logo2.jpg (14230 bytes)

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
1840  - 1928

swirl.gif (728 bytes)



First published in weekly installments from Jan. 2 to May 15, 1886  

 wessex.jpg (7710 bytes)Hardy's Wessex/Courtesy Robert Seitz

"The Mayor of Casterbridge features a dominant protagonist, complex human relationships, and an elaborate plot worked out against a background of social and economic changes taking place in the English countryside at  a critical historical juncture...the mid to late nineteenth century, when mechanized agricultural methods were being introduced."

.Source: [REF PN 771.G27] Kepos, Paula and Dennis Poupard, eds.. "Thomas Hardy." Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Vol. 32. Detroit: Gale, 1989.

To the top

swirl.gif (728 bytes)



Literature Resource Center current library card required for login  Get Card

Find articles, work overviews, and critical essays from this electronic database from Gale.

Library Catalog

To find books on  The Mayor of Casterbridge, consult the LIBRARY CATALOG. Type in Hardy, Thomas in the Subject box. Or try to find the Norton Critical Edition by typing in the title box, Norton Critical Edition Mayor of Casterbridge. Most literature is located in the P section, so you may wish to browse in the stacks in that general area. Remember, most academic libraries will have their literature in the P section.

Selected Reference Books

  • British Writers [REFPR85.B688]. A critical look at Hardy's work as a whole. The Mayor of Casterbridge is considered one of the the five greater novels by Hardy. Includes a bibliography for further research.
  • Reference Guide to English Literature* [REFPR106.S7 1991] This critical essay includes an excellent list of critical studies of Hardy's work, a biographical sketch and an in depth treatment of the Mayor of Casterbridge in volume 3.
  • Twentieth Century Literary Criticism* [REFPN771.G27] Volume 32 has the most information on the Mayor of Casterbridge. Exerpts from a large number of critical works. Excellent bibliography at end.
    Also check at the Circulation Desk in the library for books which your instructor may have placed on reserve.

*also in Literature Resource Center

Journal Articles

MLA Bibliography current library card required for login  Get Card  This is the most important database for your research. Use it to find articles in journals and essays in books. This is not a full text database, but many of the journals will be available at the library. And remember, Interlibrary Loan is always an option.

Themes to consider: Character of Henchard, Role of Economics, Revenge, Tragic Hero, Social Respectability, Wessex.

To the top

swirl.gif (728 bytes)


hardycottage.jpg (9357 bytes)Hardy Cottage/Courtesy Robert Seitz

"About three miles east of Dorchester, in Dorset, England, there is a hamlet known as Higher Bockhampton. In a thatched roof cottage which still stands at one end of this hamlet, Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. The place of his birth is important, for it is the center of a region he called 'Wessex' and wrote about in all his books."

Source: Magill, Frank, ed. "Thomas Hardy." Cyclopedia of World Authors.Vol. 2. Englewood Cliffs: Salem P, 1974. 791.

  • Dictionary of Literary Biography* [REF PN41.D5] Details of Hardy's life and how it impacted his literature.
    *Also in Literature Resource Center

To the top

swirl.gif (728 bytes)



Victorian England was the most powerful nation on earth. Her territories stretched around the world, and her navy ruled the seas. Raw materials furnished by the colonies fueled the factories of the Industrial Revolution. The thriving economy gave rise to a wealthy middle class that rivaled the old aristocracy in money and power. However, the Industrial Revolution also spawned great poverty, The working conditions in the factories were deplorable. Child labor was rampant. The slums of London bred crime and disease. Only men of property had the vote so the poor were excluded from the political system. Women had few rights and about their only option in life was marriage.
by , Reference Librarian

Other historical sources: dorchester.jpg (6867 bytes)

  • The Atlas of Literature [PN164.A85] A short, pictorial study of Hardy and his fictional Wessex. Dorchester is Casterbridge. Above picture of Dorchester is courtesy of Robert Seitz.

To the top

swirl.gif (728 bytes)


  • Discussion Group
    http://www.yale.edu/hardysoc/Welcome/Forum/forum.htm- Join an email listserv to share your ideas with other Hardy fans.
  • Thomas Hardy Association
    http://www.yale.edu/hardysoc/Welcome/welcomet.htm - Scholarly and interesting site from Yale with maps, discussion groups and criticism. Try the links to other web sites. Professor Emeritus Robert Schweik has created an annotated index of over 200 web sites with critical commentary..
  • Thomas Hardy Country
    http://members.aol.com/thardy1001/ - A photographic tour by Robert Seitz.
  • Thomas Hardy Miscellany
    http://www.andover.edu/english/hardymisc/home.html - Online Hardy magazine and extensive photographic coverage from Phillips Academy, Andover.
  • Thomas Hardy's World
    http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/english/hardy/- A scholarly web site which grew from various college level seminars.
        Do your own subject search of the Internet at www.about.com
        Type in "Thomas Hardy"

Assignment Guide: English 1302


Copyright 2000 []
Written by Updated: Jun. 12, 2002