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: Born into the family of painter William Collins in London, he lived with his family in Italy and France as a child and learned French and Italian. He worked as a clerk for a tea merchant. After his first novel Antonina was published in 1850, he met Charles Dickens, who became a close friend, mentor and collaborator. Some of Collins's works were first published in Dickens' journals All the Year Round and Household Words and the two collaborated on dramatic and fictional works. When orphaned Emily Brown runs out of money and has to leave Miss Ladd's school for young ladies, her life becomes a mystery novel. The mystery that reveals itself to her has to do with the murder of her father. . . . A teacher Sarah Jethro, dismissed when her references are discovered to be forged, says her good byes to Emily -- and reveals that she had once known Emily's father but refuses to elaborate. Masterful drawing Teacher Alban Morris is in love with Emily. Emily secures a position in Northumberland as secretary to Sir Jervis Redwood, and when Mrs. Rook of his staff comes to collect Emily, she's astounded to see that Emily wears her father's locket recording his death on 30 September 1877, the same date as the murder at the Hand-in-Hand Inn in Hampshire. Mrs. Rook and her husband owned the inn -- until it was forced to close after the gruesome murder of Emily's father. When Mrs. Rook is hurt in a railway accident, she confesses that she stole the bloodstained pocket-book from Emily's already dead father. The pocket-book still has a note from Miss Jethro containing only the words "I say no." .