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Wilkie Collins' sixth novel took the fashionable world by storm on its appearance in 1860, when everything from dances to dresses was named after the woman in white. Nicholas Rance is the author of Historical Novel and Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century England.
Wilkie Collins was born in London on 8 January 1824. His father was the landscape painter William Collins. After school he worked for a tea merchant before studying to become a lawyer. In 1848 he published a biography of his father and his first novel, Antonina, followed in 1850. In 1851 he met Charles Dickens who would later edit and publish some of his novels. Collins's novels were extremely popular in his own time as well as now. The Woman in White (1859), No Name (1862), Armadale (1866) and The Moonstone (1868) are his best known works. Collins was linked with two women (one of whom bore him three children) but he never married. He died on 23 September 1889.