'There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from heaven, stood the figure of a solitary woman dressed from head to foot in white garments.' Thus begins the action on a lonely moonlit road in north London of what is still the greatest mystery thriller in the English language. A close friend and colleague of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins aspired with him to be a story-teller and social reformer; but it is undoubtedly as a supreme master of melodrama that he achieved his greatest success. When The Woman in White first appeared in 1860 it caused enormous excitement, and it has never lost its power to entertain and enthral. The intricate plot, brilliantly orchestrated, filled with suspense and a cast of carefully located characters - among them Count Fosco, the Napoleonic villain whose corpulent figure and eccentric habits add superb actuality to his role - all combine in a story of confused identities whose surprises and dramatic compulsiveness make it impossible to put down.