'There are inherent emotional forces in humanity to which the inherited
influences must submit'
1889 Chatto & Windus first English edition
Novel dedicated to Mrs Henry Powell Bartley (Carrie Graves) acknowledging
her skill and patience in copying manuscripts for the printer.
Henry Bartley was Collin's solicitor and, ironically, embezzled from
the estate - the fate suffered by Miss Jillgall in the story.
Published in 1888, it was the final novel completed by Collins and the
last to be syndicated by Tillotson. The
Legacy of Cain explores the theme of hereditary evil, and attacks the idea
that 'bad blood' necessarily results in a criminality.
1891 Chatto & Windus yellowback
The main story begins in 1875. Helena
and Eunice are sisters brought up by their father, the Reverend Abel Gracedieu.
He has deliberately kept them in ignorance of their true ages because
the elder daughter was adopted in 1858, after her natural mother was executed
for the brutal murder of her husband. The
story's main narrator is the prison governor who always feared the adoption
would end badly because of the taint of inherited evil.
The household is joined by the minister's impoverished cousin, Selina
Jillgall, to whom Helena takes an immediate dislike.
The good-natured Eunice, however, becomes very friendly with Miss
Jillgall whose only other ally is a Mrs Tegenbruggen.
In 1858 she was Elizabeth Chance, lover of Eunice's murdered father.
Mrs Tegenbruggen is determined to discover which daughter is the elder
and make trouble.
Eunice, visiting friends in
London, meets young Philip Dunboyne. They
fall in love but when Philip later sees Helena she captures his affections.
Eunice finds out and to compose herself takes some of her ailing
father's medicine. Under its
influence she sees a ghostly apparition of her executed mother urging her to
kill Helena in revenge. Helena
incurs the disapproval of both the Reverend Gracedieu and Philip's father,
brother-in-law to the executed woman. The
distressed minister asks the governor for advice.
Helena, to spite them both, provokes her father and, permanently
unhinged, he tries to kill the governor with a razor.
Philip tires of Helena and wishes to marry the now reluctant Eunice.
Helena in revenge obtains digitalis with a forged prescription and
attempts to poison Philip while pretending to nurse him.
She is arrested and sent to prison.
Philip fully recovers and finally persuades Eunice to marry him, but
only after the governor, to thwart the mischievous Mrs Tegenbruggen, has
revealed the truth: it was Eunice who was adopted after her mother's
execution. Helena serves a two
year sentence and emigrates to America where she prospers as the leader of a
women's religious cult.
1890s Universal Publishing Company's New York edition
First published in the Leigh Journal and Times, 17 February--29
June 1888, and several other *Tillotson's syndicated newspapers.
First English edition
3 volumes, Chatto & windus, London 1889.
Dark-blue cloth, front covers blocked in red and black, spines lettered
in gilt, grey and white floral end-papers. Half-title
in each volume. Published in
viii + 290 pp
vi + 264 pp
vi + 282 pp. 32 pp
publishers' catalogue dated October 1888
bound in at end.
1 volume editions
Chatto & Windus 1889-1932. Sutton,
Lovell's Library (no 1176), New York, June or July 1888; Harpers, New
York, 8 July 1888. Both precede
Dutch, 1889; Italian, Milan 1890.
All material in these pages is © copyright Andrew Gasson 1998-2010