Wilkie Collins, Basil

Stephen Knight (University of Melbourne)
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When the young Wilkie Collins turned to writing novels, his first efforts were historical:


was set in the Pacific in the past, but was rejected by two publishers, and did not appear until 1999.


(1850) was classical, an account of the Goths attacking Rome, with a woman among their leaders. Then Collins turned to modern fiction with


(1852). He asserted the story’s contemporary force in the sub-title

A Story of Modern Life

, and the main title suggests how the story is dominated by Basil’s viewpoint, experiences and developed feelings. The publisher, Richard Bentley, accepted the manuscript in 1852 and Collins, with the encouragement of Dickens, negotiated for the copyright the considerable sum of £350 – which today would be £350,000.

For the period Basil is a

2281 words

Citation: Knight, Stephen. "Basil". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 September 2022 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=9750, accessed 12 June 2024.]

9750 Basil 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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