The ne'er-do-well sire of a starving brood suddenly discovers a family connection to the aristocracy, and his selfish scheme to capitalize on their wealth sets a fateful plot in motion. Jack Durbeyfield dispatches his gentle daughter Tess to the home of their noble kin, anticipating a lucrative match between the lovely girl and a titled cousin. Innocent Tess finds the path of the d'Urberville estate paved with ruin in this gripping tale of the inevitability of fate and the tragic nature of existence.Subtitled A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, Thomas Hardy's sympathetic portrait of a blameless young woman's destruction first appeared in 1891. Its powerful indictment of Victorian hypocrisy, along with its unconventional focus on the rural lower class and its direct treatment of sexuality and religion, raised a ferocious public outcry. Tess of the D'Ubervilles is Hardy's penultimate novel; the pressures of critical infamy shortly afterward drove the author to abandon the genre in favor of poetry. Like his fictional heroine, the artist fell victim to a rigidly oppressive moral code.Today, Tess is regarded as Hardy's masterpiece, embodying all of the most profoundly moving elements of its creator's dark vision.
Thomas Hardy's beautiful story of rural tragedy, set in the fictional county of Wessex.
Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset in 1840, the eldest of four children. At the age of sixteen he became an apprentice architect but continued to develop his classical education by studying between the hours of four and eight each 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. Such was the success of these early works, which included 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 publishing Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1889) 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 (1895), prompted Hardy to abandon writing novels altogether and he concentrated on poetry for the rest of his life. He died in January 1928.