The Return of the Native

Author: Thomas Hardy  | Date: 1878


THE date at which the following events are assumed to have occurred may be set down as between 1840 and 1850, when the old watering-place herein called ’Budmouth’ still retained sufficient afterglow from its Georgian gaiety and prestige to lend it an absorbing attractiveness to the romantic and imaginative soul of a lovely dweller inland.

Under the general name of ’Egdon Heath’, which has been given to the sombre scene of the story, are united or typified heaths of various real names, to the number of at least a dozen; these being virtually one in character and aspect, though their original unity, or partial unity, is now somewhat disguised by intrusive strips and slices brought under the plough with varying degrees of success, or planted to woodland.

It is pleasant to dream that some spot in the extensive tract whose south-western quarter is here described, may be the heath of that traditionary King of Wessex- Lear.

July 1895


To prevent disappointment to searchers for scenery it should be added that though the action of the narrative is supposed to proceed in the central and most secluded part of the heaths united into one whole, as above described, certain topographical features resembling those delineated really lie on the margin of the waste, several miles to the westward of the centre. In some other respects also there has been a bringing together of scattered characteristics.

The first edition of this novel was published in three volumes in 1878.

April 1912 T. H.


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Chicago: Thomas Hardy, "Author’s Preface," The Return of the Native Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: Hardy, Thomas. "Author’s Preface." The Return of the Native, Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Hardy, T, 'Author’s Preface' in The Return of the Native. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from