Desperate Remedies

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Penguin Books Limited, 1998 - Fiction - 460 pages
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Hardy described Desperate Remedies as a tale of 'mystery, entanglement, surprise and moral obliquity'. Cytherea has taken a position as lady's maid to the eccentric arch-intriguer Miss Aldclyffe. On discovering that the man she loves, Edward Springrove, is already engaged to his cousin, Cytherea comes under the influence of Miss Aldclyffe's fascinating, manipulative steward Manston. Blackmail, murder and romance are among the ingredients of Hardy's first published novel, and in it he draws blithely on the 'sensation novel' perfected by Wilkie Collins. Several perceptive critics praised the author as a novelist with a future when Desperate Remedies appeared anonymously in 1871. In its depiction of country life and insight into psychology and sexuality it already bears the unmistakable imprint of Hardy's genius.

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Desperate remedies: a novel

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Hardy launched his writing career with this 1871 novel, which actually was published anonymously. Its sexuality, including lesbianism, was apparently too much of a Victorian eyebrow-raiser for him to attach his name. This edition includes a map, a glossary, and scholarly notes. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Thomas Hardywas born in a cottage in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, on 2 June 1840. He was educated locally and at sixteen was articled to a Dorchester architect, John Hicks. In 1862 he moved to London and found employment with another architect, Arthur Blomfield. He now began to write poetry and published an essay. By 1867 he had returned to Dorset to work as Hicks's assistant and began his first (unpublished) novel, The Poor Man and the Lady.

On an architectural visit to St Juliot in Cornwall in 1870 he met his first wife, Emma Gifford. Before their marriage in 1874 he had published four novels and was earning his living as a writer. More novels followed and in 1878 the Hardys moved from Dorset to the London literary scene. But in 1885, after building his house at Max Gate near Dorchester, Hardy again returned to Dorset. He then produced most of his major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge(1886), The Woodlanders(1887), Tess of the D'Urbervilles(1891), The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved(1892) and Jude the Obscure(1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure, he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts.

After a long and bitter estrangement, Emma Hardy died at Max

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