BookTalk event, 16th May 2018: Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone

Our next BookTalk event will focus on Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, marking the 150 year anniversary of its first publication in 1868.

The Moonstone is considered by many to be the first novel of detective fiction. T. S. Eliot described it as “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels in a genre invented by Collins and not by [Edgar Allan] Poe.” With The Moonstone, Collins introduced a number of elements which became key features of the detective novel, as well as the figure of the gentleman detective.


The novel is a study in suspense, with a plot that revolves around a stolen Indian diamond and the subsequent efforts to discover the thief and recover the stone. Serialised in Charles Dickens’ magazine All the Year RoundThe Moonstone was an instant success and since its publication in novel form has never been out of print. It has also been regularly adapted for TV and film.

This event will be held on the evening of Wednesday 16 May and it will feature three expert speakers approaching The Moonstone from various perspectives:

  • Katherine Mansfield (PhD candidate in English Literature, Cardiff University) will discuss The Moonstone’s positioning as the first detective novel
  • Professor Keir Waddington (History, Cardiff University) and Professor Martin Willis (English Literature, Cardiff University) will give a joint presentation exploring Collins’ depiction of opium addiction in the context of wider pharmacology in the nineteenth century

The Format

Each of our speakers will present a 10-15 minute talk, explaining how their research intersects with our chosen book, and then there is an opportunity for (always lively!) audience questions and discussion. To make the most of the session, you may like to read or reread The Moonstone.

The main event will be preceded by a reception with tea, coffee, and biscuits at 6.30pm in Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cardiff.

Tickets are free and all are welcome – RSVP via Eventbrite now!

About the Author

Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was an English writer perhaps best known today for his archetypal Sensation novel, The Woman in White (1859). During his lifetime, Collins published over thirty novels, as well as several short stories, plays, and hundreds of articles. A close friend of Charles Dickens, with whom he regularly collaborated, Collins secured his literary reputation during the 1860s with novels including No Name (1862) and The Moonstone. His writing often explored prevailing political and social injustices in relation to women, class, and marriage.

There is currently an adaptation of Collins’ The Woman in White on the BBC.