Category: Foreign Study
1st edition by Sampson Low in three volumes. August 1860
1st US edition by Harpers in paper wrappers, August 1860
Published in 1860, one of the two novels (with The Moonstone ) for which Collins is most famous. It firmly established his reputation with the reading public and helped raise the circulation of All the Year Round. As Smith, Elder found to their cost, 'everyone was raving about it.' S. M. Ellis described how The Woman in White was so popular that 'every possible commodity was labelled "Woman in White". There were "Woman in White" cloaks and bonnets, "Woman in White" perfumes and all manner of toilet requisites, "Woman in White" Waltzes and Quadrilles.' It was parodied in Punch and even such a critical reviewer as Mrs Oliphant, was unusually favourable. Edward Fitzgerald read it several times and considered naming a sailing boat after the determined Marian Halcombe. Prince Albert read the book and approved. Thackeray was engrossed from morning to sunset, and Gladstone found the story so absorbing that he missed a visit to the theatre. The Woman in White has never been out of print since its first publication. In the twentieth century there have been theatre, film, television and musical adaptations and even a comic-strip version.
The Woman in White is generally regarded as the first Sensation Novel and inspired numerous imitations, most notably from Mary Braddon. The story is in part based on an eighteenth century case of abduction and wrongful imprisonment, taken from Mejan's Recueil des Causes Celebres. It uses the theme of substituted identity, a favourite with Collins, and also attacks the misuse of lunatic asylums.
The story can be considered an early example of detective fiction with the hero, Walter Hartright, employing many of the sleuthing techniques of later private detectives. The use of multiple narratives draws on Collins's legal training and as he points out in his Preamble: 'the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness'. Collins described his method of the writing The Woman in White in 'Mr Wilkie Collins in Gloucester Place', Number 81 in 'Celebrities at Home', The World. 26 December 1877; and in 'How I Write my Books', The Globe. 26 November 1887.
1872 Smith, Elder yellowback
1889 Chatto & Windus yellowback
John Gilbert frontispiece to the 1861 one volume Sampson Low edition
Walter Hartright, a young drawing master, has secured a position in Cumberland on the recommendation of his old friend Professor Pesca, a political refugee from Italy. While walking home from Hampstead on his last evening in London, Hartright meets a mysterious woman dressed in white, apparently in deep distress. He helps her on her way but later learns that she has escaped from an asylum. The next day he travels north to Limmeridge House. The household comprises Mr Frederick Fairlie, a reclusive valetudinarian; Laura Fairlie, his niece; and Marian Halcombe, her devoted half-sister. Hartright finds that Laura bears an astonishing resemblance to the woman in white, called Anne Catherick. The simple-minded Anne had lived for a time in Cumberland as a child and was devoted to Laura's mother, who first dressed her in white.
Hartright and Laura fall in love. Laura, however, has promised her late father that she will marry Sir Percival Glyde, and Marian advises Walter to leave Limmeridge. Anne Catherick, after sending a letter to Laura warning her against Glyde, meets Hartright who is convinced that Glyde was responsible for shutting her in the asylum. Laura and Glyde marry in December 1849 and travel to Italy. Hartright also leaves England, joining an expedition to Honduras.
After their honeymoon, Sir Percival and Lady Glyde return the following June to his family estate in Hampshire, Blackwater Park. They are accompanied by Glyde's friend, Count Fosco, who married Laura's aunt, Eleanor Fairlie. Marian Halcombe is also living at Blackwater and learns that Glyde is in financial difficulties. Sir Percival unsuccessfully attempts to bully Laura into signing a document which would allow him to use her marriage settlement of £20,000. Marian now realises that Fosco is the true villain and is plotting something more sinister, especially as Anne has reappeared, promising to reveal to Laura a secret which will ruin Glyde. Marian eavesdrops on Fosco and Glyde but is caught in the rain. She collapses with a fever which turns to typhus. While she is ill Laura is tricked into travelling to London. Her identity and that of Anne Catherick are then switched. Anne Catherick dies of a heart condition and is buried in Cumberland as Laura, while Laura is drugged and placed in the asylum as Anne Catherick. When Marian recovers and visits the asylum hoping to learn something from Anne Catherick, she finds Laura, supposedly suffering from the delusion that she is Lady Glyde.
Marian bribes the attendant and Laura escapes. Hartright has safely returned and the three live together in obscure poverty, determined to restore Laura's identity. Exposing the conspiracy depends on proving that Laura's journey to London took place after the date on the death certificate. While looking for evidence, Hartright discovers Glyde's secret. Several years earlier, Glyde had forged the marriage register at Old Welmingham Church to conceal his illegitimacy. Glyde attempts to destroy the register entry, but the church vestry catches fire and he perishes in the flames. Hartright then discovers that Anne was the illegitimate child of Laura's father, which accounts for their resemblance.
Hartright hopes that Pesca can identify Fosco but to his surprise finds that the Count is terrified when he recognises Pesca as a fellow member of a secret society. Hartright now has the power to force a written confession from Fosco and Laura's identity is restored. Hartright and Laura have married and, on the death of Frederick Fairlie, their son becomes the Heir of Limmeridge.
A family tree for the main characters in The Woman in White can be found at the University of Iowa here.
All the Year Round. 26 November 1859--25 August 1860; and Harper's Weekly. 26 November 1859--4 August 1860.
Book Publication [ Full chronology for The Woman in White ]
First English edition
3 volumes, Sampson Low, London 1860. Purple embossed cloth, covers blocked in blind, spines lettered in purple on gilt, pale yellow end-papers. No half-titles. Published 15-16 August 1860.
Vol I viii + 316 pp
Vol II (ii) + 360 pp
Vol III (ii) + 368 pp. 16pp publishers' catalogue dated1 August 1860 bound in at end.
NB Copies exist with advertisements dated November 1860 and the 3 volume Second Edition has been seen with the date as May 1860.
7th English edition in 3 volumes
Other 3 volume editions
Between August and November 1860 there were altogether eight three volume editions. The 'second' to 'seventh' were designated as such on the title-page, followed by a 'new edition' on 1 November. These editions might more correctly be referred to as impressions but analysis of the text and errata shows that small differences exist between the various issues.
The complex story revolves around certain key dates and in the interests of accuracy Collins was obliged to make progressive alterations to the chronology of the plot. A review in The Times of 30 October 1860 by E. S. Dallas proved that the date of Laura's journey to London was impossible. Collins wrote to Edward Marston of Sampson Low on 31 October '. If any fresh impression of 'The Woman in White' is likely to be wanted, stop the press till I come back. The critic in The 'Times' is (between ourselves) right about the mistake in time. Shakespeare has made worse mistakes - that is one comfort, and readers are not critics who test an emotional book by the base rules of arithmetic, which is a second consolation. Nevertheless we will set it right the first opportunity. ' The mistake, however, was not rectified until the first one volume edition in 1861.
1 volume editions
Sampson Low 1861-1863, with a new preface and illustrated title by J. Gilbert; Smith, Elder 1865-1872; Chatto & Windus 1875-1932 (with 8 illustrations by F. A. Fraser); Routledge 1904.
First US edition
1 volume, Harpers, New York, 30 August 1860.
Issued in paper wrappers and various coloured cloths (commonly black or brown), covers blocked in blind, spine lettered in gilt and illustrated with the silver figure of a woman. The advertisements form part of the collation and there are three states:
1. p (261) has 'Muloch' for 'Mulock' and lists nine titles; p (262) advertises The Mill on the Floss.
2. 'Mulock' is correctly spelled on p (261), eleven titles are listed and p (262) advertises The Mill on the Floss.
3. 'Mulock' is correctly spelled with eleven titles listed, but p (262) advertises nine titles by Thackeray.
Further Harper's editions 1861-1902.
Russian, St Petersburg 1860; French, (in Le Temps ) Paris 1861, 2 vols, Paris 1862; Dutch, Amsterdam 1861, 1866; German, Stuttgart 1862, Vienna 1902.
Riverside, Boston 1969 (edited by A. Trodd and introduced by K. Tillotson); World's Classics 1980 (edited by H. P. Sucksmith); 1996 (edited by J. Sutherland); Penguin 1974 (edited by J. Symons); Everyman Library 1991 (introduced by N. Rance); Broadview Press 2006 (edited by Maria K. Bachman and Don Richard Cox).
The Woman in White was published in England in mid August 1860. The exact date, however, remains uncertain. Sampson Low consistently advertised publication on 15 August although Collins noted it as 16 August. The title page of the manuscript contains a note in Collins's hand, signed and dated October 4th 1860:
The original Mss of
'I began this story on 15 August 1859, at Broadstairs, and finished it on the 26th July 1860 at 12 Harley Street, London. It was first published, in weekly parts, in "All the Year Round", beginning in the number for November 23rd 1859, and ending with the number for August 22nd 1860. During the same period, it was periodically published at New York, US (by special arrangement with me) in "Harper's Weekly." The story was reprinted for the first time, by Mess Sampson Low, Son, & Co. It was published in three volumes post 8vo, on the 16th of August 1860. In the United States, in Canada, and in Germany it was also reprinted, about the same time; and, shortly afterwards, a translation of it into German appeared at Leipzig. A French translation followed, published at Brussells (sic) and Paris. The first chapters (forming the first weekly part, and the opening of the second) were rewritten, after they had been set up in type. The printed fragments inserted, here and there, at the beginning of the Mss comprise those portions of the first proofs which it was not found necessary to alter, and which were attached to the written text to save the trouble of transcription. The whole of the rest of the Mss was written for the press, once, and once only - exactly as it is here preserved. In all cases, where there is any important difference between the printed copy and the original manuscript, the additions and alterations (Miss Halcombe's Dream. for example, among the number) were made, on the spur of the moment, upon the proofs - which I have not preserved.Wilkie Collins, October 4th, 1860.]
After the sale in three volumes had come to an end (in February 1861) an edition in one volume, with a photographic portrait of the author, was published in April 1861.
From Catalogue of Original Manuscripts by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 18 June 1890
Collins's own dates for All the Year Round are incorrect, so there may be some doubt about 16 August. It is generally accepted that in the US The Woman in White was also published during August and the date is often given as the 15th (Parrish does not suggest a date for the US edition and Brussel merely states 'during August 1860'). Collins was punctilious in his dealings with publishers. The likeliest conclusion is that he intended simultaneous English and US publication and the true dates probably do not differ by more than a day or so.
Gasson, A. 'The Woman in White. A Chronological Study', WCSJ, 2, (1982), pp 5-14
Marston, E. After Work. London 1904
Mott, H. 'Wilkie Collins (1824-1889). The Woman in White. New York, 1860.' in Bibliographical Society of America. 26 (3rd quarter 1942) p 232
Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, Catalogue of the Original Manuscripts, by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. 18 June 1890
The Woman in White audiobook
by Wilkie Collins (1824 — 1889)
The Woman in White is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859, serialized in 1859-1860, and first published in book form in 1860. It is considered to be to the first mystery novel, and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of ‘sensation novels’….
The Woman in White is also an early example of a particular type of Collins narrative in which several characters in turn take up the telling of the story. This creates a complex web in which readers are unsure which narrator can, and cannot, be trusted. Collins used this technique in his other novels, including The Moonstone. This technique was copied by other novelists, including Bram Stoker, author of Dracula (1897), although by the end of the 19th century the technique was considered “old-fashioned”. (Summary from Wikipedia)
The Woman in White
Epistolary, Mystery Novel,Sensation novel
All the Year Round
26 Nov. 1859 – 25 Aug. 1860
Print (Hardback & Paperback)
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The Woman in White is presented as a series of documents, including testimony, letters and diary entries. The primary narrator is 28-year-old drawing tutor Walter Hartright, who is commissioned to tutor two young ladies at Limmeridge House in Cumberland. The night before embarking on his journey, he encounters a stranger on a lonely road. The woman, dressed all in white, alludes to her links with Limmeridge House and the Fairlie family. She conceals her identity, but mentions an intense hatred of a certain baronet. Minutes after she slips away, Walter discovers that she has escaped from an asylum for the insane. He has a foreboding that this won’t be the last he hears of the woman in white.
Walter arrives in Cumberland, and is charmed by his students: wise and kind Marian Halcombe, and her half-sister, dreamy, beautiful Laura Fairlie. As the months pass, he realises to his dismay that he is in love with Laura, and that she returns his feelings. Laura is however engaged to a baronet, an arrangement made by her father prior to his death. To avert social disaster, Walter must leave Cumberland.
Before he can do so, the mysterious woman in white reappears. Walter and Marian undertake some detective work, and find out that she is Anne Catherick. Walter realises that she is the author of an ominous letter to Laura warning of the evil that will befall her if she marries Sir Percival Glyde. But before Walter and Marian can work out why Anne penned the letter, or investigate her uncanny resemblance to Laura, Anne disappears.
Walter returns to London. Laura and Sir Percival are married, despite the bride’s reluctance. Walter finds himself relentlessly followed and spied upon. With Marian’s help, he secures a commission to travel to South America, where he hopes to escape his heartbreak and his stalkers.
Laura, Sir Percival and Marian settle in Hampshire, at Percival’s dilapidated estate. They are joined by an Italian Count, Fosco, and his wife. The Count is a somewhat sinister presence, and he has Percival firmly in his power. Percival makes it clear that he married Laura for her money, and that he intends to get it all, without delay. With the sisters’ situation looking increasingly desperate, Anne Catherick reappears and promises to reveal a dreadful secret about Sir Percival. Marian, however, falls gravely ill and Anne disappears again. When Marian recovers, she is told that Laura has died.
As events unfold, however, it emerges that Percival and Fosco have contrived to switch the identities of Laura and Anne: Anne has died, allowing Percival to inherit Laura’s money, while Laura has been incarcerated in the asylum. Marian stumbles across the truth, and she helps Laura escape from the asylum. This daring rescue coincides with Walter’s return to England. By chance, the three are reunited.
Walter resolves to make Percival and Fosco pay for their crimes, and to restore Laura’s identity under law. He and Marian set out to uncover Percival’s dreadful secret. Walter eventually discovers that Percival is illegitimate – he has falsely claimed his title and inheritance. Percival, trying to destroy the evidence of his crime, dies in a fire. Walter and Laura are able to marry.
Fosco is now the only person who can officially verify Laura’s identity. Walter discovers that he, too, has a deadly secret, and he forces him to provide the proof he needs to assist Laura. Fosco flees England and is later murdered. Laura’s true identity is officially recognised, and eventually she, Walter and Marian return to Limmeridge house.
The young painter Walter Hartright has gotten a job as a drawing teacher in the city of Cumberland. He was recommended for this position by his good friend Pesca who was an Italian professor. Walter had been living in London, so he has to leave his town and to go to Cumberland for this new job. He decided to say goodbye to his mother and sister. As he was going out, he met a strange woman. She was dressed in white from head to foot. They continued talking on their way together. The woman in white was excited when he told her about his future work, and about the people who had hired him. She has been talking about these people with a mixture of love, anger and fear. Walter helped her to catch a cab. Then, almost immediately afterwards, he met two men who were searching for a woman in white who had escaped from an asylum.
Total words: 12220
Unique words: 1446
impersonator, opera, member, kill, proof, traitor, heirYou can also read:
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Thirty-nine Steps
A Tale of Two Cities
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Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White tells the story of two half-sisters, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe who were embroiled in the sinister plot of Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco to take over their family’s wealth. It’s considered to be one of the first “sensation novels” to be published. Like most novels that fall into this category, the protagonists here are pushed to their limits by the villains before they finally got the justice they deserved.
The story begins with Walter Hartright helping a woman dressed in white who turned out to have escaped from a mental asylum. A day later, he travelled to Cumberland to be a drawing master to the half-sisters Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe. While he was in their house he discovered that the woman dressed in white whom he helped was also Laura’s sister.
Walter and Laura eventually became very close to each other and had a relationship, but Laura was already set to marry Sir Percival Glyde. Marian advised Walter to forget his love for Laura and live their place, a painful advice which he followed. Laura eventually married Glyde and this is when things started to turn for the worse for the main characters in the novel.
Glyde and his friend Count Fosco were masters of deception and they’d do everything they can to get the things they want. In the story, Glyde was already in financial difficulties when he married Laura who was from a rich family. In order to get her family’s riches he’s willing to resort to desperate means. Glyde is portrayed here as an archetypical villain which every reader of this book will surely hate.
When it was first published in 1859, The Woman in White quickly became a best-seller because of its theme and storyline. More than a hundred years since its first publication, readers can still relate to its characters and empathize with the protagonists in the story.Download & play audiobook
01 – The First Epoch – Walter Hartright: Introduction – IV
02 – The First Epoch – Walter Hartright: V – VII
03 – The First Epoch – Walter Hartright: VIII – IX
04 – The First Epoch – Walter Hartright: X – XII
05 – The First Epoch – Walter Hartright: XIII
The Woman in White is considered to be the first mystery novel written by Wilkie Collins. This novel was a trendsetter in the style of narration as Collins used many characters to narrate the story and this style was followed my many authors like Bram Stoker. Anne, an illegitimate child has been put to asylum by her father’s family members to keep her away from inheriting the properties. Laura, her half-sister who is identical in appearance is in danger by her own lover Glyde. To inherit the properties of Laura, Glyde murders Anne and create alibi that Laura is dead. Laura who is still alive now has been put into asylum as Anne. The mystery is unearthed by Walter who investigate the death of Anne.Streaming Audiobook
Click on the chapters to start listen to The Woman in White streaming audio online chapter-wise and use navigation buttons to change chapters, pause or play.
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. The use of multiple narrators (including nearly all the principal characters) draws on Collins's legal training,   and as he points out in his Preamble: "the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness". In 2003, Robert McCrum writing for The Observer listed The Woman in White number 23 in "the top 100 greatest novels of all time",  and the novel was listed at number 77 on the BBC 's survey The Big Read. Contents Characters [ edit ]
Walter Hartright, a young art teacher, encounters and gives directions to a mysterious and distressed woman dressed entirely in white, lost in London; he is later informed by policemen that she has escaped from an asylum. Soon afterward, he travels to Limmeridge House in Cumberland. having been hired as a drawing master on the recommendation of his friend, Pesca, an Italian language master. The Limmeridge household comprises the invalid Frederick Fairlie, and Walter's students: Laura Fairlie, Mr. Fairlie's niece, and Marian Halcombe, her devoted half-sister. Walter realizes that Laura bears an astonishing resemblance to the woman in white, who is known to the household by the name of Anne Catherick: a mentally disabled child who formerly lived near Limmeridge, and was devoted to Laura's mother, who first dressed her in white.
Over the next few months, Walter and Laura fall in love, despite Laura's betrothal to Sir Percival Glyde, Baronet. Upon realising this, Marian advises Walter to leave Limmeridge. Laura receives an anonymous letter warning her against marrying Glyde. Walter deduces that Anne has sent the letter and encounters her again in Cumberland; he becomes convinced that Glyde originally placed Anne in the asylum. Despite the misgivings of the family lawyer over the financial terms of the marriage settlement, which will give the entirety of Laura's fortune to Glyde if she dies without leaving an heir, and Laura's confession that she loves another man, Laura and Glyde marry in December 1849 and travel to Italy for six months. Concurrently, Walter joins an expedition to Honduras .
After six months, Sir Percival and Lady Glyde return to his house, Blackwater Park in Hampshire ; accompanied by Glyde's friend, Count Fosco (married to Laura's aunt). Marian, at Laura's request, resides at Blackwater, and learns that Glyde is in financial difficulties. Glyde attempts to bully Laura into signing a document which would allow him to use her marriage settlement of £20,000, which Laura refuses. Anne, who is now terminally ill, travels to Blackwater Park and contacts Laura, saying that she holds a secret that will ruin Glyde's life. Before she can disclose the secret, Glyde discovers their communication and becomes extremely paranoid, believing Laura knows his secret and attempts to keep her held at Blackwater. With the problem of Laura's refusal to give away her fortune, and Anne's knowledge of his secret, Fosco devises a plot to use the resemblance between Laura and Anne to exchange their two identities. The two will trick both individuals into travelling with them to London; Laura will be placed in an Aslyum under the identity of Anne, and Anne will be buried under the identity of Laura upon her imminent death. Marian overhears part of this plan; but becomes soaked by rain, and contracts typhus .
While Marian is ill, Laura is tricked into travelling to London, and the plan is accomplished. Anne Catherick succumbs to her illness and is buried as Laura, while Laura is drugged and conveyed to the asylum as Anne. When Marian visits the asylum, hoping to learn something from Anne, she finds Laura, who is dismissed as a deluded Anne when she claims to be Laura. Marian bribes the nurse, and Laura escapes. Walter has meanwhile returned from Honduras, and the three live incognito in London, formulating plans to restore Laura's identity. During his research, Walter discovers Glyde's secret; he was illegitimate, and therefore not entitled to inherit his title or property. In the belief that Walter has discovered or will discover his secret, Glyde attempts to incinerate the incriminating documents; but perishes in the flames. From Anne's mother (Jane Catherick), Walter discovers that Anne never knew what Glyde's secret was. She had only know that there was a secret around Glyde and had repeated words her mother had said in anger to threaten Glyde and then later got the idea into her head that she knew the secret. The reason that Glyde's parents never got married was that his mother was already married to an Irish man, who left her. While he had no problem claiming the estate, he needed a marriage certificate between his parents to borrow money. So he went to a church in a village, where his parents had lived together and where the pastor, that had service there had died a long ago, and added a fake marriage into their church register. Mrs. Catherick had help him getting access to the register and was awarded with a golden watch with chain and an annual payment.
With the death of Glyde, the trio are safe from persecution, but still have no way of proving Laura's true identity. Walter suspects that Anne died before Laura's trip to London, and proof of this would prove their story; but only Fosco holds knowledge of the dates. Walter figures out from a letter he got from Mrs. Catherick's former employer, that Anne was the illegitimate child of Laura's father. On a visit to the Opera with Pesca, he learns that Fosco has betrayed an Italian nationalist society, of which Pesca is a high-ranking member. When Fosco prepares to flee the country, Walter forces a written confession from him, by which Laura's identity is legally restored, in exchange for safe-conduct from England. Laura's identity is restored and the inscription on her gravestone replaced by that of Anne Catherick. Fosco escapes, only to be killed by another agent of the society. To ensure the legitimacy of his efforts on her part, Walter and Laura have married earlier; and on the death of Frederick Fairlie, their son inherits Limmeridge.Themes and influences [ edit ]
The theme of the story is the unequal position of married women in law at the time. Laura Glyde's interests have been neglected by her uncle and her fortune of £20,000 (then an enormous sum of money) by default falls to her husband on her death. This provides the motive for the conspiracy of her unscrupulous husband and his co-conspirator Fosco. In his later Man and Wife . Collins portrays another victim of the law's partiality, who takes a terrible revenge on her husband.Publication [ edit ]
The novel was first published in serial form in 1859–60, appearing in Charles Dickens ' magazine All the Year Round (UK) and Harper's Weekly (USA). It was published in book form in 1860. Critical reception [ edit ]
The novel was extremely successful commercially, but contemporary critics were generally hostile.  Modern critics and readers regard it as Collins' best novel:  a view with which Collins concurred, as it is the only one of his novels named in his chosen epitaph. "Author of The Woman in White and other works of fiction". Adaptations [ edit ] Theatre [ edit ] Film and television [ edit ]
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Our story beings with Walter Hartright helpfully telling us that he's about to tell us a story. (Glad he gave us that head's up.) Walter actually gathered a lot of testimony and letters from people to tell us a dramatic and totally true story. Cue the Law and Order theme song.
So Walter is an art teacher who lands a gig teaching two sisters how to draw. Before heading out to the sisters' house, he meets a mysterious woman dressed entirely in white who has just escaped from a lunatic asylum.
Walter heads to Limmeridge House, where he promptly becomes BFFs with the older sister, Marian, and falls in love with the younger sister, Laura. Marian and Walter investigate the woman in white, who is named Anne Catherick and who bears a weird resemblance to Laura.
But then Walter has to leave because of his love for Laura, who is already engaged to a dude named Sir Percival Glyde. Walter peaces out and Sir Percival arrives on the scene and woos his Laura some more for good measure. But Anne Catherick sends a letter to Laura prior to her fiancé's arrival. The letter tells Laura to stay away from Sir Percival—he's a creep. Sir Percival also makes some shifty legal demands regarding Laura's inheritance, which the family lawyer doesn't like. Laura hems and haws about everything but finally decides to marry Sir Percival anyway, since she promised her dad she would. Marian is less than pleased with the situation.
Flash-forward to after the wedding. Laura and Sir Percival return from their honeymoon, and Marian comes to live with them at Sir Percival's mansion, Blackwater Park (sounds cheery). Count Fosco, Sir Percival's BFF, and Countess Fosco, Laura's aunt Eleanor, come to stay at the house as well. Things go from bad to worse for the sisters as they are forced to square off against the greedy and crafty Fosco and Percival, both of whom are out for Laura's money.
After a tense few weeks, Marian falls dangerously ill after spying on Fosco and Percival in the rain. (Should've brought that umbrella, Marian.) The two men conspire to get Laura out of the house. Laura abruptly dies at Count Fosco's house while Marian is abandoned at Blackwater Park. Yikes.
Except not. See, Fosco swapped Anne and Laura. In reality it was Anne who died, and Laura was shipped off to Anne's former asylum. But Marian figures out what's what and busts her sister out of the loony bin. The two team up with Walter, who is back from a stint in South America, and go on a crusade to get justice for Laura, who is still presumed dead.
After lots of investigating, Walter learns Sir Percival's big secret: he's an illegitimate child and not the rightful heir to his estate or title. Before Walter can let the world know about this, Sir Percival dies in a fire while trying to stop Walter from investigating things further. One villain down, one to go.
Fosco seems indestructible, but then Walter learns some shady things about his past from his Italian buddy, Pesca. Turns out Fosco is on the lam from a political organization that he screwed over once upon a time. Walter confronts Fosco and gets a detailed written confession from him about everything he and his crony Percival did to Laura and Marian. Fosco runs off, but his former political society finally catches up with him and kills him in Paris.
Meanwhile, Walter and Laura have married and eventually they have a son. Laura's identity is restored, but her money is long gone. Anne Catherick gets a proper burial under her own name. Walter, Laura, baby Walter, and Marian move into Limmeridge house after Laura's uncle dies, and they all live happily ever after.
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