The following letter, from Hardy to his publishers, Smith, Elder & Co., has been transcribed by Birgit Plietzsch from CL, vol.1, p61.

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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 one 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 of 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.  

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