The Woman in White


  • Walter Hartright—A poor young man who earns his living as a humble drawing teacher. When he goes to Limmeridge house to be the drawing master and restore art he falls in love with the beautiful, tempting, and virtuous Laura Fairlie. Laura being already engaged, Marian, her sister, warns Walter to stay away. In the end Walter ends up marrying Laura.
  • Frederick Fairlie—A fanciful, selfish invalid, owner of Limmeridge House in Cumberland; he is also Laura's uncle. His irresponsibility in handling matters concerning Laura's welfare as her guardian is one of the key factors that lead to the success of Count Fosco's plan. He dies in the end.
  • Laura Fairlie—Mr Fairlie's gentle, pretty niece, an heiress and an orphan. She loves Walter but is committed to marrying Sir Percival Glyde.
  • Marian Halcombe—Laura's half-sister and companion, not attractive but intelligent and resourceful. She is described as one "of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction" by John Sutherland.[5]
  • Anne Catherick ("The Woman in White")—A young woman said to be of disordered wits. She's an illegitimate daughter of Laura's father.
  • Mrs Catherick—Anne's unsympathetic mother, who is in league with Sir Percival Glyde in committing her daughter to the asylum. She had a brief affair with the late Mr Fairly (Laura's father) before he got married.
  • Sir Percival Glyde—Laura's fiancé and then husband, he is an unpleasant baronet with a secret. He is able to appear charming and gracious when he wishes, but his true character appears soon after his marriage to Laura. Walter later discovers that his secret is that his inheritance of his title and estate was unlawful because his parents had never married and therefore he was a bastard child, and to obtain it he forged a false marriage register entry.
  • Count Fosco—Sir Percival's closest friend, his full name is revealed to be Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco. A grossly obese Italian with a mysterious past, he is eccentric, bombastic, urbane, but also unfathomably intelligent and menacing. He takes especial interest in little animals, and keeps many birds and mice as pets. The Count greatly admires Marian for her intellect, so much that he is willing to compromise several weak points in his plan (such as allowing Marian to retrieve Laura from the asylum) for her sake.
  • Countess Fosco—Laura's aunt, once a giddy girl but now humourless, cold and in thrall to her husband and his schemes. She caters to the Count's every whim.
  • Professor Pesca—A teacher of Italian, and a good friend of Walter. The professor finds Walter the Limmeridge job, introducing him to Laura and Marian, and proves to be Fosco's unexpected nemesis.

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