Folio edition, SIX hardbacks in a slipcase of THE WESSEX TALES by Thomas Hardy. Wood engravings by Peter Reddick. Published by the Folio Society, London in 1993. The text of this edition is taken from the 1912 Wessex Edition which was the last one to be revised by Hardy. Comprising of “UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE; FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD; THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE; THE TRUMPET MAJOR; THE MAYOR of CASTERBRIDGE; and TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES”

The books are in very good condition (Bound in Regency Rayon cloth, blocked with a decorative Corn Dolly motif by the artist with gilt lettering on spine and coloured top page ends) with slight rubbing to the titles on their spines. In its original green slipcase which is in good condition with only minor wear (slight rubbing to a couple of corners and light markings here and there). Internally, the pages are clean and tight and there are no tears and no inscriptions.

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. In his writing, he immortalized the site of his birth — Egdon Heath, in Dorset, near Dorchester. Delicate as a child, he was taught at home by his mother before he attended grammar school. At sixteen, Hardy was apprenticed to an architect, and for many years, architecture was his profession; in his spare time, he pursued his first and last literary love, poetry. Finally convinced that he could earn his living as an author, he retired from architecture, married, and devoted himself to writing. An extremely productive novelist, Hardy published an important book every year or two.

In 1896, disturbed by the public outcry over the unconventional subjects of his two greatest novels — Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure — he announced that he was giving up fiction and afterward produced only poetry. In later years, he received many honors. He died on January 11, 1928, and was buried in Poet’s Corner, in Westminster Abbey. It was as a poet that he wished to be remembered, but today critics regard his novels as his most memorable contribution to English literature for their psychological insight, decisive delineation of character, and profound presentation of tragedy.

Wessex Tales is an 1888 collection of tales written by Hardy, many of which are set before his birth in 1840. Many of his novels, beginning with his second, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), are set in the imaginary county of Wessex. Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), his first success, was followed by The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895), all expressing his stoical pessimism and his sense of the inevitable tragedy of life. Their continuing popularity (many have been filmed) owes much to their richly varied yet accessible style and their combination of romantic plots with convincingly presented characters.

UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE or The Mellstock Quire - A Rural Painting of the Dutch School: Introduction by Angela Thirlwell. "When a young educated woman with the preposterous name of Fancy Day returns to a small village to care for her father, she finds herself pursued by three very different men: the poor but handsome Dick Dewy, the crude but wealthy Mr. Shiner, and the erudite but pompous Parson Maybold. The story is slender but enjoyable, with hints of class conflict and the changes due to come from the impending Industrial Revolution. This charming, timeless story of rural life gave Thomas Hardy his first real taste of success, and with its rustic setting and moving tale of young love, it weaves a spell that still entrances today." Dark green boards and top page ends. Seventh printing. 172 pages.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD: "Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy's novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships." Introduction by Bel Mooney. Yellow boards and top page ends. Eighth printing. 413 pages.

THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE: "Eustacia Vye seeking relief from the ennui of the restricted life on the heath, amuses herself with admiration of Damon Wildeve. Seeing a chance for escape, she marries Clym Yeobright, a native who has returned after living in Paris. Expecting to become the wife of a Paris jeweler, she is merely that of a day laborer in Egdon after the threatened loss of Clym's eyesight. Her attempt to flee with Wildeve ends in their drowning on the edge of the heath. These events mar the life of Thomasin, Wildeve's her wife, and causes Yeobright's estrangement from his mother and finally death." Green boards and top page ends. Eighth printing. 413 pages.

THE TRUMPET MAJOR John Loveday - A soldier in the War with Buonaparte and Robert His Brother: Introduction by Paul I. Webb. "The Trumpet Major is a historical novel set in the Napoleonic Wars, before victory at Trafalgar finally ended the threat of a French invasion. It tells the tale of how Anne Garland has to choose between three competing suitors. Hardy explores the subversive effects of ordinary human desire and conflicting loyalties on systematized versions of history. Hardy distrusted nineteenth-century efforts to systematize history, and in The Trumpet-Major he presents the qualities of desire and conflicting loyalties which he saw as constantly undermining such attempts. The courtship of Anne Garland by her three suitors, the trumpet-major John Loveday, his sailor-brother Bob, and Festus Derriman of the yeomanry cavalry, takes place against the backdrop of England's conflict with Napoleon. Yet for Hardy his characters' loves and sorrows are as much the material of history as any record of emperors and generals. The result is a novel which both utilizes and evades historical fact in a complex manipulation of genre which was later to find its fullest expression in Hardy's great verse-drama The Dynasts." Red boards and top page ends. 314 pages.

The Life and Death of the MAYOR of CASTERBRIDGE - The Story of a Man of Character: "The Mayor of Casterbridge , was first published serially in a London periodical in 1886. The first publication in book form was later that year. Thomas Hardy was an established author at the time and had published nine previous novels (a first, unpublished novel has been lost), but The Mayor of Casterbridge is considered his first masterpiece; some regard it as his greatest tragic novel. The Mayor of Casterbridge is, from beginning to end, the story of Michael Henchard, a skilled farm laborer who, in a drunken rage, sells his young wife, along with their infant child, to a passing sailor. Most of the novel takes place eighteen to twenty years after this event. When the sailor is reported lost at sea, the cast-off wife and now-grown daughter set out to find Michael, who has become an affluent businessman and the mayor of Casterbridge. Michael’s success is temporary, though, as circumstances and his own weaknesses of character combine to bring about his downfall in spite of his attempts to right the wrong he committed years before." Brown boards and top page ends. Seventh printing. 334 pages.

TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES - A Pure Woman: Introduction By Elspeth Sandys. "Set in the magical Wessex landscape so familiar from Thomas Hardy's early work, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" is unique among his great novels for the intense feeling that he lavished upon his heroine, Tess, a pure woman betrayed by love. Hardy poured all of his profound empathy for both humanity and the rhythms of natural life into this story of her beauty, goodness, and tragic fate. In so doing, he created a character who, like Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina, has achieved classic stature." Purple boards and top page ends. 418 pages.

Book sizes: over 6¾" - 9¾" tall. Illustrated with wood engravings.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a very heavy item, weighing around 5 KG

ISBN: n/a


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Folio The Wessex Tales by Thomas Hardy



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Thomas Hardy THE WESSEX TALES Folio Society

    Folio edition, SIX hardbacks in a slipcase published by the Folio Society in 1993. The text of this edition is taken from the 1912 Wessex Edition which was the last one to be revised by Hardy

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