The Historian of ‘Wessex’: The Folk Background and Provenance of Some of Thomas Hardy’s Short Stories

David Cornelius


This article surveys the young Thomas Hardy's immersion in the oral tales of his local community, including echoes of the traumatic events of the Napoleonic Wars. It is then the complex and poignant links between passions, circumstances, hopes and decisions which form those striking moments which are at the core of story. That many such stories could be linked to specific locations, or to still-living protagonists, underscored their importance. Hardy presented himself as an historian of this community, and later was able to use the genre of the short story, in its late-Victorian context, to capture well this by-then vanishing oral tradition.


Folkloristics; Literary; Thomas Hardy;

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