The Graphic (Summer) 25 June 1883, 19.by Charles S. Reinhart. 7 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches (18.5 cm high by 23.5 cm wide). Chapter Two of Thomas Hardy's "Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" in
Passage Illustrated: Margery encounters the Baron
A fine-framed dark-mustachioed gentleman, in dressing-gown and slippers, was sitting there in the damp without a hat on. With one hand he was tightly grasping his forehead, the other hung over his knee. The attitude bespoke with sufficient clearness a mental condition of anguish. He was quite a different being from any of the men to whom her eyes were accustomed. She had never seen mustachios before, for they were not worn by civilians in Lower Wessex at this date. His hands and his face were white — to her view deadly white — and he heeded nothing outside his own existence. There he remained as motionless as the bushes around him; indeed, he scarcely seemed to breathe.
Having imprudently advanced thus far, Margery’s wish was to get back again in the same unseen manner; but in moving her foot for the purpose it grated on the gravel. He started up with an air of bewilderment, and slipped something into the pocket of his dressing-gown. She was almost certain that it was a pistol. The pair stood looking blankly at each other. [Chapter II, The Graphic, 4]
Illustrated Novella or a Serial Short Story with Illustrations?
Although "The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" was Thomas Hardy's first piece of illustrated fiction, readers in the United States and Great Britain experienced it and its illustrations very differently. In Harper's Weekly Magazine readers experienced it as a serial, in seven instalments from 23 June to 4 August 1883, accompanied by three of C. S. Reinhart's full-page composite woodblock engravings from the London Graphic. However, British readers did not experience the story of Margery and the Baron as a serial; rather, they could have read it in a single sitting, although at 27,000 words (roughly the length of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1886) this Hardy novella lends itself to a multiple-session reading. Two days after the appearance of its first instalment in the United States (June 23) it appeared as a continuous narrative in the special "Summer Number" of Graphic, so that British readers could (and probably did) experience all the Reinhart illustrations at once, and then study them individually as they arrived at the moments realised in the large-format pages of the London weekly magazine whose specialty was first-run, serialised fiction accompanied by large-scale plates. The magazine did, in fact, advertise Hardy's The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid as "a complete novel. Running through the Number" (The Graphic, 23 June 1883, p. 619), possibly because readers would have conceived of Hardy as a novelist; the advertisement underscored this expectation by specifically alluding to three previous, serially-published novels: A Laodicean, Far from the Madding Crowd, and The Return of the Native (1881, 1874, and 1878 respectively). Significantly, in describing the work to the Graphic's editor, Arthur Lockyer, on 13 February 1883 Hardy himself described it as a "story" (Collected Letters I: 115) rather than a "novel." It is, at best, a slight and entertaining short fiction, but as Martin Ray notes it inaugurated an important relationship between a major writer of the period and a major Victorian periodical:
"The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" marks the beginning of Hardy's association with the Graphic, a connection that was to last nine years (ending with Tess), and in that period his only major novel which was not first published there was The Woodlanders. 
Positioning of the Four Plates in The Graphic
The positioning of the four plates in the Graphic, unlike that of the plates in Harper's, creates noanticipatory set for the reader; rather, in each case the reader is compelled to reflect upon incidents that have already transpired. The first plate, on page 19 in the Summer Number of the Graphic, takes us all the way back to Ch. II (4); the second plate, on page 22, takes us back to Ch. IV (8); the third plate takes us back to Ch. IX (13); and the last plate in the series, placed after the story's conclusion in the British magazine, takes us back to Ch. XV (21, middle of column 2). Only once has the magazine printed "(Continued on page . . . )" (bottom of column 3, 16), a break which introduces four pages of illustrations, the last one only (19) being Reinhart's. At the first break (5-8), the Baron has just learned that Margery is planning on going to the yeomanry ball without her father's permission or knowledge; the reader wonders, with the Baron, "How have youarranged it, then?" (5). The reader already knows the details of Margery's plan, but is apprehensive that the Baron will refuse to take her. At the second break (9-12), the reader speculates as to whether Jim will learn that it is the Baron who is responsible for Margery's sudden "craze for fine furniture" (9). At the third break (13-16), Jim has just learned from a musician that Margery attended the yeomanry ball at Lord Blakemore's two months before; his initial reaction is skepticism, but the reader wonders whether he will revise his first response, and how he will react to his fiancée's overnight adventure with the strange, moustachioed, aristocratic foreigner.
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Allingham, Philip V. "The Original Illustrations for Thomas Hardy's The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid." The Thomas Hardy Journal 16, 3 (October, 2000): 45-62.
Hardy, Thomas. "The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid." Illustrated by C. S. Reinhart. The Graphic (Summer) June 25 1883: 23; Harper's Weekly (14 July 1883): 437.
Purdy, Richard Little, and Michael Millgate, eds. Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy, Oxford: Clarendon, 1978-88. Vol. I (1840-92), 1978.
Ray, Martin. Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories. London: Ashgate, 1997.
Created 27 September 2007
Last modified 7 August 2020