“Shall I tell you what a lady is? A lady is a woman who wears a silk gown, and has a sense of her own importance.”
Wilkie Collins’s investigation of illegitimacy and ‘the woman question’ in No Name (1862) compels with a wholly different order of suspense from that of The Woman in White or The Moonstone. For its family secret – the Vanstone daughters’ illegitimacy, their consequent disinheritance and fall from social grace – is revealed early on, and as Magdalen Vanstone struggles to reclaim her identity, the plot uncovers many a moral, social and legal skeleton in the cupboards of Victorian society. Mercurial and unscrupulous, Magdalen is Wilkie Collins’s most exhilarating heroine, one of the rare subversives in Victorian fiction and a woman dazzlingly versatile in her powers of self-transformation. Through her, with great comic vigour, No Name exposes how social identity is constructed, and how it can be dismantled, buried, borrowed or invented.
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William Wilkie Collins was born in London in 1824, the eldest son of a successful painter, William Collins. He studied law and was admitted to the bar but never practiced his nominal profession, devoting his time to writing instead. His… More about Wilkie Collins
Paperback | $17.00
Published by Penguin Classics Jul 01, 1995| 640 Pages| ISBN 9780140433975