When the elderly Allan Armadale makes a terrible confession on his death-bed, he has little idea of the repercussions to come, for the secret he reveals involves the mysterious Lydia Gwilt: flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband-poisoner. Her malicious intrigues fuel the plot of this gripping melodrama: a tale of confused identities, inherited curses, romantic rivalries, espionage, money—and murder. The character of Lydia Gwilt horrified contemporary critics, with one reviewer describing her as “One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction.” She remains among the most enigmatic and fascinating women in nineteenth-century literature and the dark heart of this most sensational of Victorian “sensation novels.”
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William Wilkie Collins was born in London in 1824, the eldest son of a successful painter, William Collins. He studied law and was admitted to the bar but never practiced his nominal profession, devoting his time to writing instead. His… More about Wilkie Collins