    What brought good Wilkie’s genius nigh perdition?
    Some demon whispered –“Wilkie, have a mission!”
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Collins seems to have been fond of this trope; Lydia Gwilt in Armadale and Captain Wragge in No Name are both excellent Xanatos Speed Chess players.

Alternative Title(s): William Wilkie Collins

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