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Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was an early master of mystery and suspense, writing such classics as The Moonstone, The Woman in White, and Basil. Antonina, or, The Fall of Rome was his first published novel, a colorful tale of ancient Rome. Of this work, Collins wrote: "To the fictitious characters alone is committed the task of representing the spirit of the age. The Roman emperor, Honorius, and the Gothic king, Alaric, mix but little personally in the business of the story-only appearing in such events, and acting under such circumstances, as the records of history strictly authorize-but exact truth in respect to time, place, and circumstance is observed in every historical event introduced in the plot, from the period of the march of the Gothic invaders over the Alps to the close of the first barbarian blockade of Rome."
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