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Walter Hartright -- note the noble name -- is a young art teacher. One night he helps a distressed lady dressed in white, who was wandering down the street, find a cab.
After she's gone, a couple of men chasing her tell Walter that she's escaped from an asylum. But the lady in white will soon affect his life more than he can know...
Walter takes a job for a few months teaching art to a couple of gently bred young ladies, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe. Laura is lovely, quiet and timid (and also, BTW, bears a startling resemblance to the mysterious woman in white); Marian has an unattractive face but a charming, outgoing personality.
Walter falls for Laura. And Laura loves him too, though they never speak of it, except to Marian. But Laura is an heiress, out of Walter's class, and she's also engaged to an older baronet, as arranged by her family, and she and Walter sadly part. He goes on an expedition to South America to let time, distance and adventure heal his wounded heart. She marries her baronet, Sir Percival Glyde, figuring, I guess, that she might as well, and he's always been kind to her.
After the marriage -- which quickly goes south since Glyde only married Laura for her money, and has no interest in acting nice once they're married -- strange things start to happen....
The Woman in White is Wilkie Collins' fifth published novel, written in 1859. It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of "sensation novels".
The story is sometimes considered an early example of detective fiction with protagonist Walter Hartright employing many of the sleuthing techniques of later private detectives.
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"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
"There in the middle of the broad, bright high-road-there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven-stood the figure of a solitary woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments." Thus young Walter Hartright first meets the mysterious woman in white in what soon became one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century. Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall readers ever since. From the hero's foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collin's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing. Collins other great mystery, The Moonstone, has been called the finest detective story ever written, but it was this work that so gripped the imagination of the world that Wilkie Collins had his own tombstone inscribed: "Author of The Woman In White. . . "From the Back Cover:
As the inscription on his tombstone reveals, Wilkie Collins wanted to be remembered as the “author of The Woman in White,” for it was this novel that secured his reputation during his lifetime. The novel begins with a drawing teacher’s eerie late-night encounter with a mysterious woman in white, and then follows his love for Laura Fairlie, a young woman who is falsely incarcerated in an asylum by her husband, Sir Percival Glyde, and his sinister accomplice, Count Fosco.
This edition returns to the original text that galvanized England when it was published in serial form in All the Year Round magazine in 1860. Three different prefaces Collins wrote for the novel, as well as two of his essays on the book’s composition, are reprinted, along with nine illustrations. The appendices include contemporary reviews, along with essays on lunacy, asylums, mesmerism, and the rights of women.
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