The Dead Alive
  • Publication Date: January 30, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814336 / 1554814332
  • 118 pages; 5½" x 8½"
Exam Copy

Availability: Worldwide

The Dead Alive

  • Publication Date: January 30, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814336 / 1554814332
  • 118 pages; 5½" x 8½"

In this 1874 novella, the celebrated British writer of sensation fiction tells the tale of two brothers sentenced to be executed for having committed a murder that never occurred, and of the efforts of the energetic Naomi Colebrook to ferret out the truth and save the two innocents. As editor Anna Clarke observes, Collins’ work is both a compelling legal sensation thriller and an important transatlantic commentary on American life. Along with the text itself and an illuminating introduction, Clarke provides a range of background materials—including documents from the real-life Boorn murder trial that inspired the novella—in order to set the work in its historical context.


  • William Wilkie Collins
  • The Dead Alive in Context
  • A Note on the Text

The Dead Alive

In Context

  • The Boorn Murder Trial
    • from Leonard Sargent, The Trial, Confessions and Conviction of Jesse and Stephen Boorn, for the Murder of Russell Colvin, and the Return of the Man Supposed to Have Been Murdered (1873)
    • from Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Seventieth Session, “Report of the Select Committee on the Abolishment of Capital Punishment” (5 March 1847)
    • from Lemuel Haynes, “The Prisoner Released. A Sermon delivered at Manchester, Vermont, Lord’s Day, Man. 9th, 1820, on the remarkable interpositin of Divine Providence in the deliverance of Stephen and Jesse Boorn, who had been under sentence of death for the supposed murder of Russell Colvin.” In Sketches of the Life and Character of Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A.M., by Timothy Mather Cooley (1837)
  • On the American Character
    • from Alexis de Tocqueville, “Of the Principal Source of Belief Among Democratc Nations,” Democracy in America, vol. 2, trans. Henry Reeve (1841)
    • from Charles Dickens, American Notes (1842)
  • American Reviews
    • from “The Dead Alive” (Review), Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (4 January 1874)
    • from “New Publications” (Review of The Dead Alive), Christian Watchman (5 February 1874)
    • from “Literariana” (Review of The Dead Alive), The Daily Graphic (18 February 1874)
    • from “New Publications” (Review of The Dead Alive), The Christian Register (21 February 1874)
    • from “Novels of the Week” (Review of The Frozen Deep, and Other Stories), The Athenaeum (21 November 1874)
  • Advertising, Illustrations
    • from The Commercial Advertiser (3 January 1874)
    • Illustrations from Shepard and Gill edition of The Dead Alive


Anna Clark, formerly a professor at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, now teaches at The Bishop’s School in San Diego.