The Hand of Ethelberta
The Hand of Ethelberta: A Comedy in Chapters is a novel by Thomas Hardy, published in 1876. It was written, in serial form, for the Cornhill Magazine, which was edited by Leslie Stephen, a friend and mentor of Hardy's.
At the beginning of the book, we are told that Ethelberta was raised in humble circumstances but, through her work as a governess, married well at the age of eighteen. Her husband died two weeks after the wedding and, now twenty-one, Ethelberta lives with her mother-in-law, Lady Petherwin. In the three years that have elapsed since the deaths of both her husband and father-in-law, Ethelberta has been treated to foreign travel and further privilege by her benefactress, but restricted from seeing her poor family.
The events of the story concern Ethelberta's career as a famous poetess and storyteller as she struggles to support her family and conceal her secret—that her father is a butler. Beautiful, clever, and rational, she easily attracts four very persistent suitors (Mr. Julian, Mr. Neigh, Mr. Ladywell, and Lord Mountclere), but is reluctant to give her much-coveted hand.
Illustrations by George du Maurier
"She Stopped Like a Clock"
"Round Her, Leaning Against Branches, or Prostrate on the Ground, Were Two or Three Individuals"
"Goodness! How Quick You Were"
"It Was A Tender Time"
"The Harefield Estate"
"So Ethelberta Went"
"Can You Tell Us the Way, Sir, to the Hotel Bold Soldier?"
"'In the Writing of the Composer', Observed Lord Mountclere with Interest"
"All Before Them Was A Sheet of Whiteness"
"She Lessened in His Gaze, and Was Soon Out of Sight"
- The Hand of Ethelberta at Project Gutenberg
- The Hand of Ethelberta public domain audiobook at LibriVox
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