11 worst couples in literature: Laura Fairlie & Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White

List_Tess_womaninwhite_Gyle and laura2

No.3. Laura Fairlie and Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)

* * Spoiler alert – don’t read this if you haven’t yet read the book * *

Oh dear – this marriage was spectacularly doomed from the start. The utterly broke Sir Percival Glyde can appear charming and gracious, but he’s actually a fraudster – in false possession of his title and position.

“… you are so much better off as a single woman – unless – unless you are very fond of your husband …”

He has teamed up with the devilish Count Fosco to marry Laura and extract her fortune. During the brief marriage he makes it clear to the Count that there is no question of Laura having a child. As to what happened to Laura for six months in Italy we can only guess. Finally Laura is drugged, sent to a lunatic asylum, declared dead and her fortune plundered. Meanwhile her doppelgänger half sister (Anne) dies of a heart attack (thus escaping being murdered). Sir Percival then dies horribly, entombed in a blazing building. Even the Marriage Guidance Council could do nothing for Laura and Sir Percival’s relationship – nor should they try. A thumping good yarn though – highly recommended!

BELOW: Wilkie Collins on Pinterest (The Long Victorian).

BELOW: The Woman in White book covers

Book covers of the novel The Woman in White


Worst couples in literature – The complete list

No. 11.  Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

No. 10.  Rosamund Vincy and Dr Lydgate from Middlemarch (George Eliot)

No. 9.  Lydia and George Wickham from Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

No. 8.  Dorothea and Edward Casaubon from Middlemarch (George Eliot)

No. 7.  Arabella Donn and Jude Fawley from Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)

No. 6.  Anna Karenina and Alexei Vronsky from Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

No. 5.  Bertha and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

No. 4.  Madeline Bray and Arthur Gride from Nicholas Nickleby (Charles Dickens)

No.3.  Laura Fairlie and Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)

No.2.  Angel & Tess and Alec & Tess from Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)

No.1  Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

15 thoughts on “11 worst couples in literature: Laura Fairlie & Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White

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    1. Thank you! I know some people find The Woman in White a long read, but I was gripped right from the haunting beginning when Walter first meets Anne (dressed all in white) on the road to Hampstead. Not long enough, as far as I’m concerned. The problem is that I keep thinking about the book when I’m busy reading/doing other things.


    1. Hello – oh yes, do consider having another go at The Woman in White (I admit, it’s a favourite). If it seems a struggle (it happens) maybe watch the 1997 TV version (less than 2 hours) first and then have a bash.

      “The Woman In White starring Andrew Lincoln”

      I’ve got a few books I never managed to get through – and more than a few I read and then instantly forgot! Doing the blog helps. With some books it is love at first sight and a lifetime relationship – and others – nope, it’s just not meant to be.


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