The Woman in White
London: Sampson Low Son & Co., 1860. First Edition. Cloth. 3 vols. 1st edition. What a book! The iconic Victorian horror, epistolary in form, gothic in atmosphere, a mystery in plot, and a detection in structure, a fusion of artistry and flair beyond prediction, from the inspired pen of Wilkie Collins. Original cloth, 16 pages of May 1, 1860 ads (Sadleir 605a, with August 1, 1860 ads), spots of wear along joints and to corners, covers faded in places, spines unevenly so, gilt too, rear inner paper hinges of vols. I and II frayed (little shards once tacked down, but the paste now mostly removed), maybe ex–library with no physical scars, else very good, especially clean inside, honest as the opinion of a 4 year old, and The Woman in White is quite a scarce book in publisher’s cloth, and a rare one when it’s not raped and ravaged, by rebacking or restoration. Very good. Item #273
Considered by some to be the first detective novel. It isn’t. The detection is not done by a private eye, the police, or any outsider, but rather by the victim’s half–sister (who is perhaps, half–sister to the woman in white), aided by her drawing master. What can be bestowed upon The Woman in White (without rational argument) is that it’s the first modern mystery novel (all descend from it), preceding (for example) Collins’ own The Moonstone, published 8 years later. The 1st edition was preceded by serializations in All the Year Round, and Harper’s Weekly, and there was a simultaneous 1 volume American edition (tiny type, kind of lame) which was, at one time, thought to precede by a month, based solely on evidence that the New York magazine serial finished 3 weeks before the London serial, but that fantasy’s been dismissed, and anyway, the American edition is a sad substitute for this London edition, as is either edition rebound.