Tess of the d'Urbervilles was Thomas Hardy's penultimate novel, published in 1891 when he was fifty-one years old (Jude the Obscure, his final novel, appeared four years later). After Jude, Hardy returned to his original love, poetry, producing eight volumes of verse during the last thirty years of his life. In his two-volume autobiography (credited to his second wife, Florence Emily Hardy, but written predominantly by Hardy himself), he claimed to have taken up the writing of novels "under the stress of necessity," and to have "long intended to abandon [it]...
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