Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Woman in White” as Want to Read:
The Woman in White
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Woman in White

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  94,848 Ratings  ·  5,199 Reviews
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 inca ...more
Paperback, 696 pages
Published April 20th 2006 by Broadview Press (first published November 26th 1859)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Woman in White, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Gazal It is a hunch since the writer has never portrayed the true relationship between Sir Percival and Laura's father. It can be determined that Sir…moreIt is a hunch since the writer has never portrayed the true relationship between Sir Percival and Laura's father. It can be determined that Sir Percival somehow or the other managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father or he might have blackmailed her father with Anne's secret. The family name and honour was the uppermost in those days hence it might be the latter. (less)
Claire As per the chronology given in the Oxford world classics edition, the story begins in 1849 on into 1852.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Grace Tjan

Beware of spoilers!

What I learned from this book (in no particular order) :

1. Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.

2. Beware of fat, jolly Italian counts with submissive wives and fondness of white mice and canaries.

3. Watch out if your newly wed husband lives in a stately pile with an abandoned wing full of creepy Elizabethan furniture. If the said ancestral house is surrounded by dark ponds and eerie woods, expect the worst.

4. A Ba
Bill  Kerwin

The only real flaw in this densely plotted page-turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promises more than it delivers. It makes the reader fall in love with its plain but resourceful heroine Marian Halcombe, and teases us with the delightful prospect that she will become the principal agent bringing the villains to justice. When, in the middle of the novel, Marian tells her half-sister Laura that "our endurance must end, and our resistance begin," it seems like a
Feb 20, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: 'The Classics' group, Jan 10 book
Shelves: 5-stars
DON'T READ THIS BOOK, unless you've got the patience, stamina, and requisite taste for a quintessential mid-Victorian novel. If you don't, you'll think The Woman in White is terribly overwrought and 500 pages too long. If you like Victorian writing, you'll think this is a well-drawn, balanced novel with characters to root for, characters to despise, a twisting plot that rolls up seamlessly, and narrated ingeniously from multiple points of view. If you're unsure whether you like or dislike Victor ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
“This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.”

 photo 980f83c6-7626-434b-b26f-ab174ef50668_zpssaxvxvoa.png

Walter Hartright, his name is a tip off regarding his character, is walking down the street, his mind absorbed with his own problems, when suddenly:

”In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop by the touch of a hand laid lightly and suddenly on my shoulder from behind me. I turned on the instant, with my fingers tightening round the handle of my stick. There, in the middle
this is a weighty relic of a book. it's pretty enjoyable, just don't expect any surprises, unless you have missed the last 20 years of police procedurals on the television set. i'm sure in its day it was chock full of surprises, but i have to shudder at the contrivance of characters talking aloud to themselves while unknown to them, people hide in cupboards or whatnot, overhearing exactly the information they are most desirous of. it does make me yearn for these times when it seems pulling a con ...more
A buddy read on the side with the Non-crunchers – hold the pants.

Hark! This book is over 150 years old, but, still, spoilers be us.

- Selling English by the pound.

This book has a lot going for it – a well-wrought plot, humor, some of literatures more enduring characters (Marian, Fosco, crazy Uncle Frederick), but it could have been cut down by a third and been one fine-tuned literary machine. I understand the book was serialized and that Wilkie Collins was probably being paid a tuppence-per-word
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
"I am thinking," he remarked quietly, "whether I shall add to the disorder in this room by scattering your brains about the fireplace."
Written in 1859-60 by William "Wilkie" Collins and originally published in serial form in Charles Dickens' magazine (Wilkie and Charles were good friends), The Woman in White is considered one of the earliest examples of detective fiction, though it's really just part of the book (the better part of the second half) that has any real detecting going on. Before th
Sep 15, 2016 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, i-said
Originally published in a weekly periodical between late 1859 and 1860 as a serial story, this is believed to be the first English crime detection novel. This is Victorian fiction that combines romance, mystery and Gothic horror with a psychological twist.

The story opens with an eerie encounter, in the dead of night on a moonlit London road.

In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth…stood the figure of a solitary w
Oct 27, 2011 TJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book is an amazing teaching tool. Not because it conveys any great lessons in life or exhibits profound understanding and insight but because it so clearly delineates the beauty and differences in 19th century writing and 21st century writing.

The story is definitely very gothic and one of the best mysteries available. It is in the length of the story - most especially the length of the writing that will probably cause many readers to balk. The descriptions, the conversations, the ideas... v
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Woman in White is a gem of a novel - creepy, dense, menacing, and always intriguing. For a long time, the reader isn't quite sure what is going on, only that it isn't good - and it's to Collins' credit that when the plots are revealed, they are as interesting as anything I was supposing.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at
Apr 01, 2016 Evgeny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
A group read with a bunch of Pantaloonless Buddies.

A young painter Walter Hartright unexpectedly received a good job offer. On his way home from his mother place he encountered a mysterious woman dressed in white walking alone who asked him for directions - in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere, mind you. The guy though that he would never see her again especially in his new place of employment where he taught a young woman painting. He fell in love with her - way beyond his so
Henry Avila
Jul 18, 2015 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walter Hartright, a struggling drawing teacher, is walking at midnight back to Victorian London, after visiting his widowed mother and sister, at their cottage, in the suburbs, to say goodbye, a quiet trip, nobody around, the road empty, everything's still, not even the leaves on the trees flicker, in the blackness, nothing, only his moving steps are heard, thinking about a lucrative job, in a faraway county of England, that he reluctantly took ( he has a bad feeling about), because his friend P ...more
I've never liked the term "butterface." I don't object to the objectification; I just don't like the sound of it. Nonetheless, it unavoidably popped into my head at my introduction from behind to Miss Halcombe, as Collins allows Hartright to ogle "the rare beauty of her form...[and] her waist, perfection to the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place...visibly and delightfully undeformed by stays*," before she turns and he's horrified by the revelation that "The lady is ugly!" (I.6)

My friend Nora Ephron suggested i read this. Okay, I don't know her, but I feel like she'd be a friend. Therefore I honored her recommendations.

In her collection of essays "I Feel Bad about my Neck," she includes a bit about books that have completely transported her. She says it better than I do about this wonderful mystery:

"I open Wilkie Collins's masterpiece, The Woman in White, probably the first great work of mystery fiction ever written (although that description hardly does it justice),
Cindy Newton
I want to say upfront that I am a fan of Victorian writing. Wordy, in the right hands, works for me. And Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens have the right hands! Their words unfurl like the petals of a flower, and at the heart you are presented with a gem: an exquisite observation about humanity, or a marvelous witticism. They were true wordsmiths, and I would hotly contest any need to "edit" their works.

Once we passed the exposition and started climbing plot graph mountain toward the climax, I
Oct 17, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an obvious precursor to myriad crime dramas & the "sensationalist novel."

I found it long but very rewarding. 600+ pages of different POV's (a novel concept then, but now widely utilized); two concrete settings; only five main characters (perhaps not more than 15 in all)... and it is all choreographed so beautifully. The settings are spooky; the motives of characters, although well known from the very start and from the intense descriptions throughout, still manage to surprise. No ma
Sometimes it is so damn hard to put your mindspace in the right place to enjoy a piece so far out of your frame, and this is definitely one of those books.

I knew a bit of what I might expect, after all, I did enjoy reading Drood and so I got a real hankering to read an actual extremely popular novel by such a wild character in a modern book about Wilkie and Charles. But that's neither here nor there. I probably wouldn't have ever picked this one up without it, though.

On to the novel at hand. It'
Nov 20, 2008 Rachelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved, loved, LOVED this book. It's definitely in my top 5 for all time! I would love to hear from anyone else who has also read this. Not sure how I've missed knowing about it for so long - and I'm really gonna miss it!

Soooo, it's a 'classic' - written in the greatest time period ever (1850) and comparable to reading a really long Austen novel with a dark, suspenseful twist. Can you beat that?

I would recommend this to anyone who loves to read - savor and enjoy it!

Nandakishore Varma
Mar 19, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is not a whodunit in the true sense - there is no nail-biting suspense and the big reveal at the end. But it is a very atmospheric mystery, eerie and engrossing. To be savoured slowly, like vintage single-malt.
Mar 20, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, on-kindle
Where I got the book: public domain freebie on Kindle.

This is one of those novels I've been promising myself I'd read for years. I was expecting a really creepy ghost story, but what I got surprised me.

The plot: this is one of those Victorian novels told through a series of documents, with several narrators giving their accounts of the tale. Drawing teacher Walter Hartright has a nighttime encounter with a woman in white, and later learns that she has escaped from an asylum. By an amazing coinc
Aug 29, 2016 Stepheny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Initial review:

“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Good god. I am finally done.

2 stars- one for each of the two characters I liked in the whole book. Review when I am feeling good and ranty.

Jeff- prepare for extra voltage on those nipple clamps later.

Revised review:

So, the crazy band of misfits that opt out of wearing pants suggested we read the Woman in White. Having read Woman in Black (thank you, Dan Radcliffe) I thought to myself- gee whiz! This sure ought
helen the bookowl
3.5/5 stars.
This was a really amazing book that takes you on such a journey! I started it four days ago, and now - after having finished it - I feel like I've returned back home safely after having been gone for a long time. I don't know if that makes much sense, but that's how I feel :)
Now, this was my first book by Wilkie Collins and all I knew was that it was supposed to be a Victorian, scary read. It was in the beginning, and also slightly in the middle, but I was sad to realize towards th
Shan O
Jul 07, 2008 Shan O rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't quite finished Wilkie Collins' brilliant 19th century novel, "The Woman In White," but I had to go ahead and start my review to say that I am thrilled with it. I picked it up from the shelf because it was in the mystery section of my local bookstore, and I took it home because Collins had me on the first page.

Having its origination as a 19th century serial novel, "The Woman In White" is written in first person; in fact, it is actually a modified epistolary form from the perspective of
Amy (shoutame)
Feb 19, 2016 Amy (shoutame) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I bought The Woman in White on the recommendation of my YouTube viewers, I had read The Moonstone by Collins last year and everyone suggested I pick this one up as it is his most known and praised book. I was not disappointed! The book is told through many different perspectives – we start with Walter Hartwright who at the beginning of the book comes across a woman completely dressed in white, she appears to be lost and a little distressed so Walter helps her on her way. Walter then overhears tw ...more
This Wilkie Collins classic, written in 1860, is a multi-layered mystery written with elaborately defined detail resulting in some pretty amazing and memorable characters. The beginning of the story really grabs your attention with the suspicious appearance, in the dead of night, of the mysterious Woman in White and keeps you anxious to find out the reason for her distress throughout the book.

This novel was not quite what I expected (view spoiler) and required dedicat

May 29, 2015 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Five of us get together every year around Christmas. In a tavern. We exchange pleasantries, and then, we take turns announcing our Top Ten Books of the year. Some explanation for each selection is expected. As here, why the book was special is better received (by me) than: What was the plot/Who were the characters/yagabbadagabbadagabbada....

About five years ago, Jim was half-way through his list when he announced, "My next book is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins." There were nods of the ap
Jul 15, 2013 Lynette rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
SPOILER ALERT because I'm sick of whiners leaving me comments.

Wow. This is supposed to be a classic mystery? The Woman in White was one of the most boring books I've ever read, and I've read a LOT of Victorian books. The plot is seriously that a woman marries a man she doesn't want to marry, and he stages her death to collect her fortune. YAWN. Am I supposed to be impressed that she followed through with her word to her father and married Sir Percival, even though she loved Walter? Nothing inter
There was much to like about this novel. It's a wonderful 19th century English classic, it's a top-notch mystery, the writing is very good, and the characters were well developed and memorable. A small fault for me was the length. This story was told from the pov of several individuals, and I think a few of those were superfluous and redundant. Nevertheless, the flow was good enough to keep my interest and the pages turning. This is my first Wilkie Collins book and by most accounts his best. Whi ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Victorian mystery/thriller; a thickish volume, but an easy read. Different sections narrated by different protagonists - innovative in its day. A rather big coincidence is crucial to the plot (and some lesser ones), but such contrivance is not unusual in the genre. Double doses: 2 heroes, 2 villains, 2 victims, 2 country houses etc and enough twists etc to keep it interesting.
Shobhit Sharad
The first sentence of the book says it all.

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve."

This story is written in the sequence of witnesses stating their pieces of evidence to a judge or jury. The first POV is of an art teacher. It's written in a beautiful Victorian English, with dark elements as they were in the 19th century. The teacher, Mr. Walter Hartright, is a kind and loving gentleman, who wins over the heart of anyone he meets. The poo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset (Chronicles of Barsetshire #6)
  • Lady Audley's Secret
  • In a Glass Darkly
  • Bleak House
  • Mary Barton
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Adam Bede
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • The Diary of a Nobody
  • The Bride of Lammermoor
A close friend of Charles Dickens' from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William "Wilkie" Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years. Most of ...more
More about Wilkie Collins...

Share This Book

“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” 736 likes
“Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper.” 555 likes
More quotes…