When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.


Tess Durbeyfield

The beautiful but doomed heroine of the novel represents all tht Hardy most admired in women. Her purity of nature and steadfastness in her love for Angel make her almost too good for this world.

Angel Clare

Soft-spoken, tender and caring, he excites undying devotion in Tess. But something unyielding in his nature is his -amd Tess’s – undoing.

Alec d’Urberville

The personification of selfish desire and indulgence, Alec robes Tess of her maidenhood and is responsible ultimately, for her downfall.

Retty Priddle
Marian and
Izz Huett

The three fresh young milkmaids at Talbothays, who share a room with Tess and are all half in love with Angel Clare.

John Durbeyfield

Tess’s reckless father whose discovery of noble lineage goes straight to his head, filling him with greed.

Joan Durbeyfield

A good woman who loves all her children but is singularly lacking in wisdom.

Dairyman Crick

The warm, beneficent master dairyman at Talbothays, who is kind to Tess.

Farmer Groby

The man who resenting Tess’s refined manner, makes her winter at Flintcomb-Ash especially harsh.

Mr Clare

Angles Farther, an honest person who divides the world into believers and nonbelievers, but has a good heart.


On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor.

Opening line

I don’t know; but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound – a few blighted.

chapter 4

Thus, the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting’s import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects…

chapter 5

Out of the frying pan into the fire!

Chapter 10

“My life looks as if it had been wasted for want of chances! When I see what you know, what you have read, and seen, and thought, I feel what a nothing I am!

chapter 19

I can’t bear to let anybody have him but me! Yet it is wrong Tess him, and may kill him when he knows

chapter 28

you always courting me, and always thinking as much of me as you have done through the past summertime!

chapter 32

She would have laid down her life for ‘ee. I could do no more.

Chapter 40

O why have you treated me so monstrously, Angel! I do not deserve it. I have thought it all over carefully, and I can never, never forgive you! You know that I did not intend to wrong you – why have you so wronged me? You are cruel, cruel indeed! I will try to forget you. It is all injustice I have received at your hands!

chapter 51

And the d’Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing.

chapter 59

As soon as they had strength they arose, joined hands again, and went on.

Last line

About Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

Early life

Thomas Hardy, the son of a stonemason and a local builder also named Thomas, and his mother Jemima (Hand) was born on 2 June 1840 in Higher Bockhampton (then Upper Bockhampton), a village in thee parish of Stinsford to the east of Dorchester in Dorset, England, where dad worked Thomas (1811–1892) in Beaminster. 

Thomas’s mother, who herself was well-read, educated Thomas until he went to school at Bockhampton when he was eight. Attending Mr. Last’s Academy for Young Gentlemen in Dorchester, where he learned Latin and demonstrated academic potential.

However  Because Hardy’s family lacked the money to send Thomas to  university his education ended at the age of 16, to become apprentice to James Hicks, a local architect.

Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester until 1862, when he enrolled as a student at King’s College London. Where he won a number of prizes including from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association.

Joining Arthur Blomfield’s practice as assistant architect in April 1862 he worked on All Saints’ parish church in Windsor, Berkshire in 1862–64. A reredos, possibly designed by Hardy, was discovered behind panelling at All Saints’ in August 2016.

Another one of Hardy’s jobs was the excavation of part of the graveyard of St Pancras Old Church prior to its destruction, which was caused by the Midland Railway extension to a new terminus at St Pancras.

Because Hardy was acutely conscious of class divisions and his social inferiority he was never really happy in London. Which meant that at this time he became interested in social reform and the works of John Stuart Mill.

He was introduced by his Dorset friend Horace Moule to the works of Charles Fourier and Auguste Comte. Mill’s essay On Liberty was one of Hardy’s cures for despair, and in 1924 he declared that

 “my pages show harmony of view with” 

Due to a concern about his health Hardy left London after 5 years returning  to Dorset, settling in Weymouth, where he concentrated on his writing.

Marriage and novel writing

Hardy Met his first wife, Emma Gifford In 1870, when on an architectural mission to restore the parish church of St Juliot in Cornwall. They were married  4 years later in Kensington in late 1874. Renting St David’s Villa, Southborough (now Surbiton) for a year. 

By DeFacto – Own work
, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In 1885 Thomas and his wife moved into Max Gate, a house designed by Hardy and built by his brother. Though the marriage failed and they later became estranged, in 1912 Emma’s subsequent death had a traumatic effect on him. and after her death, Hardy made a pilgrimage to  Cornwall to revisit places linked with their courtship. While his Poems 1912–13 reflect upon her death. 

Hardy married his secretary Florence Emily Dugdale in 1914, who was 39 years his junior. He remained preoccupied with his first wife’s death and tried to overcome his remorse by writing poetry. 

By unknown (presumably Thomas Hardy) – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University [1], Public Domain,

In his later years, he kept a Wire Fox Terrier called Wessex, who’s grave stone can be found on the Max Gate grounds. In 1910, Hardy had been appointed a Member of the Order of Merit and was also for the first time nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was nominated again for the prize 11 years later.

First World War

Hardy was horrified by the destruction caused by First World War, pondering that 

“I do not think a world in which such fiendishness is possible to be worth the saving” and “better to let western ‘civilization’ perish, and let the black and yellow races have a chance.” 

  He wrote to John Galsworthy that

“the exchange of international thought is the only possible salvation for the world.”


Hardy became ill with pleurisy in December and died at Max Gate the following month just after 9 pm on 11 January 1928, having dictated his final poem to his wife on his deathbed;

The cause of death was cited, on his death certificate, as “cardiac syncope”, with “old age” given as a contributory factor. 

The funeral was held on 16 January at Westminster Abbey, which proved a controversial occasion as Hardy had wished for his body to be interred at Stinsford in the same grave as his first wife, Emma. 

His family and friends concurred; however, his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, insisted that he be placed in the abbey’s famous Poets’ Corner. A compromise was reached whereby his heart was buried at Stinsford with Emma, and his ashes in Poets’ Corner. 

Hardy’s estate at death was valued at £95,418 (equivalent to £5,800,000 in 2019), 

After Hardy’s death, the executors of his estate burnt his letters and notebooks, however twelve notebooks survived, one of them containing notes and extracts of newspaper stories from the 1820s, and research into these has provided insight into how Hardy used them in his works. 

The year of his death Mrs Hardy published The Early Life of Thomas Hardy, 1841–1891, compiled largely from contemporary notes, letters, diaries, and biographical memoranda, as well as from oral information in conversations extending over many years.

Hardy’s birthplace in Bockhampton and his house Max Gate, both in Dorchester, are owned by the National Trust. 



TitlePublication Date
Desperate Remedies18711871
Under The Greenwood1872
A Pair of Blue Eyes1873
Far Form the Madding Crowd1874
The Hand of Ethelberta1876
The Return of the Native1878
The Trumpet Major1880
A Laodicean1881
Two on a Tower1882
The Mayor of Casterbridge1886
The Woodlanders1887
Tess of the d’Ubervilles1891
Jude the Obscure1895
The Well-Beloved1897

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