Wilkie (william) collins can be described as the author of the first full-length detective stories in english. London in 1824, he was the son of a landscape painter. He was educated at private schools, but received his real education on a two-year tour of italy with his family. He trained as a lawyer, but became a full-time writer in his early twenties. During the 1860s, with the publication of novels of mystery, suspense and crime, he became a household name. White (1860) and the moonstone (1868) were the most successful, and are still widely read today. Collins was very highly thought of by contemporary critics and his books were widely read in both america and europe. The famous british author charles dickens was his friend and mentor, and like dickens, collins was a tireless social campaigner. After 1870, collins"s novels concentrated more on social issues such as prostitution and vivisection than on good story-telling.