Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbevilles, and meeting her “cousin” Alec proves to be her downfall. When Angel Clare offers her love and salvation, she must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.
By the time Tess of the d’Urbervilles was published in 1891, Thomas Hardy was well established as a popular novelist with 12 novels and a book of short stories to his credit. This book is considered by many to be his finest work, yet it was his first to be met with critical outrage, due largely to the controversial subject matter. In fact, when his next book, Jude the Obscure, was also assailed as inflammatory, Hardy became so disillusioned that he retired from novel writing, and spent the last 30 years of his life writing poetry.