From the home of Stylist



Four reasons we love this book from 1859

It’s a right old soap opera. Teacher Walter Hartright is walking to london late one summer’s evening when he has an eerie encounter with a woman dressed in white. Then he goes to limmeridge House to work as a drawing teacher to the beautiful laura fairlie, where he’s drawn into a very sinister world of plots, poison and murder.

It’s the ultimate Victorian ‘sensation’ novel. Before being published as a book, The Woman In White first appeared between 1859-1860, when it was serialised in All the Year Round (a literary magazine run by collins’ friend charles dickens) and Harper’s Weekly. People would sit around the dinner table discussing what would happen next in the same way we do about Homeland today.

Frederick Fairlie. The invalid uncle of laura is hilariously written by collins. He’s always droning on about his nerves and how he can’t possibly have the curtains open as the light will hurt his eyes.

Marian. To be honest, the book’s heroine Laura Fairlie is pretty annoying because she seems incapable of standing up for herself. it’s her sister, Marian, who’s more kick-ass, competent and someone you’d actually like to be.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (Penguin Classics, £7.99)


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