Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “No Name” as Want to Read:
No Name
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

No Name

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  8,677 ratings  ·  476 reviews
'Mr Vanstone's daughters are Nobody's Children'.

Magdalen Vanstone and her sister Norah learn the true meaning of social stigma in Victorian England only after the traumatic discovery that their dearly loved parents, whose sudden deaths have left them orphans, were not married at the time of their birth. Disinherited by law and brutally ousted from Combe-Raven, the idyllic
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 748 pages
Published June 25th 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 1862)
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 No Name, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rissi Clean? As in morally upright? As in proper vocabulary? As in, are the pages soiled?
Morally upright, yes. No offensive words, yes. I am reading it on K…more
Clean? As in morally upright? As in proper vocabulary? As in, are the pages soiled?
Morally upright, yes. No offensive words, yes. I am reading it on Kindle. Pages irrelevant.(less)
Joanne He saw her once in passing, but he could not stop thinking about her...and then he saw her again... He was taken with her, but she barely noticed him.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,677 ratings  ·  476 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of No Name
Paul Bryant
Nov 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Everything in the Vanstone household is just tickety boo until a) father dear is killed in a train crash and b) mama dear dies in childbirth so c) their two lovely daughters are orphaned and there are complications whereby the estate is inherited by the estranged older brother who couldn't give a monkey's about the two lovely sisters so what are they to do? Well, actually, Wilkie is only interested in Magdalen, the sexier of the two, so let's rephrase that, what is she to do?

Does she

a) upload th
No Name is Wilkie Collins’ tour de force of a novel about a woman bent on what some might deem vengeance and what others might simply call justice. In case you were wondering, I am in the later group. The law having failed to be just, Magdalene Vanstone and her sister, Norah, find themselves disinherited from their father’s fortune. The circumstances of their loss is heartbreaking and the lack of concern for them shown by the uncle who profits from their misfortune is infuriating. Norah is the p ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Love you Mr Collins! You never cease to amaze me with your writing and uncanny ability to suck me into your books which look to be a million pages, but read as if they are a few hundred. I so enjoy the fact that you have always shown a respect and concern for women and you present them, while often flawed, as people you admire and trust. Oftentimes Victorian authors belittle their female protagonists and have inauspicious fates awaiting those who do not walk the Victorian line. (hear that Mr Dic ...more
No Name is yet another beautiful book by Wilkie Collins. Touching on a different legal concept, the book takes quite a turn from his more famous work - The Woman in White. Merging a legal concept with a heart touching story seems to be Wilkie Collins's style. It is truly appealing, especially when he exposes the gaps in law by which the very persons who need the protection of the law are left unprotected.

No Name is a touching story of a woman's quest to redress an injustice that has cause
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The problem with having so many books of interest is that sometimes it is too long between reads of authors I enjoy. It has been over 3 years (!) since I last picked up a Wilkie Collins, and to be honest, it feels both much longer and much shorter. Where does the time go? I'd like to say it won't be so long before the next one, but I might be lying to myself, if only because he is one of so many I enjoy.

This is definitely not a mystery. Toward the beginning there is some information not immediat
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘No name’ is the plight of Norah (age 26) and Magdalen Vanstone (age 18), two abruptly orphaned young ladies, who lost their rightful claim to their father’s inheritance on a point of legality surrounding their parents’ marriage. The money that was to provide for them went to an estranged uncle (Michael Vanstone) who refused to give them a dime. Set in mid nineteenth century England, No Name is a highly dramatic story of revenge to reclaim lost family fortune. This serialized classic (almost 750 ...more
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wilkie Collins!

I should mention that this guy is one hell of an interesting writer if I can go by anything said by Dan Simmons in Drood, since the author is the main character!

Putting that all aside, which I probably should as it is a really, really bad idea in the first place, I must tamp down my initial presentiments and judge this book by its own merits. Hard. So hard.

What we've got here is a very sensationalist novel decrying all the worst aspects of inheritance law and the stigma surroundin
Basically the plot a devastating legal issue. Norah and Magdalen parents are not legally married. Mr Vanstone was married before abroad and was unable to divorce.
The current Mr and Mrs lived together as husband and wife, finally made legal when the first wife died. Before they could make a plan for the girls, both parents die, Andrew is killed in a local train crash and the mother dies in childbirth.
Andrew's money goes to his older brother, who hated him and refuses to part with any of the money
Before Wilkie Collins became an enormously successful novelist in the mid-nineteenth century, he studied law with the intent of becoming an attorney. Although he completed his studies he never actually practiced. His knowledge and interest in the field is revealed in the plots of many of his novels. No Name is an example of Collins’ training in estate law and the various intricacies of the rules and loopholes during that period in mid 19th century England.


The opening plot of No Name presents an
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I turned the last page of "No Name" my first thought was " Why did I take so long to read this book?, so much time wasted!"
My only Collins experience had been some years ago with "The woman in white" and I wasn't disappointed. But I don't know why I kept postponing starting this novel, which had been in my shelves for quite a long time. Maybe its lenght, maybe (in my humble opinion) the too much simplified summary plot, maybe because I thought I knew what kind of book I was going to read...
Proustitute (somewhat here, somewhat there)
Shall I tell you what a lady is? A lady is a woman who wears a silk gown, and has a sense of her own importance.
While I’ve read Collins’s more famous The Woman in White and The Moonstone, both several times, I hadn’t read the other two of what are considered his four major sensation novels: No Name and Armadale. I’m glad that I’ve begun to correct that oversight with this fun, well-plotted, and highly addictive book.

No Name is filled with deceit, disguises, death, and, of course, laudunum—tr
Katie Lumsden
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed the plot, but sometimes felt Wilkie Collins was writing about the wrong characters - the book focuses on one of two sisters, Magdalene, while I wanted to hear about the other sister, Norah. Nonetheless, the plot is gripping and intriguing, the ending lovely, and the exploration of morality and issues surrounding Victorian perspectives on illegitimacy really interesting.
Natalie Richards
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
My second Wilkie Collins and I enjoyed this as much as The Woman In White; he was quite the story teller!
Gitte - Bookworm's Closet

A thrilling classic with a strong female character, a plot full of twists and turns, but too many details. Recommended for classic-lovers.

Two sisters in Victorian England: the sensible and compliant Norah and the somewhat spoilt Magdalen Vanstone come from a good family. At their parents' sudden death, a family secret is revealed and the sisters are disinherited and become 'Nobody's Children'. Norah makes her way by becoming a governess, while Magdalen sets out on a cruise for justice and re
Laurel Hicks
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I knew Captain Kirke would be beamed to the rescue!
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
After reading this book, I can say one thing - I am so glad to not have lived in this period. the 19th century, which advancing in various things including science and literature, was SO fucking backwards in many other aspects, especially womens' rights! Or the rights of illegitimate children for that matter, so to be a bastard female was a double-whammy, as the story shows.

So much of what Magdalen had done could be avoided if not for the laws back then that nowadays seem so fucking archaic. The
Matthew Gatheringwater
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I liked this novel first as an exploration of what happens to a person who knowingly chooses an action they believe to be immoral. The protagonist of this story has been injured by social mores she considers unjust and therefore she disregards the conventions of the community in which she lives to extract her revenge upon the people she holds responsible for injuring her family. I must admit, however, that 600-odd pages of this moral dilemma would have gotten tiring even for me, an enthusiast fo ...more
Tina Tamman
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
This is a truly remarkable novel. There were moments when I could see quite clearly where we were going, and yet this didn't detract from the pleasure of reading the novel because I wanted to know how the author would achieve this end. And Wilkie Collins didn't disappoint! It is a novel of a complicated structure, with a whole host of characters; well worth reading for the feel of the 19th century alone. The legal angle only adds to the pleasure.
The plot is complex and centres around a series of
Highly enjoyable read, my favourite by Wilkie Collins to date. I absolutely adored the ‘battle’ between Captain Wragge and Mrs Lecomte. While I sympathised with Magdalen’s position, I didn’t much like her as a character. My favourites were Captain Wragge and his wife.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Victorian literature, or fans of Charles Dickens
Maybe I’m a little bit biased and a just a plain old sucker for this type of literature, but I’ve been a fan of Wilkie Collins and his sensationalist style fiction since I read The Moonstone years ago. Since that time I’ve read several of his shorter novels and the other three of his lengthier ones—No Name, Armadale, The Woman in White.

I wanted to get back and re-read No Name and see if it was as good as it was the first time I read it, if it held up after about ten years.

I would say with flyi
No Name is the second of the four novels generally thought to be Collins's best, and I quite agree with general opinion. The plot centers on two sisters, Magdalen and Norah Vanstone, who find out that when their parents die that they weren't married at the times of the sisters' births, making them illegitimate; thus, they are disinherited by law and cast out from their childhood home by their estranged uncle. Norah submits to her fate and finds work as a governess, but Magdalen vows revenge and ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kim, Virginie, Wanda
One of the few novels which treats deeply the stigma of illegitimacy in the Victorian times.

This is the story of the Vanstone family. After their father's death in a local train crash followed by their mother's death in childbirth, the two sisters, Norah and Magdalen, the girls discovered that their parents that their parents have only been married a few months and the wedding invalidated their will.

They are forced then to face life by their own way with the help of their loyal governess Miss Ga
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I stayed up way past midnight last night to finish this one, not because I was so engrossed but because I could not face another night reading it. I have this problem with so many of the 19th century British novels which were serialized at their publication, they drag for me. Had this been a third shorter, I would have given it 4 stars. It had much of what I like in fiction: exploration of an unjust social structure, personally and morally ambivalent characters, two cunning female figures whose ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Late in the first half of the nineteenth century, Magdalen and her sister Norah are raised in comfort. At the threshold of adulthood, they are thrust suddenly into a life far different than they expected. The sisters choose different paths, and as Robert Frost noted, that has made all the difference. The story follows Magdalen on her path. She seeks retribution for the people she holds culpable of forcing the changes. Without revealing a whole lot more, some of the things that stand out for me h ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having just read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Wilkie Collins I decided to jump straight into reading No Name. Wow, its a great book full of Victorian melodrama and intrigue. I know many do compare Collins to Dickens however, I have often found his stories to be more Conan Doyle-like as their mysterious plots often involve legalities and quirks of the law which in turn affect the characters in his novels. Collins studied law prior to finding success as a novelist. Both Collins and Dickens seriali ...more

From wiki: No Name (1862) by Wilkie Collins is a 19th-century novel revolving around the issue of illegitimacy. It was originally serialized in Charles Dickens's magazine All the Year Round before book publication.

All the ingedients of a rollicking good mystery

5* The Woman in White
4* The Moonstone
3* The Haunted Hotel
3* The Law and The Lady
TR Basil
4* No Name
3* The Frozen Deep
4* Who Killed Zebedee
3* The Dead Alive
4* The Terribly Strange Bed
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dead-tree, ebook
Absolutely loved this book. The "heroine" is ruthless and driven to obtain her rightful inheritance at any cost, and my sympathies were with her throughout the entire story. Collins is a master at writing women and their inner turmoil and struggle against society's strictures - being a rather unconventional fellow himself. The prose is intricate and Victorian, but not in the manner of the worst excesses of the time. He's a stellar author at his best and timeless. ...more
Renee M
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! A gem of a novel, hidden behind the more well-known titles of The Woman In White and The Moonstone. Collins has created a modern heroine in Magdalen Vanstone, willing to fight against the confines of the laws which have deprived her of inheritance, name, and standing in society. And, a more conventional Victorian heroine, in her sister, Norah Vanstone. The story of their trials, set adrift by harsh circumstances, makes for a thrilling page-turner!!
Carla Remy
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have enjoyed several Willie Collins books, but it requires patience I don't currently have. I always say about 19th century literature that they wanted a book that would last all winter. I think it was last year, I read some of his The Law and the Lady, and I had the same feeling I have with this: insipid plots appealing to a Victorian. ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
When a friend lent me this book, she did so rather apologetically, saying it was "really a pot-boiler", but that she had really got into it. I was intrigued, because, having read "The Woman in White" years ago, I wouldn’t have associated Wilkie Collins with a ‘pot-boiler’.
I read it in five days, and, although I didn’t let the pot boil over I did actually manage to forget to hang the washing and found it in the machine when I went to bed! I could say that this book kept the pot boiling, in its i
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect page count 3 329 Oct 08, 2020 06:52AM  
Catching up on Cl...: No Name - Buddy read 51 78 Jul 15, 2020 07:03AM  
Top Readers 1 2 Jun 15, 2020 08:39AM  
Ladies & Literature: Official Winter Classics 17/18 Discussion: No Name 25 38 Jun 03, 2018 03:34PM  
Never too Late to...: Buddy Read 'No Name' by Wilkie Collins 61 116 Oct 14, 2017 10:35AM  
Goodreads Librari...: These books should probably be deleted 2 31 Aug 18, 2017 06:36AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • East Lynne
  • Sylvia's Lovers
  • Lady Audley's Secret
  • Under the Greenwood Tree
  • A House to Let
  • Rachel Ray
  • Wives and Daughters
  • Desperate Remedies
  • The Odd Women
  • Mary Barton
  • The Woodlanders
  • Shirley
  • Cranford
  • The Warden (Chronicles of Barsetshire, #1)
  • Little Dorrit
  • Dombey and Son
  • Gothic Tales
  • Aurora Floyd
See similar books…
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 50 years. Most of his bo

Related Articles

If you ask us, it's always the perfect time to lose yourself in a page-turning mystery. To help you sleuth out a new read, we asked the...
165 likes · 100 comments
“Nothing in this world is hidden forever. The gold which has lain for centuries unsuspected in the ground, reveals itself one day on the surface. Sand turns traitor, and betrays the footstep that has passed over it; water gives back to the tell-tale surface the body that has been drowned. Fire itself leaves the confession, in ashes, of the substance consumed in it. Hate breaks its prison-secrecy in the thoughts, through the doorway of the eyes; and Love finds the Judas who betrays it by a kiss. Look where we will, the inevitable law of revelation is one of the laws of nature: the lasting preservation of a secret is a miracle which the world has never yet seen.” 86 likes
“Men, being accustomed to act on reflection themselves, are a great deal too apt to believe that women act on reflection, too. Women do nothing of the sort. They act on impulse; and, in nine cases out of ten, they are heartily sorry for it afterward.” 9 likes
More quotes…