Where It All Goes Down
In a Land Far, Far Away… But Probably At the Beginning of the 20th Century in England
The whole story of The Woman in Black is set in some indeterminate historical setting. Though it seems like historical fiction because of the pony and trap and the steam train, we never get a clear sense of the date.
This could be a deliberate choice because of the pull between the past and the present that is pervasive throughout the book. Arthur is just a modern young man when he comes to Crythin Gifford, doing fancy modern things like using telephonesand expecting cars to come pick him up. How silly of him!
On the flip side, the woman in black represents the past—she's all about the pony and trap times and rotting away in a big old house in outdated funeral attire. The fact that we can't quite pinpoint the setting also makes the whole story a little more unsettling, and maybe makes us think about how the story's themes might play out in our own time.
Sam Daily gives a charming description of Crythin Gifford to Arthur as they sit on the train together:
"… There's the drowned churches and the swallowed-up village," he chuckled. "Those are particularly fine examples of 'nothing to see.' And we've a good wild run of an abbey with a handsome graveyard—you can get to…