Well done to Frank Wilson at Books, Inq for correctly identifying the author: Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), who wrote The Moonstone and The Woman in White, among others. Frank says the clues were easy, but I will explain them for those who aren't familiar with Collins.
tea: he spent some years in the tea business before going into law and eventually deciding on writing.
koh-i-Noor: he says he was inspired by this giant diamond in his book, The Moonstone. The Koh-i-Noor is a gem that was taken from India and set into a crown for England's Queen Mother. It is considered one of the world's biggest diamonds and is still in the Tower of London, despite numerous campaigns by Indian officials to have it returned.
Rachel: this is one of the main characters in The Moonstone.
rheumatic gout: Collins suffered from this. In the preface to the 1871 edition of The Moonstone, he wrote:
The circumstances under which The Moonstone was originally written, have invested the book - in the author's mind - with an interest peculiarly its own. While this work was still in course of periodical publication in England, and in the US, and when not more than one third of it was completed, the bitterest affliction of my life and the severest illness from which I have ever suffered, fell on me together. At the time when my mother lay dying in her little cottage in the country, I was struck prostrate, in London; crippled in every limb by the torture of rheumatic gout. Under the weight of this double calamity, I had my duty to the public still to bear in mind. My good readers in England and in America, whom I had never yet disappointed, were expecting their regular weekly instalments of the new story. I held to the story - for my own sake, as well as for theirs. In the intervals of grief, in the occasional
remissions of pain, I dictated from my bed ...
(this must be the pain that writers are supposed to suffer if they really want to be worthy of calling themselves writers, according to a certain writer at The Guardian newspaper.)
two mistresses: he wasn't married but lived with one mistress and maintained another in a separate place, which went right against the strict morals of the time.
Watch this space for the next literary challenge, which won't be easy!