The Mayor of Casterbridge

By Thomas Hardy; Keith Wilson (Notes by)
(Penguin Classics, Paperback, 9780141439785, 448pp.)

Publication Date: April 29, 2003

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Paperback

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Description

The Mayor of Casterbridge opens with an act of such heartlessness and cruelty that it still shocks today. Michael Henchard, an out-of-work hay-trusser, gets drunk at a fair and for five guineas sells his wife and child to a sailor. When the horror of his act finally sets in, Henchard swears he will not touch alcohol for twenty-one years. Through hard work and acumen, he becomes rich, respected, and eventually the mayor of Casterbridge. But eighteen years after his fateful oath, his wife and daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, return to Casterbridge, and his fortunes steadily decline.




About the Author

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.

Keith Wilson is professor and former chair of English at the University of Ottawa and Honorary Vice President of the Thomas Hardy Association.


Keith Wilson is professor and former chair of English at the University of Ottawa and Honorary Vice President of the Thomas Hardy Association.

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