17 September 2009

Forgotten Book: THE WOMAN IN WHITE, Wilkie Collins

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books.

THE WOMAN IN WHITE, written in 1859 by Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) has to be on every serious crime fiction reader's syllabus. I read it 30 years ago, and 10 years before that I had read THE MOONSTONE (1868).

According to Fantastic Fiction Wilkie Collins was the author of the first detective novels in English. He wrote his first novel in 1840 (when he was 16) and his last, a joint effort with Charles Dickens was published after his death in 1890. Fantastic Fiction lists 75 novels, 10 short story collections, 2 chapbooks (someone might be able to enlighten me about what those are), and 4 non-fiction books (although Wikipedia credits him with over 100 non-fiction works).

His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name.

THE WOMAN IN WHITE was an epistolary novel, a technique he used again in THE MOONSTONE. It uses a collection of documents to tell the story. The novel was first printed as a seril in 1859-1860, and then in 1860 published as a book.

THE WOMAN IN WHITE is a romantic gothic thriller: A mysterious figure in white appears on Hampstead Heath, before the narration moves to a large North Country house. Sections of the storyline are taken up by a variety of characters, through whose eyes we experience events.

THE WOMAN IN WHITE is available online as a Google book, also at Bibliomania where you can read it as web pages, and at Adelaide University's Creative Commons e-book repository.

5 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks for sharing this one, Kerrie! How creative to tell a story by using a set of documents; I'll have to put this on my TBR list - it sounds intriguing!! I appreciate your calling it to our attention :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I can always count on you to choose on of my favorite books.

Bella said...

I keep reading reviews for this one lately. It looks great - I must give it a go.

Diane said...

it seems everyone is reading this book lately, so i had to order a copy. it does sound pretty great.

E.J. Stevens said...

I agree. This is a fabulous book.

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