"the figure stood motionless, staring, staring out to sea"

This image, which recalls the chapter epigraph, was the germination of the novel:

"From his 180-year-old house high on a bluff in Lyme Regis, Dorset, John Fowles can look down to a curving stone jetty called the Cobb. Two years ago, he had a vision of a woman in a long Victorian skirt standing there with her back to him. It was the basis for the opening scene of The French Lieutenant's Woman and, says Fowles, 'the tiny seed from which the whole book started.'"

From Time magazine's 1969 review of the novel