The Woman In White

Such was the immediate appeal of Wilkie Collins’s masterpiece ‘The Woman In White’ that, among other notable personages, ‘Thackeray is said to have sat up all night to read the exciting tale…..Gladstone cancelled a theatre engagement rather than interrupt his reading’. ( Vincent Starrett)

Here is the title page and frontispiece of the edition that I finished reading yesterday. Starrett’s introduction is knowledgeable and informative and contains no spoilers. Like him, I will not disclose the story.

It is perhaps fitting that the author of his other famous book, ‘The Moonstone’, accredited with being the first detective novel, has constructed a series of interwoven plots which keep us guessing from start to finish. The tense suspense is maintained throughout.

The sometimes complex characters are well drawn; dialogue is credible and clearly presented. Perhaps the author’s early legal training influenced his choice of narratives given by the different protagonists.

The prose races along without resorting to brief journalistic sentences. Descriptions of place and time are well seen, and Collins uses weather and atmosphere such as a stagnant pool, fog, or precipitations to feature the moods of his characters.

Ends are all ultimately quite naturally tied together. Why, in particular, does one Italian friend disappear from the story to emerge in an important sequence in due course?

The artist’s full page illustrations have been hand coloured after photogravure printing. The black and white drawings occupy half their pages.

Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

48 thoughts on “The Woman In White

  1. Another beautiful edition, Derrick, I’m envious of your marvellous collection. I don’t know why I’ve never got around to Collins. I know I will enjoy his books when I finally pick one up!

  2. A review worth waiting for! I enjoyed “The Moonstone” which I read before “The Lady in White”. Thank you for sharing the beautiful illustrations in your copy of the novel.

  3. YAY!!! Thank you for sharing your review and these illustrations! I was waiting excitedly to read this post! 🙂 Mr. Rosoman’s illustrations are amazing! Both the hand coloured ones AND the B&W ones! The added blues, greens, yellows are lovely!
    A great “duet” by Vincent Starrett and Leonard Rosomon!
    (((HUGS))) 🙂 ❤️

  4. You don’t see drawing like these in modern books.

    I just bought a set of Sherlock Holmes books new. There are a few drawings in them but nothing like the drawings in the very early publications of same. Doctor Watson looks nothing like the original character and the words don’t match his description on the page beside the drawing either. Suddenly, Doctor Watson has grown to be taller and healthier looking than Sherlock Holmes and it’s when they first rented Baker Street together.

    I do love the old books.

    1. Thanks very much, Chrissy. I had an excellent Folio Society set of Sherlock Holmes which I gave to my Australian grandson when the family visited before Covid. Only a short while ago he told me he isn’t interested in illustrations – but he loved the books

  5. Hi Derrick – this is a great review. You have a beautiful edition of The Woman in White. I enjoyed seeing these illustrations, especially the one of Fosco! Thanks for sharing them 🙂

  6. I have been travelling to and fro between two cities causing me to miss out on important posts. I have quietly marked the book as a must-read as soon as I settle down in the new place. The drawings bespeak of brilliance and dedicated hard work.

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