The Woman in White | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Woman in White | Characters

Character Description
Walter Hartright A drawing master, Walter falls in love with his student, Laura Fairlie. He becomes an investigator—solving the mystery of the woman in white and righting the wrongs done to Laura. Read More
Marian Halcombe Laura Fairlie's strong-minded half sister, Marian Halcombe is one of the two heroines of the book. Read More
Laura Fairlie A naive young woman forced into marrying the evil Sir Percival Glyde, Laura Fairlie is the victim of a nefarious plot. Read More
Count Fosco Fat, brilliant, cultured, and evil, Fosco is the mastermind behind the plot he and Sir Percival implement to rob Laura Fairlie of her inheritance. Read More
Sir Percival Glyde Sir Percival Glyde is a man with a terrible secret. Glyde marries Laura Fairlie for her money and then plots against her. Read More
Anne Catherick Anne is the "woman in white." Raised and periodically abandoned by a mother who didn't love her, she is shut into and escapes from an insane asylum. Read More
Mrs. Catherick Mrs. Jane Catherick is Anne Catherick's morally bankrupt mother. Formerly married to a church official, Mrs. Catherick had an affair with Philip Fairlie and subsequently gave birth to Anne, whom she mistreated. She knows the secret of Sir Percival's illegitimacy and his forgery of church records. His annual bribes enable her to live comfortably and flaunt her position over those who once scorned her.
Mrs. Clements Anne Catherick's friend and caregiver, Mrs. Clements tries to protect Anne from Sir Percival.
Mr. Dawson A doctor living near Blackwater Park, Mr. Dawson treats Marian during her illness until conflict with Count Fosco leads him to quit.
Mr. Dempster Mr. Dempster is the schoolmaster at the Limmeridge School. Marian Halcombe and Walter Hartright question him when trying to trace the mysterious woman who delivered an anonymous letter to Limmeridge House.
Mr. Fairlie Frederick Fairlie is Laura Fairlie's uncle and guardian. He is a narcissistic hypochondriac, who refuses to raise a finger to help anyone. Despite Marian Halcombe's misgivings, he insists on Laura's marriage to Sir Percival and later refuses to believe that the rescued Laura is his niece.
Mrs. Fairlie Mrs. Fairlie, whose first name is not given, is the wife of Philip Fairlie and mother of Laura Fairlie. Mrs. Fairlie established a school at Limmeridge. Laura attended the school, as did Anne Catherick. Mrs. Fairlie became very fond of Anne, without knowing the child was her husband's illegitimate daughter. Anne, likewise, became attached to Mrs. Fairlie, who influenced the girl by telling her she should always wear white.
Philip Fairlie Philip Fairlie was the handsome, reckless older brother of Frederick Fairlie and the father of Laura Fairlie. Shortly before he married, he had an affair with Jane Catherick, leading to the birth of a daughter—Anne.
Fanny Fanny is Laura Fairlie's maid at Blackwater Park. Sir Percival lets her go when he fears Laura may talk to her about his secret. Marian gives her letters for Mr. Fairlie and Mr. Kyrle.
Countess Fosco Eleanor Fosco is Count Fosco's wife and Laura Fairlie's aunt. Once an independent woman, she is completely under her husband's spell. Her tentative inheritance—which is dependent upon Laura dying without having children—leads her husband to plot against their niece.
Mr. Gilmore Laura Fairlie's lawyer, Vincent Gilmore is alarmed about the mercenary marriage settlement Sir Percival's solicitor demands. He tries to warn Mr. Fairlie of his concerns on Laura's behalf but is ignored.
Mr. Goodricke A London doctor, Alfred Goodricke is called to Count Fosco's London home when Anne Catherick becomes ill. Told that the stricken woman is Sir Percival's wife, Lady Glyde, he tends her through her final hours. When she dies of a heart attack, he registers her death. This official record causes difficulty for Count Fosco and Sir Percival, since the date of death conflicts with Laura's date of departure from Blackwater Park.
Jane Gould When Anne Catherick dies in Count Fosco's London home, Jane Gould is brought in to prepare the body for burial. The dead woman is identified as Sir Percival's wife, and Gould writes a narrative about tending to Lady Glyde.
Mrs. Hartright Walter Hartright's mother, she is overjoyed when Professor Pesca helps her son obtain the position of drawing master with the Fairlie family.
Sarah Hartright Walter's unmarried sister, Sarah lives with their mother in Hampstead.
Mr. Kyrle William Kyrle is a lawyer and Mr. Gilmore's partner. After Mr. Gilmore's stroke, he manages the practice while Gilmore takes time off to recuperate. He looks after Laura Fairlie's legal needs in Gilmore's absence.
Mr. Merriman Mr. Merriman is Sir Percival's solicitor. He negotiates Sir Percival and Laura Fairlie's marriage settlement with Mr. Gilmore.
Mrs. Michelson Sir Percival's housekeeper at Blackwater Park, Eliza Michelson falls under Count Fosco's spell. She initially cannot believe he or Sir Percival mean to harm Marian or Laura, but she later suspects their intentions.
Professor Pesca Professor Pesca is an Italian friend of Walter Hartright. Pesca's actions have a significant impact on the beginning and end of the story.
Hester Pinhorn A servant in Count Fosco's employ, Pinhorn narrates the arrival of Lady Glyde (Anne Catherick) in London.
Margaret Porcher Porcher is an unpleasant, dimwitted maid at Blackwater Park who—on orders from Sir Percival—tries to keep Marian from communicating with Laura. When Sir Percival dismisses the servants, he keeps Porcher on because she can be easily manipulated.
Jacob Postlethwaite Jacob Postlethwaite, a student at the Limmeridge School, claims to have seen a ghost in the cemetery—a woman dressed in white.
Mrs. Rubelle Mrs. Rubelle arrives at Blackwater Park as a nurse, brought in by the Foscos to tend to Marian. It's later revealed that she is a foreign agent under Count Fosco's control.
Monsieur Rubelle One of Count Fosco's foreign agents, Monsieur Rubelle opens his house to Fosco when Fosco arrives in London with Laura Fairlie. During Walter Hartright's negotiations with Count Fosco, Rubelle retrieves Hartright's letter from Professor Pesca.
Mrs. Todd A farmer's wife living near Limmeridge House, Mrs. Todd provides a refuge for Mrs. Clements and Anne Catherick after Catherick escapes from the asylum.
Mrs. Vesey Laura Fairlie's old governess, Mrs. Vesey lives at Limmeridge House. No longer needed as a nanny, she continues to provide companionship to the young woman.
Mr. Wansborough Mr. Wansborough, a lawyer in Knowlesbury, has a copy of the church registry from Old Welmingham. The registry proves Sir Percival forged a record of his parents' marriage.
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