John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman

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The composition of The French Lieutenant's Woman began suddenly in 1967 when John Fowles, then already the author of two best-sellers, The Collector (1963) and The Magus (1966), was working on another novel. Fowles found that his imagination was haunted by the recurring image of a mysterious woman standing on the end of a quay and looking out to sea. The image was so powerful that Fowles abandoned the novel he was working on. He evolved the woman into Sarah Woodruff, a penniless Victorian ex-governess. She begins the novel standing on the harbour breakwater at Lyme Regis, Dorset, looking out to sea in 1867, exactly a century before the novel was composed. The locals say that Sarah is pining for her lover. Known as �…

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Citation: Stephenson, William. "The French Lieutenant's Woman". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 October 2002 [, accessed 20 March 2023.]

796 The French Lieutenant's Woman 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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