William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was an English novelist and playwright known for The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868). The last has been called the first modern English detective novel. Born to a London painter, William Collins, and his wife, the family moved to Italy when Collins was twelve, living there and in France for two years, so that he learned Italian and French. He worked at first as a tea merchant. On publishing his first novel, Antonina, in 1850, Collins met Charles Dickens, who became a friend and mentor. Some Collins works appeared first in Dickens’s journals Household Words and All the Year Round. The two also collaborated on drama and fiction. Collins reached financial stability and an international following in the 1860s from his best-known works, but began to suffer from gout. He took opium for the pain, but became addicted to it. His health and his writing quality declined in the 1870s and 1880s. Collins was critical of the institution of marriage: he later split his time between widow Caroline Graves, with whom he had lived most of his adult life, treating her daughter as his, and the younger Martha Rudd, by whom he had three children.