The Woman in White


By Wilkie Collins

cover image of The Woman in White

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First serialized and then published as a book in 1860, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White represents a seminal classic of English fiction. It is classified by some critics among mystery novels and by some others as a Gothic novel. The narrative's structure is epistolary. It tells the story of a poor young art teacher named Walter Hartright who happens to see a strange apparition one evening as he is strolling through the streets of London. It is the unearthly figure of a woman dressed all in white and who seems to suffer from mental troubles. Later in the novel, while teaching at Limmeridge House, Walter discovers that his most beloved student named Laura has a striking resemblance to the mad woman that he has encountered. Despite the mutual love between the teacher and his student, the latter has to marry a noble man named Sir Percival Glyde to satisfy her father's wishes. The readers then learn that the woman in white is Laura's half sister who was confined to a mental asylum and who eventually dies of a heart condition. Glyde does not really like Laura and wishes to steal her money. He conspires to send her to the mental asylum to replace her identical sister. Helped by her other sister Marian, Laura manages to flee the asylum and finally marry Walter after the accidental death of her wicked husband.

The Woman in White