Author Andrew Lycett reveals private life of detective novelist Wilkie Collins at Primrose Hill Library

PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 October 2013

Author Andrew Lycett at a reading of his book about Wilkie Collins at Primrose Hill Library

Author Andrew Lycett at a reading of his book about Wilkie Collins at Primrose Hill Library


Described as a revelation of “sex, drugs and prolific fiction”, a biography detailing the private life of one of the greatest detective novelists was revealed in an illustrated talk at Primrose Hill Community Library.

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation by Andrew Lycett peels away the private life of the former Hampstead resident who wrote what T.S. Eliot deemed “the first and greatest English detective novel of all time”, The Moonstone, in 1868.

Collins’ novels have been celebrated for exposing some of the secrecies hidden in Victorian life.

An unmarried, committed opium addict with two different families, Collins had his secrets laid bare by author Mr Lycett during a talk at the library on October 14.

Mr Lycett, 64, who lives in Primrose Hill, said: “His life was full of sensational experiences and yet I was surprised at how he still managed to remain his own man.

“He never got married and he was never seduced by high Victorian society.

“His story has such a great relevance to the local area as well.

“He used to live in Hampstead, at the site where the Royal Free Hospital sits now, and he would often write his novels in Highgate – which he used to refer to as ‘the countryside’.”

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