Dougray Scott reads Wilkie Collins’ celebrated novel “The Woman In White”, in this abridged eight part version originally broadcast by BBC Radio 2.
The life of art teacher Walter Hartright changes forever following his midnight encounter with the spectral ‘Woman In White’ on a lonely moonlit road. The meeting unleashes a chain of startling events that encompasses espionage, fraud, conflagration, body-swapping, drugs, forgery and murder – quite a heady cocktail of vices for its mid-Victorian audience.
Described as the first detective novel in the English language, the book was a best-seller from the moment of its publication in 1860 – a popularity which continues to the present day in the form of the recent Andrew Lloyd Webber musical adaptation which opened in London with Michael Crawford taking the role of the corpulent villain, Count Fosco.
“The Woman In White” has lost none of its power to shock, startle and entertain after almost 150 years.
Walter Hartright, a drawing instructor, is down on his luck and looking for a change. However, his life is turned completely upside down when he encounters the Woman In White, wandering forlornly on a deserted midnight street…
Walter Hartright has taken up a new job in Cumberland, teaching two well-born young ladies to draw. The elder, Marian is fun but frumpy; while the younger, Laura, bears a startling resemblance to – the Woman In White.
Walter Hartright and Laura Fairlie have fallen in love with one another, but Laura is already engaged to Sir Percival Glyde, a much older aristocrat. Walter abandons England to try and forget her – yet he cannot, and returns to find her dead. Or is she?
Laura Glyde has been freed by her sister Marian from an asylum, into which she was admitted under the name of Anne Catherick, who we now know to be The Woman In White. Now at liberty she helps Walter Hartright in his quest to re-establish her identity, and to retrieve her considerable fortune, which has passed to her husband, Sir Percival Glyde, and his oily accomplice, the corpulent Count Fosco.
Walter Hartright continues to investigate why Lady Laura Glyde was shut up in an asylum, and where Anne Catherick, The Woman In White, has disappeared to. His search takes him to a small village in Hampshire, where there have clearly been some questionable goings-on…
Walter Hartright, hot on the trail of the villainous Count Fosco and his accomplice Sir Percival Glyde, discovers compelling evidence why the latter shut up both Anne Catherick, The Woman In White and his own wife Laura in an asylum. But Sir Percy is onto Hartright, and the race to acquire the necessary proof is joined – with tragic consequences.
Sir Percival Glyde, Laura’s husband, has been burned to death while destroying key evidence that would disinherit him. Now his accomplice, the corpulent Count Fosco comes out of the woodwork, and proves a much more chilling adversary for our Hero, Walter Hartright.
Walter Hartright, now married to Laura Glyde, has discovered that Count Fosco, who has swindled Laura out of her considerable wealth, is marked for death by an Italian secret society of which he has long been a member. Fosco is sure to flee the country, but can Hartright get to him first, extract a confession and re-establish his wife’s true identity. And just what has been the fate of the Woman In White?