Under the Greenwood Tree was written by Thomas Hardy, an important Victorian novelist and poet. It was the second novel he wrote, and was originally published anonymously in 1872. It is one of a group of Hardy's novels about the fictional county of Wessex. It tells the story of the church choir and the new vicar, touching on typical themes for Hardy of rural versus town life and how social class affects romantic aspirations.
Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton in Dorset, England. His father was a mason, but his mother had a great love of reading, and helped educate him. He trained as an architect and moved to London, combining a career in architecture with writing until he was eventually able to support himself solely by his writing. Although he was interested in the work of such thinkers as John Stuart Mill, he felt out of place in the sophisticated environment of London and among people of higher social class, and returned to live in his native Dorset, which provided the inspiration for most of his literary works.
He eventually died in 1927 after having produced a substantial corpus of 14 novels and several volumes of poetry, short stories, and other miscellaneous works.