Download Wilkie Collins: A Brief Life Audiobook

Wilkie Collins: A Brief Life Audiobook, by Peter Ackroyd Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Peter Ackroyd Narrator: Gildart Jackson Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2015 ISBN: 9781504636728
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A gripping, short biography of the extraordinary Wilkie Collins, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White, two early masterpieces of mystery and detection

Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely near-sighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colorful clothes—Wilkie Collins looked distinctly strange. But he was nonetheless 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 lifelong friendship with the other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. In addition to his enduring masterpieces, The Moonstone—often called the first true detective novel—and the sensational The Woman in White, Collins 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 humor and sympathetic understanding.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Mr. Ackroyd is a consummate literary critic, and he neatly weaves analysis of Collins’ works into the chronology of his life…Compulsive reading.”


  • “Ackroyd shows in his study…a Victorian writer who was a major creator of the detective novel…Ackroyd is himself a prodigious writer of biography, history, and fiction. He’s clearly at home in Victorian England and has an obvious affection for his subject. The gift of his book is to take Collins out of Dickens’ shadow.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A highly readable introduction to a marvelous and still underrated writer.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “A perfect little biography.”

    Mail on Sunday (London)

  • “All of it, though firmly rooted in time and place, adds up to a universally salient and timely story of love against all odds.”


  • “This compact but detailed biography illuminates…one of the Victorian era’s most popular authors…[who] flouted Victorian mores and sometimes incensed critics with his realistic depictions of working-class life and the plight of women. The depiction of Collins as an artist afflicted with gout and neuralgia who worked himself to the brink of nervous prostration with each book he wrote makes him as interesting as one of his own fictional characters. Ackroyd’s appraisal of his subject—that ‘he breathed upon facts and kindled them into life’—is applicable to his own achievement here.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Ackroyd, a prolific writer acclaimed for his histories of London and the Thames, adds a new author to his oeuvre of great lives concisely chronicled…Ackroyd’s approachable narrative and the book’s near-pocket size will appeal to Collins fans.”

    Library Journal

  • “A compact, pithy, and generous biography of a novelist who found great success despite writing in the age of Dickens, Eliot, and Trollope.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week

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About the Author

Peter Ackroyd has written acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More, as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature’s W. H. Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Show Award for Literature.

About the Narrator

Gildart Jackson’s acting credits span the stage and screen. He is most often recognized for his roles as Gideon on Charmed and Simon Prentiss on General Hospital. He has also starred in numerous television shows, including CSI and Vegas, and he played the lead in the highly acclaimed independent feature film You, directed by his wife, Melora Hardin.