Giving such reality to a tale

Dear Sirs,

I enclose for your inspection a Sketch of the supposed scene in which the ‘Return of the Native’ is laid – copied from the one I used in writing the story – & my suggestion is that we place an engraving of it as frontispiece to the first volume. Unity of place is so seldom preserved in novels that a map of the scene of action is as a rule impracticable; but since the present story affords an opportunity of doing so I am of opinion that it would be a desirable novelty, likely to increase a reader’s interest. I may add that a critic once remarked to me that nothing could give such reality to a tale as a map of this sort: & I myself have often felt the same thing.

The expense of the engraving would not, I imagine, be very great. In the drawing for the book it would be desirable to shade the hills more fully than I have done in the sketch.

Hoping that you will be disposed to give the suggestion a trial, I am, Dear Sirs

Yours faithfully

Thomas Hardy

p440-441, Appendix B, Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy, Penguin Classics, ISBN 0-14-043518-2

Andrew Ray on Egdon Heath and The Return of the Native in his ‘art and landscape’ blog Some Landscapes.

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