Any short story can be read as one installment in a much larger work." (Hughes and Lund, The Victorian Serial [1991] 236)

The "larger work" in the case of the short fiction of Thomas Hardy would be "The Wessex Novels," many of his serially published short stories having been subsequently in three volumes, Wessex Tales (Macmillan, 1888), Life's Little Ironies (Macmillan, 894), and A Changed Man and Other Tales (Macmillan, 1913). Not all of Hardy's serially-published stories were illustrated. Although he began writing such abbreviated tales in 1865 ("How I Built My House" in the March issue of Chamber's Journal), not until the appearance of the novella The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid in the summer number of the Graphic in 1883 was a piece of Hardy's short fiction actually published initially with illustration. Sadly, although they afford ample opportunity for such artistic complement, none of the stories collected in Wessex Tales and only one of the stories in the framed-tale A Group of Noble Dames was illustrated because such periodicals as the Bolton Weekly Journal ("A Mere Interlude," 1885), the Manchester Weekly Times ("Alicia's Diary," 1887), and the renowned Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine ("The Withered Arm," 1888) did not provide such agreeable but costly accompaniments. Only at the close of the 1880s with the publication of the first of what would become A Group of Noble Dames did Hardy's short stories start to acquire appropriate illustration, the "A Tryst at an Ancient Earthwork," first published in England in the English Illustrated Magazine (December 1893) having been treated as if it were a non-fiction account by receiving four grainy photographic accompaniments provided by the professional photographer W. Pouncy of Dorchester. Thus, of Hardy's forty-four short stories (of which only thirty-seven were collected, according to Martin Ray in Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories, 1997), a much smaller number should be considered illustrated fiction: using the principles of initial illustrated serial publication in Great Britain, and of each segment of a group of framed tales such as "Wessex Folk" being a separate story (and specifically excluding the novella The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid), one arrives at a figure of twenty-one. However, proof of Hardy's having been actively involved in the composition or development of any of these illustrations, with the exception of those for "The First Countess of Wessex" is negligible. A total of fourteen artists, many of them leaders of fin-de-siecle illustration, provided periodicals such as Harper's New Monthly Magazine with a total of some fifty-seven illustrations for twenty-one stories, some as woodcuts and others as lithographs. These illustrators in chronological order of the appearance of their work in British or Anglo-British periodicals are

"The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" by Charles Stanley Reinhart

"A Changed Man" by A. S. Hartrick (1899)

"A Tragedy of Two Ambitions" by George Lambert

Illustrations of various works by William Hatherell

"The First Countess of Wessex" by various artists

"The Grave by the Hand-post" by George M. Patterson

"An Imaginative Woman" by Arthur J. Goodman (1894)

"Master John Horseleigh, Knight" by W. B. Wollen (1893)

Wessex Folk"

"To Please His Wife"

"A Mere Interlude" by Gordon Browne

"A Committeeman of 'The Terror.'" by H. Burgess


Victorian Web Victorian Illustration Thomas Hardy

Last modified 19 April 2010