Any short story can be read as one installment in a much larger work." — Hughes and Lund, The Victorian Serial [1991], 236.

The "larger work" in the case of the short fiction of Thomas Hardy would be "The Wessex Novels," many of his serially published short stories having been subsequently in three volumes, Wessex Tales (2 vols., Macmillan, 1888), Life's Little Ironies (Osgood, McIlvaine, 1894), and A Changed Man and Other Tales (Macmillan, 1913). Not all of Hardy's serially-published stories were illustrated since some late Victorian periodicals such as Macmillan's Magazine were still not running illustrations with their fiction. Although he began writing such abbreviated tales in 1865 ("How I Built My House" in the March issue of Chamber's Journal), not until the appearance of the novella The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid in the summer number of the Graphic in 1883 was a piece of Hardy's short fiction actually published initially with illustration. Sadly, although they afford ample opportunity for such artistic complement, none of the stories collected in Wessex Tales and only one of the stories in the framed-tale A Group of Noble Dames was illustrated because such cheap periodicals as the Bolton Weekly Journal ("A Mere Interlude," 1885), the Manchester Weekly Times ("Alicia's Diary," 1887), and the renowned Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine ("The Withered Arm," 1888) did not provide such agreeable but costly accompaniments. Only at the close of the 1880s with the publication of the first of what would become A Group of Noble Dames did Hardy's short stories start to acquire appropriate illustration, the "A Tryst at an Ancient Earthwork," first published in England in the English Illustrated Magazine (December 1893) having been treated as if it were a non-fiction account by receiving four grainy photographic accompaniments provided by the professional photographer W. Pouncy of Dorchester — in his correspondence with the American and British periodical editors Hardy referred to the piece ambiguously as an "article." Thus, of Hardy's forty-four short stories (of which only thirty-seven were collected, according to Martin Ray in Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories, 1997), a much smaller number should be considered "illustrated fiction": using the principles of initial illustrated periodical publication in Great Britain, and of each segment of a group of framed tales such as Wessex Folk being a separate story (and specifically excluding the novella The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid), one arrives at a figure of twenty-one. However, proof of Hardy's having been actively involved in the composition or development of any of these illustrations, with the exception of those for "The First Countess of Wessex" is negligible. A total of fourteen artists, many of them leaders of fin-de-siecle illustration, provided periodicals such as Harper's New Monthly Magazine with a total of some fifty-seven illustrations for twenty-one stories, some as woodcuts and others as lithographs. These illustrators in chronological order of the appearance of their work in British or Anglo-British periodicals are as follows:

"The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" by Charles Stanley Reinhart (25 June 1883)

"A Tragedy of Two Ambitions" by George Lambert (December 1888)

"The First Countess of Wessex" by Parsons and Reinhart (December 1889)

Illustrations for "The Son's Veto" by Alfred Forestier

Illustrations of two works by William Hatherell

"An Imaginative Woman" by Arthur J. Goodman (April 1894)

Wessex Folk by Alfred Parsons and Charles Green (March-June 1891)

"To Please His Wife" by W. Hennessey (27 June 1891)

"On the Western Circuit" by Wal Paget (December 1891)

"Master John Horseleigh, Knight" by W. B. Wollen (12 June 1893)

"A Committeeman of 'The Terror'" by H. Burgess (22 November 1896)

"The Grave by the Hand-post" by George M. Patterson (30 November 1897)

"A Changed Man" by A. S. Hartrick (21 and 28 April 1900)

"A Mere Interlude" by Gordon Browne in A London Magazine (May 1903)

Last updated 11 February 2017