Wessex Tales

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File:Wessex Tales.jpg
First edition title page

Wessex Tales is an 1888 collection of tales written by English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, many of which are set before Hardy's birth in 1840.[citation needed]

In the various short stories, Hardy writes of the true nature of nineteenth century marriage and its inherent restrictions, the use grammar as a diluted form of thought, the disparities created by the role of class status in determining societal rank, the stance of women in society and the severity of even minor diseases causing the rapid onset of fatal symptoms prior to the introduction of sufficient medicinal practices. A focal point of all the short stories is that of social constraints acting to diminish one's contentment in life, necessitating unwanted marriages, repression of true emotion and succumbing to melancholia due to constriction within the confines of 19th century perceived normalcy.[1]


Published in 1888, Wessex Tales contained five stories ("The Three Strangers", "The Withered Arm", "Fellow-Townsmen", "Interlopers at the Knap", and "The Distracted Preacher") all published first in periodicals.

For the 1896 reprinting, Hardy added "An Imaginative Woman," but in 1912 moved this to another collection, Life's Little Ironies, while at the same time transferring two stories—"A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four" and "The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion"—from Life's Little Ironies to Wessex Tales.[2]

TV and Film Adaptations

Six of the short stories were adapted as television dramas by the BBC as the anthology series called Wessex Tales:


  1. "AQA - Anthology Zone - Thomas Hardy". anthology.aqa.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Malcolm, Cheryl Alexander; Malcolm, David (2008). "Thomas Hardy: Wessex Tales : A Companion to the British and Irish Short Story : Blackwell Reference Online". Blackwell Publishing Inc. Retrieved 2014-05-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links