The Woman in White (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Woman in White (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White was a phenomenal bestseller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Dickens, Collins’s friend and mentor. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall readers today.

The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.

Masterfully constructed, The Woman in White is dominated by two of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction—Marion Halcombe, dark, mannish, yet irresistibly fascinating, and Count Fosco, the sinister and flamboyant “Napoleon of Crime.”

Camille Cauti earned a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. Her dissertation concerns the Catholic conversion trend among the London avant-garde of the 1890s. She has also published articles in Italian-American studies. She works in New York City as an editor and critic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082802
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 05/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 33,557
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.68(d)

About the Author

Date of Birth:

December 8, 1824

Date of Death:

September 23, 1889

Place of Birth:

London, England

Place of Death:

London, England


Studied law at Lincoln¿s Inn, London

Read an Excerpt

From Camille Cauti’s Introduction to Woman in White

The opening line of Wilkie Collins’s enormously popular novel The Woman in White is one of the more confrontational in narrative history: “This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve.” It is a statement of mystery as well as a challenge. Pausing here, a reader is likely to wonder about what trials await this poor woman and to speculate on what constitutes her relationship to this resolute man. Is he the cause of her travails, or is he her rescuer? Why must she be forced to endure what one presumes can be only cruelties? And why must she so patiently withstand them at all, rather than fight back herself? Even beyond these contemplations, what are we to make of an author who begins his tale this way? Does he enjoy seeing women suffer, for example? And more important, to what sadistic ends will our own attention be put?

A more famous set of lines preceded this opener on the same page of its first serial installment, and when one contrasts these sentences, Collins’s abruptness and somewhat harsh tone become even more unsettling. The Woman in White appeared first in serial form in Charles Dickens’s weekly publication All the Year Round, from November 26, 1859, to August 25, 1860 (and simultaneously in the United States in Harper’s Weekly, from November 25, 1859, to August 4, 1860). More interestingly, it commenced one column over from the conclusion of Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, and the juxtaposition of the inspirational final words of Dickens’s text with the chilling first words of Collins’s cannot fail to capture the reader’s attention. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known,” Sydney Carton proclaims in the legendary last line from A Tale of Two Cities, as he goes to the guillotine in place of a better man than he so that this man may return to the woman Carton himself loves. He certainly demonstrates resolution, as well as enacting a personal redemption, in making the ultimate sacrifice, and for the contemporary reader—or today’s reader who wants to perform an interesting comparison—Collins’s hero, no matter who he turns out to be, obviously has a lot to live up to. Sydney Carton is a hard act to follow.

But these brusque new lines of Collins’s signify a larger shift in temperament between the two novels, a move from Dickens’s brilliantly evolved characterizations, vast social sweep and scale, and stateliness of narrative to Collins’s heralding the advent of the pure sensation novel, of which The Woman in White represents an early and prime example. Collins is universally acknowledged as the master of the Victorian sensation novel, a wildly popular genre that managed to transmit the shocks and surprises familiar to readers of hair-raising Gothic novels but that contained no, or generally no, supernatural elements. Yet the usually domestic crimes described in sensation novels—whose authors prided themselves on their realism in opposition to outrageous Gothic conventions—were mainly of a lurid nature and many times were impossible to imagine happening in the real world. As an anonymous critic of the trend argued in the Dublin University Magazine (February 1861), “The spirit of modern realism has woven a tissue of scenes more wildly improbable than the fancy of an average idealist would have ventured to inflict on readers beyond their teens.” Sensation fiction was precursor of the mystery thriller and the detective novel, and it proved extremely attractive to a Victorian audience primed with an appetite for scandal and for shocks that could not be sated by the gruesome accounts of crimes readers devoured in the cheap daily newspapers.

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The Woman in White (Illustrated + link to download FREE audiobook + Active TOC) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 340 reviews.
fearlessgirl More than 1 year ago
A really good book that has interesting characters and strong plot line,it manages to
give you info slowly but surely and then POW! it all makes sense! Amazingly up to date and relevant even in this day and age,it's also great for re-reading.
Julie_Loya More than 1 year ago
At 635 pages, Wilkie Collins' "The Woman in White" is an investment of time. It is, however, an investment worth making. Originally published in book form in 1860, this classic mystery combines intrigue, suspense and just a touch of insanity. Each section is narrated by a different character, so the tone and voice are constantly changing. This is typical in mystery writing today, but it was quite revolutionary in the 19th century. This construction adds an almost trial-like flavor to the mystery as each person's "testimony" adds pieces to the overall puzzle. There are plenty of twists and turns, both in the plot and in the characters. Not everyone is what they seem to be and that makes it all very thrilling. This is not a "sit at the beach" book, but more of a "sit by the fire on a rainy day" book. But, after the first few pages hook you, you'll be wishing for rain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had a great plot and was beautifully written. However, it seems to take a while for the story to pick up and when it does take off you feel as though you are going in circles. The best was the end since you moved quick, got to the point, and it is where all the interesting aspects of the plot come out. I would recommend this if you have time to kill but if not you might want to pick up another book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't be fooled by how boring this book starts out- this is so good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. I love mysteries and Victorian fiction, so this book really kept my interest. Great characters and a truly satisfying ending.
lbaat More than 1 year ago
I was pretty impressed with this book. It is one of the most interesting older books that I have ever read. It kept my attention the whole way through. The characters were very in depth. A few things bothered me about this book, but mostly, it was enjoyable and different!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though this was written in 1859 it almost reads like a contemporary novel. I love the way he changes the character giving the narrative. A very well written suspense mystery novel--I am pleasantly surprised.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding novel with deep plot and character development. It is quite dense with a lot going on and as I read it I felt as though I were there in Victorian England. I finished only to go right back to page 1 to read it all over again.
AutumnHeart More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. It does take a while to get into the story, but I think that is the case with many books. However, sometimes the slowest starters turn out to be the most amazing. It may start slow but all of sudden you find yourself hanging on each word, anticipating the next move of the characters. I loved, unlike more modern mystery/suspense novels, that the actions of these characters is much more subtle due to the time period the story is set. It gives another layer of complexity that really took hold of me while I read it. I gave it four stars, instead of five, because yes it is extremely long. I felt that the ending was dragged on a bit. I found myself just rushing through the pages to have it done, and not because I felt compelled to turn the page in relation to the plot. However, the plot for 98% of the book, did keep my heart pounding, my mind spinning, and my fingers aching to turn the pages. A great read, even with the negative of being increasingly long.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fascinating story. Marian and Count Fosco may be the most brilliant character ever created. A true page turner.....MUST MUST READ. WOW
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing novel - written over 140 years ago, yet as exciting today as any thriller. The characters are well developed and intelligent. Enjoyable from start to finish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As others have stated before me, the opening 100 pages can be seen as quite dull, but once you get past it.....No mystery today can compare with the shocking and yet realistic events in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first thought that this was going to be a dry book, but don't let the first few pages fool you, this book is full of twists and turns making it quite enjoyable. The characters were believable and that is saying something considering that all of them tell a part of the story! Also rich in historical references complete with endnotes in the text. All in all this was a great read and well worth the money, definately not sorry that I picked this one up, that's for sure!
prussblue10 21 days ago
It holds you until the end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MercyWest More than 1 year ago
There is an excellent story here, but unfortunately, it's packaged in a lot of rambling that doesn't do anything to move the story forward. You will definitely need a lot of time on your hands if you want to get through more than a few pages at once.
nm1990 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿This is a story of what a woman¿s patience can endure, and what a man¿s resolution can achieve¿So begins Wilkie Collins¿ The Woman in White, a Victorian piece of classical literature with a Gothic feel.The novel begins with Walter Hartright¿s strange nocturnal encounter with a mysterious woman, dressed head to toe in white. The woman refuses to tell him why she is out at such an hour, and with no one to escort her¿merely asking Hartright to direct her to London, which, as a gentleman, he does gracefully. Hartright fetches her a coach and sees her off, then continues on his way home. A few moments later, he is stopped by a policeman, asking if he had seen a woman dressed completely in white garments. When Hartright inquires as to why, the man responds that the woman had recently escaped from a nearby asylum.This is the first of several events that take Hartright down a long, dangerous road, full of deception and treachery, threatening all that he holds dear. As drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Hartright becomes even more entangled in the plots of her fiancee, Sir Percival Glyde, and his foreign friend, Count Fosco. This novel is a classic case of ¿things aren¿t always what they seem,¿ as it becomes difficult to tell who is friend and who is foe.The novel is told in epistolary form, that is, through the letters and narratives of several characters. This not only provides a change of view, making the book more interesting, but also helps to fill in all the little details that having only one narrator could not achieve.While this book, like many classics, took me longer to finish then many of my other selections (being mainly young adult fiction), it was definitely worth the time. The Woman in White is definitely one of the best classics I¿ve read so far, and I¿ve read quite a few of them. It is full of suspense, plot twists, and excellent characterization. I was also extremely impressed to see such a strong female character such as Marian Halcombe present in a novel that was published in the 1800s.For all of you literary buffs out there, I would definitely recommend that you read this book when you get a chance. It provides a very satisfying read for those of you who are willing to give classical literature a try.
runaway84 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A man is walking home one night. He feels a tap on his shoulder. It's a woman dressed in white. She asks for help in getting far away. Once he has her safely in a carriage and she is off, he finds out this woman has escaped from an Asylum.Got your attention?This book was darn good. The Woman in White set the format of what a great mystery thriller should be and it's no wonder. It was perfect.This lengthy novel was told from the point of view - in the form of written testimonies - from different people who were both knowing and unknowingly involved in the 'secret'. Instead of this hindering the flow of the story, it enhanced it. Each narrative picked up where the last one left off and also filling in the holes the last narrative left.There were a few times in reading where I thought the story was slacking, but what I failed to realize at the time was Collins was masterfully setting up for the next shocking event. When I hit these, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Heck, I felt like I was right there viewing it in person.The Woman in White also showed the limits that women had in the 19th century, especially once they were married. It's almost sickening at some points.Marian Holcombe was a fascinating character, one of the best in literature. One thing I didn't understand is why her narrative was told through journal entries while everyone else's was told through written testimony, even by those who couldn't even write! Marian was probably the most clever person in this cast of characters, so I just don't get it.I was never scared at any point, but I have read that some people have been. The Woman in White I did fine very thrilling. Lots of shady people. Who was a spy? Was someone unknowingly being followed? Secret identities. Cleverly woven secrets. Brilliant!If you love Victorian literature or mystery thrillers and have not read The Woman in White, for shame! I highly recommend it.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book I have been told is the first mystery written. Don't wait another 150 years to get to it. Aside from being quite wordy it is excellent. There are four unique characters. I fell in love with all of them (well - love, hate - it's all the same in literature). Sarah Waters knows where to get her ideas.
JRuel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much too talkative. I may not like Victorian novels after all... Tales of Lost Women and the Evil Men who lose them, oh my!
robertmorrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big mystery fan, but this was a fairly decent book and much more satisfying than The Moonstone.
SandiLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was just alright while I was reading it, but it really stuck with me afterwards, not the mystery so much as the characters. The supporting characters are particularly interesting.
readingthruthenight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Woman in White appears to have it all: mental institutions, ghosts, mistaken identity, romance, mystery, criminal acts. And while reading it, one can almost picture it as a Victorian soap opera. Just when you think ¿ BAM, there¿s yet another twist, another unexpected element thrown at you. And sure, just like a soap opera, some of the turns are more believable than others.Here¿s the thing, I really enjoyed Woman in White, but I did find some parts to be a wee bit tedious. Not in the: ¿It was the best of times. It was the worst of times¿ tedium. But more like, pages of exposition that I had a fit going through. And yes, to be fair, this generally only happened if I set the book aside for any length of time. Actually, that¿s exactly when it would occur. I had a difficult time getting back into the novel if I set it aside. While I was reading it, I could get lost in the plot and characters.Woman in White is an old book, but it¿s an easy book to read (and I mean easy in the ¿not difficult¿ sense and less in the ¿Cat in the Hat¿ way). Like, if someone wanted to go back to the classics, but didn¿t know where to start, I would recommend this book (and perhaps more Wilkie Collins; I¿ll have to see). Some of the characters stood out to me more than others. For instance, I absolutely adored Marion. She was brilliant. I enjoyed her wit and her comments about women in society. Marion is a strong intelligent woman and I immediately connected with her. I admired her devotion to her half sister, Laura, who I found to be a wallflower. Sure, I get that was her role. But I also wonder if part of why I didn¿t leap out of my car and race home to finish the book is because most of the time I could care less what was going on with Laura and her insufferable marriage. I felt her pain and I understood why she made those choices, but dear god, I wasn¿t fretful. Not nearly as much as I should have been. Oh, but you know who was a hoot? Laura and Marion¿s brother, Frederick. He was hy-ster-i-cal! What a hypochondriac. I loved every single narrative he did, and was sad that there weren¿t more. Sure, I wouldn¿t want him as a relative, but could you only imagine if he was around in this day and age? We have medications, symptoms, and diseases thrown at us everywhere ¿ billboards, magazines, even commercials. Dear Mr. Fairlie would be a hot mess.Finally, I found some interesting facts about this book:· In 2004, Andrew Lloyd Webber did a musical based off of Woman in White· Women I White is considered a ¿sensation novel¿. This genre originated in Great Britain in the 1860¿s & 1870¿s, descending on the gothic and romantic genre but focusing itself around criminal biographies. (Great Expectations is also a sensation novel). · It is considered one of the first, if not THE first, detective novel.
thinkpinkDana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Woman in White is the first true classic I have read in quite some time. I admit to feeling a bit daunted by it's size (730 pages) and the mixed reviews which referred to it as confusing and ambiguous. I needn't have worried. I loved it. A nearly perfect archetype of 19th century literature in it's love of lengthy descriptions and using setting to set mood, it is a delightful story of a devious cunning crime, and the even more delicious revenge. I recommend the version in my library which was easy to read as each section/ narrator was readily identified and which also has intersting period, publication and biographical information about the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this