The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins

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Places Discussed

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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 of one of the students saying that he has seen, what he calls, the ghost of Anne.

Church and cemetery

Church and cemetery. Well-kept church, grounds, and cemetery in a valley near Limmeridge House is the location in which Anne is sighted at the grave of Mrs. Fairlie. The church is the setting of the marriage of Laura and Baron Percival Glyde; it is also where the fake grave of Laura is located.

Blackwater Park

Blackwater Park. Family estate of Sir Percival Glyde in Hampshire. Amid the rubble and decay of the house, one habitable wing of Glyde’s ancestral home in an isolated area of Hampshire is where, after an extended stay of six months in Europe following Laura’s wedding, Count Fosco and his wife accompany Glyde and Laura. The house and the grounds are where these two men plot murder, kidnapping, poisoning, lies, deceit, and violence against anyone who gets in the way of their obtaining Laura’s money. The boathouse and lakefront are the scenes of several conversations between Laura and Anne. Marian arrives to stay there and finds a small dog nearly dead from a gunshot. She wishes that her first day at Blackwater Park had not been associated with death.

Vestry at Old Wilmington

Vestry at Old Wilmington. Decaying, neglected vestry located in the abandoned old part of the town of Wilmington. The worm-eaten, decaying wooden vaults of the vestry contain marriage records of all who were married in the area. Glyde forges the record of his parents’ marriage; Hartright uncovers this. Glyde breaks into the vestry, accidentally sets it on fire, and burns to death.


Asylum. Private asylum near London is where the wealthy gentry are permitted to incarcerate family members. Both Anne and Laura are committed to this asylum at different times. Glyde is responsible for both because he believes that they know and will tell society and their solicitor his secret.


*Dead-house. Paris morgue in which the unidentified body of international spy Count Fosco is placed for public viewing. His death ends the threats and conspiracy against Laura.


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Caracciolo, Peter. “Wilkie Collins’ Divine Comedy: The Use of Dante in The Woman in White.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 25, no. 4...

(This entire section contains 215 words.)

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(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.


Critical Essays