Advertisement Advertisement
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wessex Tales” as Want to Read:
Wessex Tales
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wessex Tales

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  855 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In "Wessex Tales," his first collection of short stories, Hardy sought to record the legends, superstitions, local customs and lore of a Wessex that was rapidly passing out of memory. But these "Tales" also portray the social and economic stresses of Dorset in the 1880s, and reveal Hardy's growing scepticism about the possiblity of achieving personal and sexual satisfactio ...more
Paperback, 189 pages
Published October 5th 1995 by Wordsworth Editions (first published 1888)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wessex Tales, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wessex Tales

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,627)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
By now I think I must have made it fairly obvious that I love Thomas Hardy, and so I was looking forward to my re-reading of this superb collection of Hardy shorter fiction for my on-going Hardy reading challenge.
Wessex Tales contains seven stories, the first two of them really very short – the others considerably longer. In this collection Hardy explored familiar themes of marriage and rural life that we see in his novels, but he also experiments rather in a supernatural tale, ‘The Withered Ar
It took me a long time to read Hardy, I guess there is a fear of approaching a great novelist. These short stories are an ideal introduction, after reading these I was inspired to read "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" and I am currently reading "The Return of the Native". Hardy is like the rural equivalent of Dickens, exposing the inequalities of the Victorian Countryside just as Dickens was exposing the inequalities in Victorian London. Hardy's tales are set in Wessex which loosely corresponds with D ...more
In the first place, I love Thomas Hardy so the fact I would like his Wessex Tales is a given.
Hardy also shows his versatility in depicting the lives of every day people, the poor and the rich, a supernatural tale, a story about smuggling and smugglers and a potential love affair gone awry.
Hardy was also recording legends and customs of his native Dorset.
For me, at least, it was just fun to "go home" and listen to the music of the language.
Sometimes I tire of reading a short story anthology because you get into a story, and then it ends, and then you have to meet a new set of characters, etc. However, for anyone who reads a lot of Hardy, some of these stories were expanded to be included as scenes of some of his novels, and I thought it was fun to examine them under that light.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Not all editions of Wessex Tales are created equal. It was first published in 1888 with 5 stories. A new edition was published in 1896, which included a new story "An Imaginative Woman." There was one more edition in 1912 which included the core five stories, but seemingly played musical chairs with others.

I have been reading Hardy on my Kindle (Complete Works of Thomas Hardy) which included the 1896 edition. I'm so glad for that, else I would have missed that added story, which was one of my f
Nell  (andnellwrites)
This is a great introduction to those unfamiliar with Hardy's work. Easy to digest and never 'bogged down' with allusive or flowery language, this is Hardy stripped down. Each tale possesses its own element of scandal, with characters embroiled in extra-marital affairs of the heart, illegitimate children and jealousy. What's all the more tantalising is often Hardy refrains from being so explicit. Much is revealed through the gossipy aside from an otherwise irrelevant stock character, with the se ...more
Everett Darling
Hardy's got a true talent for tragedy. The Melancholy Hussar, a doleful tale of ill–fated lovers, brought a tear to my cheek, while Fellow-Townsmen and The Withered Arm nearly did the same.

The stories are simply too short. Not that short-story writing isn't an art unto itself, where one could concede to a certain format. Only that Hardy's world seems to call for a lengthier story. I found myself drawn in, and before being completely in the throws, was pulled out again to speculate on lives I was
Thomas Hardy has more and more impressed me as I have, late in life, reread “The Return of the Native,” and read for the first time “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and “Tess of the D’Ubervilles.” All of these novels take place in the southwest part of England that Hardy called “Wessex.”
Hardy is less known for his short stories, but I found that the seven short stories in his “Wessex Tales,” published in 1886, achieve the same high standard of his famous novels. They use his same intimate knowledge
My thoughts in this review are pulled from my posts when we read this in the Boonsboro Literary Guild. I thought it would be convenient to just compile them all here for one place of easy access instead of writing everything again, with the only difference being slightly different wording since I mean the thoughts would still be from me and be the same now as they were when I wrote the below :)

The Three Strangers:

The quote about having one child a year...the simplistic and basic setting of Hardy
Hardy, Thomas
The Thomas Hardy Omnibus: 4 Great Novels and 7 Short Stories

In compilation only.

1) The Three Strangers
2) A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four
3) The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion
4) The Withered Arm
5) Fellow-Townsmen
6) Interlopers at the Knap
7) The Distracted Preacher
Clare B
Character names:
Charles Jake (Charley)
Elijah New
John Pitcher
(Shepherd) Fennel
Mrs Fennel
Oliver Giles
Timothy Summers
Solomon Selby
Phyllis Grove
Dr Grove
Humphrey Gould
Matthäus Tina
Christoph Bless
(Farmer) Lodge
Rhoda Brook
Gertrude Lodge
(Hangman) Davies
(Conjuror) Trendle
Charles Downe
Emily Downe
George Barnet
Xantippe Barnet
Mr Melrose
Lucy Savile
John Green
Mr Charlson
Andrew Jones
Mr Watkins (father and son)
Mr Browse
Charles Darton (Charley)
Japheth Jones
Sarah Hall (Sally, Sal)
Ezra (Ezzy)
I first read Thomas Hardy in my very first course at ASU. It was Critical Reading and Writing About Literature and the professor was a very eccentric woman, Kathryn Harris. I hated that class, but I'm glad she introduced me to Thomas Hardy.
Loved this. Each story is like a super-concentrated shot of bitterness and misery. Looking for all the depression a Hardy novel can muster but don't have the time for hundreds of pages? This is your book!
Some absolutely spanking Wessex vignettes are to be discovered in this selection. The journey to the house in 'The Three Strangers' is particularly memorable.
Gilly McGillicuddy
I loved these a lot. Yet more short stories to add to the list for this year. I never usually read short stories. Wth, 2008? Wth?
A collection of short stories. Some of these were excellent, in particular, "The Withered Hand." Others were just OK.
Sarah Dorra
Thomas Hardy didn't become The Thomas hardy for nothing.
Aug 24, 2008 Anca rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bbe
Shelves: old-holidays
Cuprinsul cartii m-a descumpanit un pic pentru ca în carte sînt reunite Povestiri din Wessex care, din cîte stiam, sînt un volum separat, si Cîteva amintiri ale calatorilor din diligenta. Sa înteleg deci ca astea compun volumul Micile ironii ale vietii? Pentru ca pe Amazon volumul e structurat altfel. Oricum, sa purcedem:

În primul rînd, ma asteptam sa gasesc mai multa ironie în povestiri; nu ca n-ar fi fost, dar nu atît de evidenta si amara cum credeam ca e genul lui Hardy. Nu-i nimic; e de rema
An excellent and true Hardian set of stories that capture the essence of 19th c English country life. Hardy's preoccupation with the Immanent Will is prominently felt in these stories, and they also bear testimony to the author's unmatched talent in giving seep insights into human character.
The story of Rhoda Brooks and the one on Lucy are particularly touching.
Lee Anne
This collection of short stories and novellas starts out slow, with stories that typify my "Why I Don't Like Short Stories" problem (and why don't I like short stories? It's usually two reasons: The story fizzles out, with no real ending, and/or the ending is supposed to be a shocking twist that I can see coming well before it's intended.). But then "The Withered Arm" is a real corker; even though I figured it out beforehand, it still had a creepy sense of dread and escalating tension. "Fellow-T ...more
Joel Corney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This contains some of my favourite short stories by Hardy; 'The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion' is probably one of the sweetest short stories I've read, and it was a desire to reread this one which prompted me to reread the whole book again today. Hardy manages to create such a sense of longing and loss in such a short space, this alone confirms him as one of the greats in my opinion. 'The Withered Arm' and 'The Distracted Preacher' are quite wonderful, while the rest of the stories are ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
Some of these stories were insanely creepy. I can see why they are included in anthologies with Poe.
Kate Millin
I am reading this in an e-book complete works edition as part of an online Hardy reading group. We are reading the novels in the order in which they were published. I have enjoyed reading these short stories a lot. I liked the fact that Hardy included a range of styles of story including mysteries which you don't get in his full length novels. I also found it a quicker read - maybe because they were shorter.
A great little book with some worthwhile stories. My favourite was the one about the German soldier, even though it was very sad. Although I also liked the smuggling one a lot too. This was the sort of book that's great to dip in and out of, and I returned to it several times over a few weeks, reading a story and then returning it to my bookshelf until I felt like another!
Brilliant collection of tales, predominantly stories of local legends of smuggling, supernatural and thwarted love, its hard to categorise these into just one style of writin as every story is so vastly different, i have read his work before but these took on a whole different aspect of writing.
Well worth reading.
Russell George
Wonderful to read Hardy again, and also to be reminded how enjoyable he is. Real sense of place and time, but his characters usually act and react in ways familiar to any generation. Not sure whether I could embark on another of his novels, but as a short story writer he’s very easy to pick up again.
A collection of stories wrote in the 1800's. They are a bit hard to understand at times because they are so old but you still get the meaning of the stories. It's hard to believe they were wrote so long ago but they go to show some things never change. The stories about the hangman are interesting.
Loved a few of the stories, didn't get too sucked in to a few. Most are, in true Hardy fashion, about losing in love (and usually, just barely losing, so all the more painful). If you feel like reading some heartbreak, go for "An Imaginative Woman" and "Fellow Townsmen".
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 54 55 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Poetical Works
  • Thomas Hardy
  • The Egoist
  • Stories For Christmas
  • Heart of the West
  • A Whisper in the Dark
  • Ayala's Angel
  • Scenes of Clerical Life
  • In Chancery (The Forsyte Saga)
  • The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism
  • Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism
  • Legends of Charlemagne
  • Roderick Hudson
  • St. Mawr & The Man Who Died
  • The Tomorrow-Tamer
  • Five Women Who Loved Love: Amorous Tales from 17th-Century Japan
  • The Touchstone
Thomas Hardy, OM, was an English author of the naturalist movement, although in several poems he displays elements of the previous romantic and enlightenment periods of literature, such as his facination with the supernatural. He regarded himself primarily as a poet and composed novels mainly for financial gain. The bulk of his work, set mainly in the semi-fictional land of Wessex, delineates char ...more
More about Thomas Hardy...
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Far from the Madding Crowd  Jude the Obscure The Mayor of Casterbridge The Return of the Native

Share This Book

“Is it necessary to add that the echoes of many characteristic tales, dating from that picturesque time, still linger about here, in more or less fragmentary form to be caught by the attentive ear? Some of them I have repeated; most of them I have forgotten; one I have never repeated, and assuredly can never forget.” 2 likes
“She always said that the one feature in his proposal which overcame her hesitation was the obvious purity and straightforwardness of his intentions. He showed himself to be so virtuous and kind: he treated her with a respect to which she had never before been accustomed; and she was braced to the obvious risks of the voyage by her confidence in him.” 2 likes
More quotes…