'The blind love that had so cruelly misled her!'
1890 Chatto & Windus first English edition
Wilkie Collins's last novel, finished after his death by Walter Besant.
Collins planned the whole work and was able to complete the first
forty-eight chapters (weekly parts 1-18, to 2 November 1889).
Besant finished the remainder from Collins's comprehensive notes, and
explained the circumstances in his preface.
Blind Love was the third title for the story, originally known
as 'Iris' and as late as May 1889 called 'The Lord Harry'.
Wilkie Collins's last novel, finished after his death by Walter Besant. Collins planned the whole work and was able to complete the first forty-eight chapters (weekly parts 1-18, to 2 November 1889). Besant finished the remainder from Collins's comprehensive notes, and explained the circumstances in his preface. Blind Love was the third title for the story, originally known as 'Iris' and as late as May 1889 called 'The Lord Harry'.
Iris Henley is at odds with her father because she refuses to marry Hugh Mountjoy, nephew of her Irish godfather. She is in love with the wild Lord Harry Norland, a friend of Hugh's brother, Arthur. Harry has joined the Invincibles, an Irish political secret society, which assassinates Arthur despite Harry's attempted warnings. Harry, saved from betrayal by Iris, vows revenge on his friend's murderer. Iris returns to England, breaking her journey to stay with Mrs Vimpany, wife of an unsuccessful, avaricious doctor. Mrs Vimpany has been secretly paid by Harry to keep a watch on Iris.
Iris quarrels once again with her father because she still refuses to
marry Hugh. She engages a new
maid, Fanny Mere, who becomes her friend and ally.
Walking across Hampstead Heath, they find Lord Harry with his throat
cut. He has attempted to commit
suicide, leaving a note for Iris professing his love but owning that he has
gambled away the last of his money. Harry's
life is saved by Dr Vimpany who has separated from his wife and moved to
Hampstead. Harry and Iris marry,
and her father cuts her out of his will.
Harry takes out life insurance for £15,000.
The couple start married life in a cottage near Paris where they are
joined by Dr Vimpany. Both Harry
and the doctor are in serious financial difficulties and in desperation
Harry agrees to an insurance fraud. Vimpany
searches the Paris hospitals for a patient with a strong resemblance to
Harry. He finds the consumptive
Oxbye who accepts the offer of a supposed new treatment in Harry's cottage.
Iris has returned to London; but the resourceful Fanny remains behind
as a nurse, spying on behalf of her mistress.
Contrary to expectations, Oxbye makes a steady recovery and Fanny
realises something is wrong when she is dismissed in favour of a new nurse
who doesn't know the patient. She
hides in the sick room and sees Vimpany poison Oxbye while Harry looks on.
The dead Oxbye is photographed as evidence of Lord Harry's death, and
buried in the local cemetery.
Iris returns to Paris and assumes Oxbye has died of natural causes.
Against her better instincts she is drawn into the conspiracy to claim
the insurance money as Harry's widow. They
travel to Louvain in Belgium under a false name, causing the faithful Fanny to
lose touch with her mistress. However,
after speaking with the new nurse Fanny works out the truth, returns to London
to write down all she knows of the affair and sends her testimony to Iris poste
restante in Brussels.
Iris sees the family lawyer who settles the insurance claim on her
behalf. She takes £5,000 which
Harry had borrowed from her, pays off Vimpany with £2,000 and opens a bank
account with the balance in the name of William Linville.
Iris and Harry live an unhappy, reclusive existence in Louvain and are
about to leave for America when Iris receives Fanny's testimony.
Jolted back to reality, Iris realises that Oxbye was poisoned.
She recovers her moral principles and leaves Harry for ever to make
what redress she can. She repays
the £5,000 to the insurance company which also accept Harry's proposal to
return £8,000 if no proceedings are taken against his wife.
The lawyers pay the remaining £2,000 which is reimbursed by Hugh
Mountjoy. Iris accepts Hugh's
offer of his remote cottage in Scotland.
Harry travels openly to Ireland, knowing that he will be killed by the Invincibles, and is shot by the same man who killed Arthur. Mrs Vimpany, now living with Iris and Fanny, receives a blackmail note from her husband, but he is drowned on the way to their cottage before he can carry out any threats. Iris finally agrees to marry Hugh Mountjoy.
Chatto & Windus 1890 Piccadilly Novels
1889 edition by Ivers of New York
Illustrated London News,
6 July--28 December 1889; the Penny Illustrated Paper, from 12 October
3 volumes, Chatto & Windus, London 1890.
Blue cloth, covers blocked in black, spines lettered in gilt, grey and
white floral end-papers. Half-title
in each volume. Sixteen wood
engravings by A. Forestier (7 in volume 1, 2 in volume 2, 7 in volume 3).
Published in January 1890.
(xii) + 304 pp
(viii) + 304 pp. 32 pp
publishers' catalogue dated October 1889 bound in at end
(viii) + 316
Second edition, 3 volumes, 1890.
1 volume editions
1st US edition
Appleton's Town and Country Library, New York 1890.
German, Stuttgart 1890.
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