An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress: And Other Stories

By Thomas Hardy; Pamela Dalziel | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

I

As a thoroughly professional writer, entirely dependent upon his literary earnings, Thomas Hardy was always ready during his fiction-writing career--and especially in its earlier phases--to take advantage of the openings for short stories in the proliferating magazines of the day. Because of his eventual success, at once literary and commercial, he had many opportunities to review, collect, and revise all of his works, in both prose and verse, and his designedly 'definitive' and canonical Wessex Edition of 1912-31 included no less than four volumes of short stories: Wessex Tales (first published in 1888), A Group of Noble Dames ( 1891), Life's Little Ironies ( 1894), and A Changed Man ( 1913). The contents of the first three of these collections had been so selected and organized as to embody some degree of thematic or structural unity,1 but A Changed Man was put together precisely in order to gather in a number of miscellaneous stories that had not found a place in earlier collections but had nevertheless continued in circulation--often because a pre-1891 publication date had left them without copyright protection in the United States.

Even so, a number of stories, varying from the exceptionally brief to the unusually long, remained permanently excluded from Hardy's collective volumes, and it is to these that the present volume is devoted. Its contents fall into two broad categories, the one comprised of the stories by Hardy which he left uncollected (and in one case unpublished) at the time of his death in 1928, the other of stories similarly uncollected (and in one case unpublished) that were not in any case entirely his work but the products of acknowledged or unacknowledged collaborations with younger women to whom he

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1
See Kristin Brady, The Short Stories of Thomas Hardy: Tales of Past and Present ( London: Macmillan, 1982).

-xi-

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An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress: And Other Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • GENERAL EDITOR'S PREFACE vii
  • Introduction xi
  • NOTE ON THE TEXTS xxxvii
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY xxxx
  • A CHRONOLOGY OF THOMAS HARDY xlvi
  • How I Built Myself a House 3
  • Destiny and a Blue Cloak 11
  • The Thieves Who Couldn't Help Sneezing 36
  • An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress 43
  • Our Exploits at West Poley 114
  • Old Mrs Chundle 164
  • The Doctor's Legend 173
  • The Spectre of the Real 184
  • Blue Jimmy: the Horse Stealer 212
  • The Unconquerable 220
  • EXPLANATORY NOTES 235
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