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Wilkie Collins

Book Overview: 

Basil, son of a father who values the family pedigree and who would not let him marry below his station, falls in love at first sight with a girl he sees on a bus. He stalks her and discovers she is Margaret Sherwin, only daughter of a linen draper. He stalks her and persuades her father to let him marry her secretly. He agrees on the condition, that, as his daughter is only seventeen, they live apart for the first year. At first the secret works, but then the mysterious Mannion, whose emotions cannot be read in his face, returns from abroad. On the last night of the year Basil follows Margaret and Mannion and discovers them in flagrante delicto. (Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .You will not probably be surprised to hear that I was struck by Miss Sherwin's extreme beauty. The impression she made on me was something more, however, than a mere momentary feeling of admiration. To speak candidly, I felt—You have heard of such a thing as love at first sight, Mr. Sherwin?"

"In books, Sir." He tapped one of the morocco-bound volumes on the table, and smiled—a curious smile, partly deferential and partly sarcastic.

"You would be inclined to laugh, I dare say, if I asked you to believe that there is such a thing as love at first sight, out of books. But, without dwelling further on that, it is my duty to confess to you, in all candour and honesty, that the impression Miss Sherwin produced on me was such as to make me desire the privilege of becoming acquainted with her. In plain words, I discovered her place of residence by following her to this house."

"Upon my soul this is the most extraordinary proceeding&m. . . Read More

Community Reviews

One of the best books that I have ever read. I couldn't stop reading it. Everytime you thought that the story was winding down, something CRAZY would happen. I am so in love with the author, Wilkie Collins. He is seriously my ideal author. Read this book...now.

Wilkie Collins is one of the most underrated writers of the Victorian period. His The Woman in White was an outright masterpiece; The Moonstone was good, if a bit overlong. I enjoyed Basil, his second novel, despite all the high melodrama.

Basil (no last name given) is the younger son of a British...more

I really enjoyed this engaging novel by Wilkie Collins, which was my second Collins novel! The novel addresses various themes and points, such as father- child relationship, class distinction, gender, communication vs poor communication, the important role of family in one's life, appearance vs....more

If Basil would've just chilled out and not demanded a secret marriage with the first girl he saw who struck his fancy, he wouldn't have had any problems (nor a story, I guess). Basil is so naive and entitled throughout the entire story that it was hard for me to have any sympathy for him. Some we...more


There is something I love about a Wilkie Collins novel. I think it is the way he builds the mystery and suspense without any overtly horrible occurrences. I thought Basil rather soft-headed and unsympathetic in the beginning, but as the story progressed, I began to feel real concern for this y...more

After a couple dull & disappointing tales by Wilkie, this melodramatic & racy little romp restored my faith in the old boy.

Even for a second novel, it displays a lot of the traits one expects from Collins in his later, more mature works. There's social commentary aplenty, a shady female,...more

Basil is Wilkie Collins's second novel. In Basil we see the emergence of the style and techniques that would lead to the future success and strength of Collins's sensation novels. While Basil offers only staggered glimpses of a major Victorian novelist, it is still a novel well-worth reading. In...more

All great relationships begin with a little old-fashioned stalking!

The title character, Basil, is son of a man who treasures the family name above anything else. Basil sees dark beauty Margaret on a bus (actually an omnibus, but to modernize it for the comprehension of others we're going to stick...more

I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results …

All hail serendipity! I did not know of the existence of Wilkie Collins’s novel Basil until a few days ago, when I finished reading William Godwin’s Caleb Williams, and saw Col...more

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