Complete Texts of Thomas Hardy's Novels
Hardy’s literary reputation – his fame and fortune – was based entirely upon his appeal as a novelist. Widespread public acclaim came with his fourth novel Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) – sufficient to allow him to abandon his architectural career in favour of the less certain path of a writer of imaginative fiction. Over the ensuing twenty years he published a further ten novels, variably received at the time. However in his final five novels – a sequence beginning with The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) – he found his mature voice, producing fiction which upset Mrs Grundy and in one case (Jude) was burnt by the Bishop of Wakefield, ensuring his place in the premier elite of English novelists.
Hardy’s professed desire was to be a poet – and how frequently does the poet’s eye surface within his fiction – stating with typical (and ironic) modesty that he wished no more than to be considered ‘a good hand at a serial’. In accordance of with the habit of the time, his novels first appeared in monthly instalments in magazines before being published in three volume form.
Each link contains a description and critical appreciation of each of Hardy’s novels – written by Professor Michael Irwin, distinguished Hardy Scholar and former Chairman of the Thomas Hardy Society.