London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1878. Three volumes, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: , 303, ; , 297, ; , 320. Original brown cloth stamped in black and blind, spines decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt and black; cream-coated endpapers. Frontispiece map, after a drawing by Hardy, facing title page in Volume I; two pages of publisher’s advertisements at end of Volume II. Red morocco-gilt bookplates of collector Hannah D. Rabinowitz in each volume; bookseller label of Philip C. Duchnes in Volume I. Lightest shelfwear, spotting to edges and endpapers. Housed in a custom silk-lined box by Riviere & Son.
First edition of Thomas Hardy’s sixth novel, one of 1000 copies. Set amid the wild landscape of Egdon Heath, the tension between two unhappy couples, pulled together and then apart, produces the mounting sense of dread so characteristic of Hardy’s later fiction: “To be conscious that the end of the dream is approaching, and yet has not absolutely come, is one of the most wearisome as well as the most curious situations along the whole course between the beginning of a passion and its end.” First issue, with the closing quotation mark around ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’ dropped on the title page of Volume I. Purdy, 24-27. A near-fine copy.