Wilkie Collins (1824 - 1889) was an English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. He was hugely popular during the Victorian era and wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and over 100 pieces of non-fiction work. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name. His works were classified at the time as 'sensation novels', a genre seen nowadays as the precursor to detective and suspense fiction. He also wrote penetratingly on the plight of women and on the social and domestic issues of his time. For example, his 1854 Hide and Seek contained one of the first portrayals of a deaf character in English literature. Like many writers of his time, he published most of his novels as serials in magazines such as Dickens's All the Year Round and was known as a master of the form, creating just the right degree of suspense to keep his audience reading from week to week. Sales of All The Year Round actually increased when The Woman in White followed A Tale of Two Cities. He enjoyed ten years of great success following publication of The Woman in White in 1859. His next novel, No Name combined social commentary - the absurdity of the law as it applied to children of unmarried parents (see Illegitimacy in fiction) - with a densely-plotted revenge thriller. Armadale, the first and only of Collins' major novels of the 1860s to be serialised in a magazine other than All the Year Round, provoked strong criticism, generally centered upon its transgressive villainess Lydia Gwilt; and provoked in part by Collins's typically confrontational preface. The novel was simultaneously a financial coup for its author and a comparative commercial failure: the sum paid by Cornhill for the serialisation rights was exceptional, eclipsing the prices paid for the vast majority of similar novels by a substantial margin, yet the novel itself failed to recoup its publishers' investment. The Moonstone, published in 1868, and the last novel of what is generally regarded as the most successful decade of its author's career, was, despite a somewhat cool reception from both Dickens and the critics, a significant return to form and reestablished the market value of an author whose success in the competitive Victorian literary marketplace had been gradually waning in the wake of his first "masterpiece."