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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  517 ratings  ·  30 reviews
In Basil's secret and unconsummated marriage to Margaret Sherwin, the linen-draper's sexually precocious daughter, and through the consequent shocks and horrors of betrayal, insanity, and death, Collins reveals the bustling, commercial London of the first half of the nineteenth century wreaking its vengeance on a still-powerful aristocratic world. But although Basil himsel...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 320 pages
Published July 10th 2008 by Oxford Paperbacks (first published 1852)
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The Woman in White by Wilkie CollinsThe Moonstone by Wilkie CollinsArmadale by Wilkie CollinsThe Frozen Deep by Wilkie CollinsThe Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
Best of Wilkie Collins
6th out of 13 books — 17 voters
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. KonigsburgRosemary's Baby by Ira LevinSalt by Mark KurlanskyHarpy Thyme by Piers AnthonyThyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert
Spices in the Title
14th out of 63 books — 14 voters

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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 with 'bus' here), realizes he must have her, stalks her a bit, and finds out she's the daughter of a linen-draper. That's like the bottom of the barrel according to Basil's father. He would never approv...more
Mar 08, 2013 Pamela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Just about anyone...Anyone who likes a good read!
Hello. My name is Pam and I'm a Collins-holic. Books like this are the reason. Just when you think you've got it sussed and can sit back and relax....BAM! Collins hits you with another twist. And the topics this book deals with are about as non-trivial as you can get: The class system, women's rights (or lack of them), domestic violence/abuse, bribery, blackmail, revenge, and of course, love at first sight (or as we call it today--stalking).
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
I liked this book. It was a little creepy, and I am sure in its time, it was a "thriller" and sort of shocking. The evil character in it drove me nuts-- he has lots of control over everyone....heh heh heh....It is a lesson about jumping into something, like "love" or infatuation, too soon and suffering the consequences...
This is Collins' first published novel, and it shows. The first half was paced too slowly like the average Victorian author, but the unpredictability and suspense of the second half show more of what Collins' later and better written novels are like. Read The Moonstone or The Woman in White before trying this one.
Basil is the younger son of an old, aristocratic English family. His father's family pride is the paramount consideration in his life. Basil falls in love at first sight with the exotic looking daughter of a successful draper and this premise sets the scene for an engaging story.

Unlike Woman in White and The Moonstone, both of which employ different narrators throughout the book, Basil is written from the perspective of one man. The novel also differs from Collin's more famous works in that the...more
D. Eric
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helen Kitson
I'm a big fan of Wilkie Collins. Basil is Collins' second published novel, and might be disappointing if you've only read The Woman in White and/or The Moonstone, although the seeds of the sensation novel are already in place in Basil: what Dorothy Goldman in her introduction calls 'domestic crime', madness, dark secrets and the odd femme fatale.

Basil is the younger son of a father proud of his lineage. When Basil falls in love with Margaret Sherwin, the daughter of a lowly linen draper, he know...more
"I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results . . ."

Opening my fourth year course in ‘Madness and Sexuality in Victorian Literature’, the first book I encountered was Wilkie Collins’ Basil. Though better known for his classic works The Moonstone and The Woman in White, his 1852 novel Basil was in fact the breeding ground for his development of what came to be known as ‘the sensation novel’. Contemporary reviews were appal...more
Our narrator, the Basil of the title, is the son of a rich gentleman who is proud of his family's ancient background and despises anyone of a lower social standing. When Basil meets Margaret Sherwin on a London omnibus he falls in love at first sight and becomes determined to marry her. Unfortunately Margaret is the daughter of a linen-draper, the class of person Basil's father disapproves of most of all, so he decides not to tell his family about her just yet.

Mr Sherwin agrees to Basil marrying...more
This is my least favorite Wilkie Collins book so far. It was slow to get started. In the end, it was confusing but that may have been because I lost the desire for the book. I just trudged through to get to the end. Since I have enjoyed Collins books so much in the past, I had high hopes for this books. The characters were unlikeable and the situations were far-fetched even for a Collins book. Do not let this be your only Wilkie Collins books. "The Woman in White" and "Moonstone" are classics fo...more
Basil is a young man who falls in love with the wrong woman. He comes from a family with a famous pedigree traced back through the centuries. Elizabeth Sherwin is the daughter of a tradesman. Basil makes a strange arrangement with Elizabeth's father in order to marry her. They can be married if Basil will let her leave him at the church and have no marriage relations with her for 1 year. He agrees in the hopes that he can get the nerve to tell his father about the marriage to a woman who is far...more
A fascinating creation with very few characters and, for the major part of the book, only a very small canvas. The narrative is well paced and varied, pulling together memoir, journal and letters. The narrative gains in menace as it progresses, sitting comfortably on the shelf with Frankenstein and other gothic novels - although the reader may not suspect this to be the case for some chapters.
Not bad for an early effort. I was never bored. Decidedly lacks the sophistication of Collins' later work, though, and the convenient disposal of the villain is just silly. Worth reading mainly as perspective for how far the author's literary talent would come.
Richard Ward
Granted, not as good as The Moonstone or The Woman In White, his two defining masterpieces, but still a glorious example of the English Victorian sensational novel. Starts as a love story but morphs into a revenge story, not one that glorifies revenge but instead exposes the purposeless havoc that revenge reeks as it consumes a person's life. Ends beautifully as a story of reconciliation and the healing power of a family's love. Also a novel about classism, snobbery, and materialism, though thes...more
My Inner Shelf
Si l’histoire de Basil est certes moins tarabiscotée que celles des précédents romans de Wilkie Collins déjà traités sur ce blog, l’intérêt n’est pas moindre. Plus court, plus simple dans son intrigue, mais tout aussi délectable. On y retrouve tous les ingrédients nécessaires à une lecture échevelée, passionnée, et haletante ! Personnages toujours très approfondis, description des mœurs d’une époque, des différentes classes sociales, et j’en passe. L’histoire est donc un peu moins tordue, mais c...more
Wilkie Collins is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. I think his works are perfect for people who are interested in reading classical literature, but are afraid to jump right in, as they are very easy to read and follow from the first page. This book was suspenseful, and at times graphically violent. (There's even one scene that is so creepy it made my skin crawl.) Is this Wilkie Collins' best work? No, I don't believe so. But not every book can be an author's best book. It's still ver...more
Mom Wangsgard
I love Wilkie Collins' books and this was a very good one. It is very hard to find. One copy only in the Salt Lake Library system, none in the county system, and Barnes and Noble had no copies. I learned this when a page was not printed in the middle of the book. But I found it online and read the page there then pressed on with the book.

It is a story of a young man who falls in love and is so blinded by love that the reality of the situtation can't be seen, and tragedy follows. It is beautifull...more
Found in laundry-room book exchange, read to contrast with relatively fluffy fantasy series I'm lately prone to reading.

I wish I could call my senior-year English professor to talk about this one, not because I think it was particularly good, but because I think I'm missing the context that would help me appreciate it more. (Also, because I suspect said prof of minor depravities that would help him explain the protagonist, but that's beside the point.)

If you read, do read to the end. All the ex...more
Intriguing story of revenge, duplicity, betrayal, family loyalty, and forgiveness. I listened to this as a free audiobook from
This was one of those books that sent my emotions reeling ~ the kind where I ran my fingers through my hair over and again in frustration, screaming, "NO!!!!" in my mind, pacing with anxiety and watching helplessly as the character is buffeted by winds he cannot control, albeit a result of a few misplaced efforts. Read it to the end~
Very intriguing and moved quick enough but not too much! :)
Poor, dim-witted Basil. This guy is so dumb you wonder how he managed to not drown when it rained. On the other hand, the fate of the villain? Yeah, now that is some graphic violence.
It was another Wilkie page turner. The ending was a bit disappointing - I don't like journal entries and letters to be the last text of a book. With Basil, you get both.
OK for a free read.
Kept me gripped throughout, even though some of the characters' actions and motivations seemed rather unlikely - Mannion's in particular.
Jackie G
I much preferred The Woman in White and The Moonstone, but this was an interesting and entertaining period read.
I´m a fan of Mr. Collins! It´s not his best novel, but Wilkie it´s on it and that´s enough!
I did not find it very memorable. I can’t even remember what happened at the end!
Am reading the ebook on my Touch.

Quite a decent story, all in all.
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A close friend of Charles Dickens' from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William "Wilkie" Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years. Most of...more
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