Thomas Hardy's greatness as a novelist and poet is universally acknowledged. These letters provide invaluable glimpses into his life, from the years as an unknown architect's assistant in London in the 1860s to the final period of extensive productivity in the relative isolation of Max Gate. The more than three hundred letters included here have been drawn from the recently completed seven-volume Clarendon Press edition of the Collected
Letters of Thomas Hardy, which was edited by Michael Millgate in collaboration with Richard L. Purdy. Although all aspects of Hardy's career are reflected, the selection particularly emphasizes his personal
rather than his purely professional relationships: ample representation is therefore given to his correspondence with his family, with his two wives, and with such close friends as Edmund Gosse and Florence Henniker. Many other notable figures are also addressed, among them Walter de la Mare, Millicent Fawcett, Harley Granville Barker, Ezra Pound, Marie Stopes, Robert Louis Stevenson, Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Virginia Woolf. The full and immediately accessible annotations to individual
letters are supplemented by editorial commentaries designed to place particular letters or sequences of letters within the broader contexts of Hardy's life and literary career. The volume also includes
a brief introduction, a chronology, and an index.
From reviews of The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy edited by Michael Millgate in collaboration with Richard L. Purdy (OUP, seven volumes, 1978-1988)
`will rank among the highest achievements of literary scholarship'
Desmond Hawkins, Contemporary Review
`has the qualities that a great edition should have ... I do not see how it could have been done better.'
Samuel Hynes, Times Literary Supplement
'In their condensed form, they are utterly absorbing. Michael Millgate has pruned Hardy ... without distorting his shape,...'
Andrew Motion, Sunday Observer
`...excellently chosen and edited by Michael Millgate...'
Sylvia Clayton, Guardian
`This selection is carefully chosen, elegantly edited, and beautifully produced. Recommended - in short - without reservation of any kind.'
Timothy Hands, Thomas Hardy Journal
`They have received exemplary care from Michael Millgate. His commentary, notes and thoughtful index do much to assist the reader's imagination in re-creating the larger context of history and experience, out of which these gritty and taciturned writings have been wrested.'
Adrian Poole, Sunday Correspondent
`excellently chosen and edited by Michael Millgate'
Sylvia Clayton, Guardian
'This selection is carefully chosen, elegantly edited, and beautifully produced. Recommended - in short - without reservation of any kind.'
Thomas Hardy Journal (February 1991)
'a well-chosen selection ... this volume offers a number of helpful bridge passages of biographical summary and commentary together with explanatory notes that are nicely succinct ... As characteristic expressions of a major literary figure they are essential for all libraries.'
E.F. Harden, Simon Fraser University, Choice, Dec '90
`Michael Millgate's edition of Selected Letters is especially welcome and very useful. This neat volume gathers more than three hundred letters from the seven-volume Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy ... Each letter has admirable footnoting to explain puzzling references, and the whole is a model of ease of use and attractiveness ... the letters are invalulable in their own way, and Millgate's selection will not be
superseded for quite some time.'
Notes and Queries
'Selected Letters is an admirable feat of compression, distilling from the seven-volume Collected Letters of over 2000 pages a representative selection spanning a long life, which will be useful to the scholar and appealing to Hardy enthusiasts. Professor Millgate has almost unerringly selected the 'best' letters - best written, or most revealing ... For those who may share Hardy's reservation the Selected Letters provide a happy and
dependable alternative to the seven-volume strata from which they have been so knowledgeably and skilfully quarried.'
Michael Thorpe, Mount Allison University, English Studies, Volume 73, Number 3, June 1992
Introduction; List of letters; Chronology; The Letters (with annotation); Index