July 19 , 2007

After Dark


Wilkie Collins wrote this collection of six short stories in 1859, three years before he would pen his first masterpiece, 'The Woman in White.' 

*'The Traveller's Story of A Terribly Strange Bed' was originally published on 24 April 1852 as Collins's first contribution to Household Words. 

'The Lawyer's Story of A Stolen Letter' is an early detective story, probably influenced by Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Purloined Letter'. It was originally published with the title 'The Fourth Poor Traveller' in 'The Seven Poor Travellers', the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words for December 1854. The narrator is a lawyer who contrives, in a series of ingenious moves, to steal back an incriminating letter from a blackmailer. The letter contains a confession to an attempted forgery by the dead father of a poor young governess, Miss Smith. The lawyer's success enables her marriage to a rich young man, Frank Gatliffe, to take place without the threat of scandal. 

'The French Governess's Story of Sister Rose' is a long short story originally published in Household Words 7-28 April 1855. There is an added Prologue included in this version for After Dark. The first separate publication was a pirated edition by Petersons of Philadelphia in 1855 where it was wrongly attributed to Dickens. 

'The Angler's Story of The Lady of Glenwith Grange' was published for the first time in After Dark. 

Ida Welwyn promises her dying mother that she will always look after her younger sister, Rosamond. Against Ida's better instincts, Rosamond marries Baron Franval whom she meets in Paris. A French police agent exposes the Baron as an impostor called Monbrun and he is killed while trying to escape. Rosamond dies of shock leaving her retarded daughter to be brought up by the reclusive Ida at Glenwith Grange. 

'The Nun's Story of Gabriel's Marriage' was originally published in Household Words, 16-23 April 1853. The plot was rewritten as the basis for the play The Lighthouse in 1855. 

The scene is Brittany at the time of the French Revolution. Gabriel Sarzeau becomes estranged from his fisherman father when he discovers that he committed a murder. Before his marriage, Gabriel confesses his knowledge to Father Paul, a fugitive priest. Father Paul reveals that he was the victim but survived his wounds. He performs the marriage ceremony, forgives his attacker, and reconciles father and son. 

'The Professor's Story of The Yellow Mask' was originally published in Household Words, 7-28 July 1855. 

This complete unabridged edition includes original illustrations by renowned Victorian artist John Evertt Millais. 

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