• Sensation Stories

Tales of mystery and suspense by the author of The Woman in White and The Moonstone.

The ‘Sensation Novel’ ushered in the modern mystery genre. It was inaugurated by Wilkie Collins’s best-seller The Woman in White in 1860. But this collection, selected by Peter Haining, reveals that Collins had actually been writing realistic stories of suspense for at least a decade before this. With dramatic plots that revolved around hidden secrets, bloody crimes, villainous schemes and clever detective work all occurring in everyday settings, Wilkie Collins helped to shape a new genre that was worlds away from anything being written by his contemporaries — and one that was to have a far-reaching influence.

Sensation Stories ranges from Collins’s earliest tales and those published under the auspices of his great friend Charles Dickens to the title piece from his last, melancholic collection. Among several famous yarns and stories not published for over a hundred years is one featuring a pioneer female detective and another that has been called the first British detective story. There is a ghost story controversial for its eroticism, the first humorous or satirical detective story and a story that clearly prefigures The Woman in White, published two years later.

Thrilling reads in their own right, all ten stories showcase Wilkie Collins’s towering contribution to the development of the mystery genre. Indeed, he is now regarded as the inventor of the modern detective story and the forefather of a crime fiction tradition that runs through Arthur Conan Doyle to Thomas Harris today.

Edited and introduced by Peter Haining
‘A great read &hellip the style is easy, colloquial, thoroughly modern, the places richly realised, and the characters passionate, in ten tales brimful of emotion and event, atmosphere and expectation … Still sensational after all these years – true classics, ripe for rediscovery.’ – Word
‘This superb new collection … illustrates why this influential Victorian author is regarded as the father the modern mystery genre … Peter Haining’s excellent and informative introduction sets the scene on this pioneering author.’ – * * * * * What’s On In London
‘Most entertaining . . . The volume as a whole and its excellent introduction by the editor, Peter Haining, should fill a gap in many people’s understanding of how mystery fiction developed.’ – Tablet
‘Wilkie Collins is the one man of unmistakable genius who has an affinity with Dickens . . . there were no two men who could touch them at a ghost story.’ – G.K. Chesterton
‘To Mr. Collins belongs the credit of having introduced into fiction those most mysterious of mysteries, the mysteries which are at our own doors.’ – Henry James
‘A master of plot and situation.’ – T.S. Eliot


WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS (1824–1889) was an English novelist, playwright, and short story writer, best-known for The Woman in White and The Moonstone, two novels which are commonly thought to have founded the 'sensation novel' and the modern English detective novel, respectively. Born into the family of painter William Collins in London, he lived with his family in Italy and France as a child and learned French and Italian. He worked as a clerk for a tea merchant. After his first novel, Antonina, was published in 1850, he met Charles Dickens, who became a close friend, mentor and collaborator. Some of Collins's works were first published in Dickens' journals All the Year Round and Household Words and the two collaborated on drama and fiction. Collins published his best known works in the 1860s, achieved financial stability and an international reputation that endures to this day.
Bibliographic Data
Date Published 14th April 2004
ISBN Number 9780720612202
Pages 280

Sensation Stories

  • £14.99


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