Wilkie Collins lived out the double identities of his characters

Scene from BBC adaption of The Woman in White.

Of all the 19th century Fitzrovians who had secret families, Wilkie Collins is probably my favourite. Famous for ‘sensation novels’ such as The Woman in White and The Moonstone, Collins was adept at probing the hypocrisy that underpinned bourgeois family values in Victorian England. Like the main character in The Woman in White, he was fascinated by the ‘idea of something …