Far from the Madding Crowd

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Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart. Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy's novels to give the name of Wessex to the landscape of south-west England, and is set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility.

Illustrated by Helen Allingham, with an Afterword by David Stuart Davies.

About Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset in 1840, the eldest of four children. At the age of sixteen he became an apprentice architect. With remarkable self discipline he developed his classical education by studying between the hours of four and eight in the morning. With encouragement from Horace Moule of Queens' College Cambridge, he began to write fiction. His first published novel was Desperate Remedies in 1871. Thus began a series of increasingly dark novels all set within the rural landscape of his native Dorset, called Wessex in the novels. Such was the success of his early novels, including A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), that he gave up his work as an architect to concentrate on his writing. However he had difficulty in getting Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1889) published and was forced to make changes in order for it to be judged suitable for family readers. This coupled with the stormy reaction to the negative tone of Jude the Obscure (1894) prompted Hardy to abandon novel writing altogether. He concentrated mainly on poetry in his latter years. He died in January 1928 and was buried in Westminster Abbey; but his heart, in a separate casket, was buried in Stinsford, Dorset.

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