Thursday, 29 June 2017

A Life of Sensation Read-a-Long: EPOCHS TWO AND THREE

Please note that alternative titles for this book include:
 The Lives of Everybody Wilkie Collins Passed in the Street
Wilkie Collins: A Life of Infection.

Welcome to the second check-in of the read-a-long hosted by Rambo Reads. We're reading Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation, a biography of the weirdly-shaped-headed author of The Woman in White and The Moonstone.

Not only have I completed the reading sort-of-on-time (even if this post is late), I also finished my reread of The Moonstone (click for review) which I loved possibly even more than I did the first time. 

After you've removed the detailed ramblings about every single person that featured in Wilkie Collins' life, here is what we're left with:

  • Wilkie knew a lot of people. By definition, we therefore now also know about a lot of people. I admit to skimming some of these lengthy portions about people I have never before heard of, and never will again. Although I do intend to name my first-born 'Augustus Egg.'
  • We've finally started learning about his novels, although we haven't got to The Moonstone yet. The Woman in White made Wilkie a rich man - about £100,000 in today's money. I've ordered some of his other books already, so I've tried to skim past the plot explanations.
  • 'Although not yet thirty, Wilkie was already showing signs of wear.'Ha. Same.
  • His gout is starting to play up quite badly, which sucks because he's still in his 30s. Partly self-inflicted, but I don't think they knew as much about the causes back then so we probably shouldn't judge him too harshly?
  • Somehow he runs into the Pope down a random street in Italy. Somehow. Am I the only one starting to take his anecdotes with a pinch of salt?
  • He also tells all his friends that his maid is trying to watch him pee. Is she though, Wilkie? Is she!? 

    Because, while I'm sure there's nothing quite as erotic as a gouty, middle-aged, stoned womaniser trying to pee, I quite simply doesn't trust you. Or your 'Person.'
  • Charles Dickens referred to himself as 'Inimitable.' Of course he did. And to Wilkie as an 'amiable fantasist,' which makes a lot more sense.
  • They also had facial hair growing competitions. These are the men we idolise and cherish for their literative skills... and they amuse themselves by seeing who can grow the biggest moustache *headdesk*
  • Wilkie and Dickens caught a lot of veneral diseases. Like, a lot. We should play a drinking game where every time Lycett says 'this can be interpreted to mean that he was again suffering from gonorrhea,' we take a shot. Except we'd end up with gout.

    So. Many. Diseases.
  • I love how Wilkie has a reputation for being sort of interested in the right of mental health patients, or at least the ones who have been locked away for having an inconvenient vagina. I have a Masters in Mental Health Law and that period of time is fascinating.

See you next week for Epochs Four and Five! 


  1. This was hilarious! Thanks for giving me a much needed Thursday evening laugh. The book sounds fascinating too.

  2. I am glad not only that we both skimmed ALL THOSE non-Wilkie-or-Dickens people AND that we both have an appreciation for the name Augustus Egg. He was the only person I almost paid more attention to.

    You know, there's a lot about how people had to help Wilkie out financially before he hit it big. Then I don't remember seeing stuff about Wilkie paying people back or paying it forward or something after his Woman in White payday.

    I forgot to the mention the facial hair growing competition. THIS is why readalongs are the best.

    1. I WANTED to pay attention to all those other people, but I just couldn't. There are so many of them!

      That's true; I hadn't picked up on that. He did pay for his partner's daughter's school though, so he can't have been that miserly? And it's possible the pay-back just wasn't documented, I suppose.

      I love Wilkie, and I adore his writing (definitely more than Dickens - it still boggles me how Dickens is more renowened), but I'm beginning to see that he may not have been all that pleasant to deal with!

      That was my favourite part this week :)


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