The Woman in White Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Hampstead, on the Finchley-road

Hampstead, on the Finchley-road. This lonely, isolated stretch of woods, near a crossroads leading to London, provides the first sighting of the woman in white by Walter Hartright, on the night before he leaves for Limmeridge House. In his conversation with her, she gives him the clues he needs months later to free Laura from the asylum after her husband has committed her.

Limmeridge House

Limmeridge House. Ancestral home on the Cumberland coast, with a view of Scotland, that belongs to Frederick Fairlie. Limmeridge House represents normalcy, security, and safety for Laura and her half sister Marian until Laura’s marriage to Percival Glyde. Hartright is employed to live here and give art lessons to Laura and Marian Halcombe. Hartright’s art lessons, happy days for the sisters, and an arranged marriage occur here. Limmeridge House is not a safe harbor during Laura’s marriage until the death of Glyde and his accomplice Count Fosco. Then Limmeridge House again becomes Marian and Laura’s home, as well as the home of her husband Walter Glyde and their son, the heir of Limmeridge House. The novel begins and ends at Limmeridge House.

Limmeridge School

Limmeridge School. School at which Laura Fairlie’s mother taught; located near Limmeridge House. Eleven years later, the school that Laura and Anne Catherick attended is still used. This is also the scene...

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The Woman in White Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Caracciolo, Peter. “Wilkie Collins’ Divine Comedy: The Use of Dante in The Woman in White.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 25, no. 4 (March, 1971): 383-404. Detailed and excellent analysis of the use of imagery in the novel, which offers a different view of the novelist.

Collins, Wilkie. The Woman in White. Edited by Harvey Peter Sucksmith. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1980. A most accessible edition with a valuable bibliography and notes explaining vocabulary and the legal statutes of the era. Sucksmith’s introduction contains a good discussion of the Dauhault case that served as the probable source of inspiration for Collins.

Hyder, Clyde K. “Wilkie Collins and The Woman in White.” PMLA 54 (1939): 297-303. Discusses the stories about the real identity of the woman in white and debunks the myth that Wilkie Collins’ mistress served as the prototype.

Peters, Catherine. The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993. Contains an extensive bibliography especially pertaining to the Collins family’s personal documents. Also provides an interesting discussion of the theme of identity in The Woman in White.

Symons, Julian. Mortal Consequences: A History from the Detective Story to the Crime Novel. New York: Harper and Row, 1972. Analyzes The Woman in White and discusses Collins’ role as one of the earliest masters of the suspense novel.