Thomas Hardy's "Tony Kytes, The Arch-Deceiver" (text) from A Few Crusted Characters (originally, Wessex Folk, in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (American and European editions), March, 1891; later published in the volume Life's Little Ironies (1912). It appears in the Gr. 10-12 Windmill text Nineteenth-Century Short Stories with a biographical note on Hardy.


As Wessex Folk, Harper's New Monthly Magazine (American and European editions), March-June 1891, with headpiece of Dorchester High Street by Alfred Parsons and seven illustrations by Charles Green. The instalments were divided thus: March, [Introduction], "Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver"and "The History of the Hardcomes" (pp. 587-99); April, "The Superstitious Man's Story," "Andrey Satchel and the Parson and Clerk"and "Andrew Satchel's Experience as a Musician" (pp. 698-705); May, "Absent-Mindedness in a Parish Choir" and "'The Winters and the Palmleys" (pp. 890-97); June, "Incident in the Life of Mr. George Crookhill" and "Netty Sargent's Copyhold"(pp. 121-7).

Book Publication

Life's Little Ironies. London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1894, pp. 217-301. Published at 6s. in an edition of 2000 copies on 22 February, 1894.

Life's Little Ironies. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1894, pp. 187-268. Published in March, 1894. 1896 Life's Little Ironies (London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1896), pp. 217-301. Volume XIV in the Wessex Novels, the first uniform and complete edition of Hardy's works. Plates of the first edition were used.

Life's Little Ironies. London: Macmillan, 1912, pp. 187-259. Volume VIII of the Wessex edition.

The manuscripts: A manuscript of these sketches, entitled "Wessex Folk," is located in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. Purdy accurately describes it as "a very rough hurried first draft (in places hardly more than notes) of a kind Hardy almost invariably destroyed"(p. 84), and Gatrell notes that it is "the most substantial piece of evidence available to anyone trying to piece together Hardy's preliminary working habits" (1984, p. 11). The manuscript consists of thirty leaves (some of which are cut down to varying sizes), foliated 1-31 by Hardy, although five are missing and four are supplementary leaves. A later fair copy of a manuscript of Wessex Folk may be extant, but its current location has not been discovered. A page of it was reproduced in facsimile in Harper's Monthly Magazine in July, 1925 (p. 241), showing the opening of "Incident in the Life of Mr. George Crookhill."

The Cast of Characters

A. Main Parts

B. Secondary Parts:

The Rhetorical Context

After a lifetime away from Wessex, John Lackland, who left his native village of Upper Longpuddle as a boy with his family for a better life overseas, returns. In the carrier's van on market day, Lackland introduces himself and asks the other passengers what has transpired since he left so many years before. The carrier, the jovial Mr. Burton, elects to begin with the romantic difficulties of Tony Kytes, the young carrier that had driven the Lackland family to the city of Casterbridge [Dorchester].

Last modified 22 October 2006