Thomas Hardy Books, In Order

Thomas Hardy, an English novelist and poet, is best known for his Wessex novels, which explore the intricate lives of ordinary people against the backdrop of the fictional county of Wessex. Hardy’s novels are characterized by their realism, psychological depth, and exploration of complex themes such as fate, free will, and the relationship between humans and nature.

Hardy began his literary career as a poet, publishing his first collection, ‘Poems,’ in 1898. However, it was his novels that brought him widespread recognition. His first novel, ‘Desperate Remedies,’ was published in 1871, and he continued to write prolifically throughout his life, producing over 15 novels, as well as numerous short stories and poems.

One of Hardy’s most famous novels is ‘Far from the Madding Crowd,’ published in 1874. Set in the rural landscape of Wessex, the novel tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and spirited young woman who inherits a farm and must navigate the complexities of love, loss, and social expectations. ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ is considered a masterpiece of Victorian literature and has been adapted for film and television numerous times.

Another of Hardy’s major works is ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles,’ published in 1891. The novel tells the tragic story of Tess Durbeyfield, a young woman whose life is shattered by a series of misfortunes and societal injustices. ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ is a powerful indictment of Victorian society’s treatment of women and explores themes of innocence lost, the destructive power of societal norms, and the resilience of the human spirit amidst adversity.

Hardy’s novels are set in the fictional county of Wessex, which is based on his native Dorset. Wessex is a place of both beauty and harshness, and the natural world is often a source of solace and beauty for Hardy’s characters, but it can also be a source of danger and destruction.

Thomas Hardy’s novels are among the most enduring and celebrated works of English literature. His realistic depiction of rural life, his exploration of complex human relationships, and his timeless themes continue to resonate with readers today.

Here are all Thomas Hardy books, in order of publication:

Desperate Remedies (1871)

Desperately Remedies, is Thomas Hardy’s debut novel. It is a darkly captivating tale of passion, betrayal, and retribution, set against the backdrop of the fictional English county of Wessex. The story centers on Edward Springrove, a young architect with humble beginnings, whose heart is captivated by the alluring Cytherea Gray.

Cytherea, an orphan from a once-respectable family, faces the harsh realities of poverty and social constraints. She reluctantly accepts a position as lady’s maid to the eccentric Miss Aldclyffe, a woman whose life is intertwined with Edward’s own.

As Edward’s love for Cytherea intensifies, he finds himself entangled in Miss Aldclyffe’s machinations and the dark secrets that haunt her past. Edward’s desperation to secure Cytherea’s affection leads him down a path of deception, betrayal, and ultimately, a tragic fate.

The novel explores themes of class conflict, social status, and the destructive power of unchecked passion. Hardy masterfully paints a vivid portrait of the Victorian era, highlighting the rigid social hierarchies and the stark contrasts between the lives of the privileged and the underprivileged. Desperate Remedies is a compelling and cautionary tale of the dangers of unrequited love and the consequences of crossing social boundaries.

Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)

Hardy’s second novel, Under the Greenwood Tree, is a charming and lighthearted tale of love, music, and the rhythms of rural life in the fictional English county of Wessex. The story centers around Dick Dewy, a young man from the village of Mellstock, and Fancy Day, the newly arrived schoolteacher. As Dick and Fancy’s paths intertwine through the village’s seasonal festivities and musical traditions, their budding romance blossoms amidst the backdrop of community life.

The novel celebrates the simple joys of rural life, capturing the warmth and camaraderie of the village community. Hardy’s descriptions of the natural world, the changing seasons, and the village’s musical traditions are imbued with a sense of nostalgia and reverence. Under the Greenwood Tree offers a delightful escape into a world of rustic charm and lighthearted romance.

A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)

In A Pair of Blue Eyes we are drawn into the romantic entanglements of Elfride Elmsley, a young woman whose life takes an unexpected turn when she leaves her sheltered rural existence for the bustling city of Bath.

Elfride, captivated by the allure of city life and the attentions of the enigmatic Stephen Smith, becomes engaged to him despite her misgivings. However, her heart remains drawn to her childhood friend, Giles Winterbourne, a man of quiet integrity and unwavering devotion.

As Elfride navigates the complexities of love and betrayal, she grapples with conflicting emotions and societal expectations. The novel explores themes of unrequited love, the pursuit of social status, and the enduring power of true affection.

Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)

Set against the backdrop of the idyllic yet unforgiving English countryside, Far from the Madding Crowd weaves a tale of love, loss, and resilience.

Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and spirited young woman, inherits her late uncle’s farm and finds herself managing her own destiny in a male-dominated world. She attracts the affections of three distinct suitors: the wealthy and reserved William Boldwood, the faithful shepherd Gabriel Oak, and the charismatic but reckless Sergeant Troy.

As Bathsheba navigates the complexities of relationships and societal expectations, she faces trials and tribulations that test her strength and resolve. The novel explores themes of independence, love’s transformative power, and the enduring spirit of humanity amidst the harsh realities of life.

The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)

The Hand of Ethelberta is a satirical novel about social climber Ethelberta Chickerton, who embarks on a journey to elevate her position in society through strategic marriages and alliances.

Ethelberta’s carefully crafted persona masks her humble origins and ambitious aspirations. She deftly navigates the upper echelons of Victorian society, attracting the attention of wealthy suitors and wielding her influence to secure her desired social standing.

However, Ethelberta’s pursuit of social status comes at a price, as she grapples with compromises, moral dilemmas, and the emptiness of superficial relationships. The novel explores themes of social mobility, the allure of wealth and status, and the sacrifices made in the pursuit of worldly success.

The Return of the Native (1878)

Set against the backdrop of the desolate and enigmatic Egdon Heath, The Return of the Native is a tale of thwarted love, tragic consequences, and the enduring power of nature.

Clym Yeobright, a disillusioned diamond merchant, returns to his native Egdon Heath seeking a simpler life and to reconnect with his roots. He becomes captivated by the enigmatic Eustacia Vye, a beautiful woman with a yearning for a more passionate existence.

As their paths intertwine, their relationship is tested by misunderstandings, societal pressures, and the influence of others. Clym’s idealism clashes with Eustacia’s restlessness, leading to a web of betrayals and tragic consequences.

The novel explores themes of fate, the destructive power of unfulfilled desires, and the enduring influence of the natural world on human emotions and destinies.

The Trumpet-Major (1880)

The Trumpet-Major paints a vivid and humorous portrait of life in 19th-century England during the Napoleonic Wars. The novel centers around John Loveday, a young trumpeter in the local militia, whose romantic pursuits and mischievous escapades provide a backdrop for the social and political tensions of the time. As John falls in love with the enigmatic Miss Osborne, his life becomes entangled with the eccentric Bob Loveday, a man obsessed with military strategy and preparing for an anticipated French invasion.

Amidst the backdrop of local festivities, militia drills, and romantic entanglements, the novel explores themes of love, patriotism, and the resilience of the human spirit amidst the backdrop of war and uncertainty.

A Laodicean (1881)

A Laodicean delves into the complexities of love, ambition, and social expectations in Victorian England.  George Giles, a young architect, inherits a decaying estate and falls in love with Paula Power, a beautiful but ambitious woman.

As George becomes entangled in Paula’s financial schemes and social aspirations, their relationship faces challenges and moral dilemmas. The novel explores themes of social ambition, the pursuit of wealth, and the consequences of compromise in the pursuit of personal desires.

Two on a Tower (1882)

In Thomas Hardy’s Two on a Tower, we are drawn into the intellectual and romantic entanglement of Swithin St. Cleeve, a young and ambitious astronomer, and Lady Viviette Constantine, an intelligent but disillusioned woman trapped in an unhappy marriage.

As Swithin and Lady Constantine embark on nightly stargazing sessions atop a remote tower, their shared passion for astronomy blossoms into a deeper connection. Their relationship defies societal expectations and challenges the rigid social norms of the time.

The novel explores themes of intellectual freedom, the pursuit of knowledge, and the transformative power of love amidst the constraints of Victorian society.

The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)

Set against the backdrop of the fictional town of Casterbridge, The Mayor of Casterbridge chronicles the rise and fall of Michael Henchard, a man haunted by past mistakes and driven by ambition.

Henchard’s life takes a dramatic turn when he impulsively sells his wife and child at a fair, an act of desperation that sets in motion a series of tragic events. Years later, Henchard returns to Casterbridge, seeking redemption and a chance to rebuild his life.

As Henchard ascends the social ladder and attains the position of mayor, his past sins resurface, threatening to unravel the life he has carefully constructed. The novel explores themes of fate, the consequences of past actions, and the struggle for redemption amidst societal judgment.

The Woodlanders (1887)

Immersed in the rugged beauty of the Great Wessex Forest, The Woodlanders delves into the complex relationships and emotional turmoil of the inhabitants of Little Hintock.

Giles Winterborne, a skilled timber merchant, finds himself torn between his love for the beautiful and independent Grace Melbury and his loyalty to his devoted but socially inferior wife, Marty South.

As relationships intertwine and betrayals unfold, the novel explores themes of love, loss, social class, and the enduring influence of nature on human emotions and destinies.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)

In Thomas Hardy’s poignant novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, we are drawn into the tragic life of Tess Durbeyfield, a young woman whose innocence is shattered by a series of misfortunes and societal injustices.

Tess’s life takes a devastating turn when she is seduced and abandoned by Alec d’Urberville, a man determined to exploit her vulnerability. Haunted by her past, Tess seeks solace in her relationship with Angel Clare, a man of unwavering faith and morality.

However, their love is challenged by societal expectations, religious beliefs, and the enduring consequences of Tess’s past. The novel explores themes of innocence lost, the destructive power of societal norms, and the resilience of the human spirit amidst adversity.

Jude the Obscure (1895)

Jude the Obscure delves into the complex and controversial lives of Jude Fawley, a young stonemason with aspirations of becoming a scholar, and Sue Bridehead, an unconventional woman seeking intellectual freedom and personal fulfillment.

Their relationship, unconventional and often tumultuous, challenges societal norms, religious beliefs, and the rigid class structures of Victorian England. Jude’s burning ambition and Sue’s independent spirit clash with societal expectations, leading to a series of trials and tribulations.

The novel explores themes of social mobility, the pursuit of knowledge, and the enduring power of love amidst societal constraints and personal struggles.

The Well-Beloved (1897)

In Thomas Hardy’s unconventional novel, The Well-Beloved, we are transported on a fantastical journey spanning three generations, following the pursuit of an elusive and ever-changing ideal of beauty and love.

John Wellstood, a sculptor, embarks on an obsessive quest to capture the perfect form of feminine beauty, pursuing three distinct women – Avice, Marcia, and Jocelyn – each embodying a different aspect of his idealized vision.

As John’s pursuit unfolds, the novel explores themes of artistic obsession, the fleeting nature of beauty, and the transformative power of love.


And that’s all Thomas Hardy books in order. Did you have any idea Thomas Hardy wrote quite so many books?

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