Take Part In This Project!

Contribute a Footnote

While you’re reading The Woman in White, you may encounter a detail that makes you want to know more. This could be because of the significant differences between twenty-first-century cultures and those that Wilkie Collins and the fictional characters in his novel inhabited—perhaps a fact or an uncommon word puzzles you and you find yourself looking it up. If you’re asking a question about this detail, it’s quite likely that others are too. We’d love for you to share what you’ve discovered with us.

You might also encounter a point in the text touches on a particular interest area of yours. Perhaps your dissertation is about Victorian watercolor artists and you can provide some context about Walter Hartright’s duties as a painting instructor. Perhaps you’re passionate about historical clothing design and a plot point drives you to clarify that Victorian corsets weren’t usually as uncomfortable as many modern-day people believe. Perhaps you once wrote a paper about Victorian property laws and would like to provide information about who controlled a woman’s belongings after her marriage. We’d love your input!

Participation Objectives

  • Identify a point in the text that other readers might not be able to interpret through the novel’s context alone.
  • Determine the level of detail that would be appropriate for an explanatory aside.
  • Apply communication and citation conventions that will allow your readers to learn more about your topic if it catches their interest.

Components to Include

(1) The serial installment number and the sentence or paragraph your footnote applies to.

(2) A footnote of about one to three sentences in length.

(3) Citation information for the source(s) that you drew from to compose this footnote. 

(4) Information about how you’d like to be credited in the Contributors page—(that is, by name, with a pseudonym, or anonymously).

Please visit the Contribution Guidelines page for more detailed information about how and where to submit your contribution.


Qualities of a strong footnote

  • It is succinct and purposeful.
    • Remember that your audience for this footnote is pausing during their reading of a novel to learn more from you. Your goal is to provide them with information that might bring the story more to life for them. Ideally, your footnote should be short enough not to take your readers too far afield from the narrative, as they’ll be returning to the narrative moment shortly. The sweet spot for this is typically about one to three sentences.
  • It is backed up by at least one reliable source.  See the “Finding Primary and Secondary Sources for Your Research” section of this text for additional resources.
  • It paraphrases secondary research findings and provides a clear citation.
  • If it includes an excerpt from a primary source, that quotation is brief.

Common footnote types

  • Historical details that have a meaningful connection to the scene
  • Cultural details that are relevant to the period in which the novel is set (1849-1850) or the period when it was first published (1859-1860)
  • Resources or articles you’ve encountered that relate to a chapter in the novel in some significant way

Note: There are a number of other editions of The Woman in White that have footnotes. Our goal is not to paraphrase these existing footnotes, as doing so would work against the ideals of this project and could possibly create legal challenges to boot. Instead of consulting previous critical editions of this text to inspire your footnotes, please follow your own curiosity!


Footnote Reference Text: Installment Number 1 – “Very provoking: it spoils the Set,” murmured Sarah to herself, mournfully absorbed over the ruins of the broken cup.”

Footnote: Tea sets were typically sold as a collection of multiple place settings, so reducing the number of teacups in the set effectively reduces the family’s ability to entertain with that set at all. As Thad Logan writes in his research on the culture of the Victorian parlor, having a tea set was one of the signifiers of a family’s middle-class status, so families like Hartright’s expended “considerable anxiety about the acquisition and maintenance of such possessions” (Logan 207).

Citation: Logan, Thad. The Victorian Parlour: A Cultural Study, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 207.

The Nitty Gritty

Q: How is this different from a marginal annotation in the web text? 

A: For one thing, unlike annotations added to the web text’s Hypothes.is sidebar, any footnotes you contribute will show up in the body of the text. This means that later print, Kindle, and other e-text edition exports will also include your work.

Q: How will I be recognized in the volume? 

A: We’d like to give you due credit for the work you’ve shared (that is, if you’re comfortable sharing your name or pseudonym in the text). Your footnote will be accompanied by a Hypothes.is annotation and your name will also appear in the Contributors page.




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The Woman in White: Grangerized Edition Copyright © 2020 by The 19th-Century Open Pedagogy Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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