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The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy - LSC Kingwood


1840 - 1928


Hardy's Wessex/Courtesy Robert SeitzHardy's Wessex/Courtesy Robert Seitz

"The Mayor of Casterbridge features a dominant protagonist, complex human relationships, and an elaborate plot worked out against a background of social and economic changes taking place in the English countryside at a critical historical juncture...the mid to late nineteenth century, when mechanized agriculture methods were introduced."                                                          "Thomas Hardy." Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. v.32.  


The book was first published in weekly installments from Jan. 2 to May 15, 1886. 


Hardy Cottage/Courtesy Robert Seitz                                              Hardy Cottage/Courtesy Robert Seitz

"About three miles east of Dorchester, in Dorset, England, there is a hamlet known as Higher Bockhampton. In a thatched roof cottage which still stands at one end of this hamlet, Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. The place of his birth is important, for it is the center of a region he called 'Wessex' and wrote about in all his books."

 "Thomas Hardy." Cyclopedia of World Authors.Vol. 2. ed. Frank Magill.

PN 41 .D5 Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 18  Details of Hardy's life and how it impacted his literature.  V. 18 particularly focuses on Hardy as a Victorian novelist. This information is also available in Literature Resource Center.


Victorian England was the most powerful nation on earth. Her territories stretched around the world, and her navy ruled the seas. Raw materials furnished by the colonies fueled the factories of the Industrial Revolution. The thriving economy gave rise to a wealthy middle class that rivaled the old aristocracy in money and power. However, the Industrial Revolution also spawned great poverty, The working conditions in the factories were deplorable. Child labor was rampant. The slums of London bred crime and disease. Only men of property had the vote so the poor were excluded from the political system. Women had few rights and about their only option in life was marriage.

Other historical sources: 

PN164.A85 The Atlas of Literature - A short, pictorial study of Hardy and his fictional Wessex. Dorchester is Casterbridge.
 Librarian Talk . . .  About Books!
  • Books offer helpful information about time periods, authors and the literary works. Use them to help begin your review of literature on The Mayor of Casterbridge .
  • Apply online for a library card. Use your card to 1) Place a Hold on a book and have it sent to the library closest to you; 2) Access journal and reference databases from home; and
    3) Access Online Book Database (eBook Collection).
  • The catalog is online.
  • Online books(database paid for by our libraries) are available at eBook Collection. Use your library card to log in. Create a free account to save favorite titles or your own notes on the books you read.
More about...Finding Books (31 sec.)

To find resources on  The Mayor of Casterbridge, consult the Library Catalog. Type in "Hardy, Thomas" in the Subject box. Or try to find the Norton Critical Edition by typing in the Title box, "Norton Critical Edition Mayor of Casterbridge". The section of books on Thomas Hardy and The Mayor of Casterbridge is PR 4750, so you may wish to browse in the stacks in that general area. 

Themes to consider: Character of Henchard, Role of Economics, Revenge, Tragic Hero, Social Respectability, Wessex.
Selected Reference Books
PR85.B688  British Writers   - A critical look at Hardy's work as a whole. The Mayor of Casterbridge is considered one of the the five greater novels by Hardy. Includes a bibliography for further research.

PN3385 .N68 Novels for Students - v. 15 provides an overview of the novel, characters, settings, sample critique and suggestions on what to read next. Also available in the Gale Virtual Reference Library database.

PR106.S7 Reference Guide to English Literature  v.3  - This critical essay includes an excellent list of critical studies of Hardy's work, a biographical sketch and an in depth treatment of the Mayor of Casterbridge.

PN771.G27 Twentieth Century Literary Criticism  v. 32 has the most information on the Mayor of Casterbridge. Excerpts from a large number of critical works. Excellent bibliography at end.  A good place to get ideas for a thesis.

Also check at the Circulation Desk in the library for books which your instructor may have placed on reserve.


Librarian Talk about Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!

Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. Use them to find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more. Home access to article databases is available with your updated library card barcode.

If you need assistance finding an article email the Reference Librarians and they will help you get the article. Send full bibliographic information and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if necessary.

Use your library card to login to these online journal databases.

More about searching databases (25 sec.)

Project Muse   This database contains scholarly, full-text articles from journals in man subject areas. Use the Advanced Search page for the most effective searches. Enter the title and author's names in separate keyword boxes and add rows to enter words from your thesis. Limit your search to Articles only (No Reviews) and select Literature from the disciplines box to focus your search results.
JSTOR  This large database is also scholarly and full text and covers many subject areas. Use the Advanced search page and search as you did with ProjectMuse entering keywords in separate search boxes. Limit to Articles and choose Language and Literature from the disciplines list to focus your search results.
Academic Search Complete  A large multi-discipline database with many full text articles. Choose the Advanced Search page, select full text for complete articles and choose Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) to retrieve scholarly journal articles.

Literature Resource Center Find articles, work overviews, and critical essays from this electronic database from Gale.

Librarian Talk about the Internet!

The internet can be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Look at:

  • Accuracy - The information should be researched and show proof of that research.
  • Source - Look at the domain:  .edu   .gov   .org  .net are valid research sources.
  • Authority - What are the author's credentials? (Don't quote from another college freshman's paper.)
  • Coverage - Does the page have the information you need for your research?
  • Objectivity - If a work is biased, use it - just make sure your professor knows YOU know. Offer both sides of issues, where applicable.
    More about finding internet sources (25 sec.)

  • Thomas Hardy Association - Scholarly and interesting site from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, with maps, discussion groups and criticism.
  • Thomas Hardy Country - A photographic tour by Robert Seitz.
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge - eBook and biographical information about the author.
  • Online Literature: Mayor of Casterbridge - The etext and summaries from the Literature Network.


    PR4750.M3 2002 Mayor of Casterbridge   [DVD]  Volumes 1,2,3
             On a drunken impulse, Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter at a country fair, an outrageous act for which he suffers an agonizing remorse. Years later, when he has become a respected and prosperous man, his wife and daughter seek him out in Casterbridge. He attempts to right the long-ago wrong and sets in motion a series of events that spell his destruction. Source: Lone Star College System catalog.

    PR4750.M47 Mayor of Casterbridge   [Sound Recording] 10 sound discs (13 hr., 14 min.)

    eBook from Project Gutenberg - Read online or download in a variety of formats; includes a guide on using  formats for mobile phones. Also has audio versions for download.

    "British Imperialization" and "British Victorian Life" - watch these short segments of a longer film, The Nationalists, for an overview of life in Victorian England. From Films on Demand. (Note: A Lone Star College ID or library card barcode number is required for off-campus access.)


    Librarian Talk about getting help!

    Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor.

    More about getting help (25 sec.)

    Citing Sources Using the Library MLA Style Guide | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.

    Avoiding Plagiarism   |   Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.

    University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.

    Learning Center |  Offers tutoring services for Lone Star College-Kingwood students in most subjects as well as other services.

    Written by Claire Gunnels;  Links checked  6/2012 KV

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