J. I. M. Stewart, editor of the Penguin edition of The Moonstone notes that Collins may

have corresponded with a member of the Indian Civil Service who had travelled in the remote district of Kattiawar; the information thus gained helped him with the character of Mr. Murthwaite — who is further said, however, to have been prompted by Sir Austen Layard, the excavator of Nineveh and a famous traveller in Turkey and Persia, whom Collins had met when in Italy with Dickens in 1853" (527).

The Cambridge Biographical Dictionary (ed. Magnus Magnusson; Edinburgh: E. K. Chambers, 1990) notes that Layard (1817-94), some seven years older than Collins, was born in Paris.

In 1845-47 he excavated at Nimrud, near Mosul in Iraq, identifying the remains of four palaces of the 7th-9th centuries BC. He brought several large sculptures to London in 1848, and wrote books on Assyrian civilisation. He became an MP in 1852, under-seretary of foreign affairs (1861-66) . . . . (870)

Last modified 8 June 2007