The following letter from Hardy to Bertram Windle has been transcribed by Birgit Plietzsch
from CL, vol 2, pp 131-133
 
[Please note: Hardy's own italicisations are inconsistent and in some cases idiosyncratic ("Turberville"), but they have been retained here. Italicisations of book titles omitted by Hardy have been added by MAPS Director. See also our GENERAL CAUTION about e-texts]

  Hôtel de la Poste, | 28 Fossé Aux Loups | Brussels. | Sept. 28.1896  

Dear Sir:
    Owing to my absence from England your letter has only now reached me.
    I will with pleasure give you any information that you require as to the real names of places described in my Wessex novels. Such information in the Handbook will perhaps relieve me of the many letters I receive on the subject, & perhaps serve to correct the erroneous identifications of places by journalists & others. I shall be in England again ( Max Gate, Dorchester) some time in October, & will then answer any questions.

  Yours faithfully
Thomas Hardy.

On second thoughts I send a few rudimentary notes, that you may not be put to unnecessary trouble before my return.    T.H.

  (For private reference only = not to be printed in this form.)
 

  (The Wessex Novels.)

Dorset = "South Wessex":

Somerset = "Outer", or "Nether Wessex":
Devon = "Lower Wessex":
Wilts = "Mid-Wessex":
Berks = "North Wessex":
  Dorchester.
"Casterbridge" scene of "Mayor of C.", and of chapters in nearly all novels. "Durnover moor" and "fields" are the Fordington moor & fields round D. Wolverton House, near Dorchester is the scene of the traditional story of "The Lady Penelope" in "a Group of Noble Dames".
  Weymouth.
"Budmouth Regis" = scene of "Trumpet Major" & portions of other novels; "Overcombe" being the village of Sutton Poyntz (near W.)

Bincombe Down (near W.) is the scene of the military execution in "A Melancholy Hussar" a true story, the names of the deserters from the German Legion, shot in 1801, being still to be read in the register of the parish. They were shot where the roads cross.
 
  Puddletown
is "Weatherbury" = the scene of "Far from the Madding Crowd", "Greenhill Fair" being "Woodbury Hill Fair", a noted annual gathering, a few miles off, near Bere Regis.
 
  Piddlehinton, & P.trenthide.
The "Longpuddle" of "A Few Crusted Characters"
 
  Bournemouth
The "Sandbourne" of "Hand of Ethelberta," "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," etc.
 
  Swanage.
The "Knollsea" of "H. of Ethelberta"
 
  Corfe Castle
The "Corvsgate-Castle" of ditto (new edn)

 

{  Puddletown Heath 
Moreton Heath 
Tincleton Heath 
Bere-Heath – etc. etc.
are "Egdon Heath" – The heaths reaching, under the above, & other names, from near Dorchester, to Bournemouth: (Scene of "Return of the Native", etc.)
 
  Bridport
"Port Bredy" in "Mayor of C." & "Fellow Townsmen" (Wessex Tales)
 
  Weyhill, Hants
The "Weydon Priors" of "Mayor of C."
 
  Minterne
Little Hintock" is a hamlet near (in "The Woodlanders")
 
  Sherborne
The "Sherton-Abbas" of "The Woodlanders", "Tess", & other stories. "Lady Baxby" in "A Group of Noble Dames" a traditional tale, mostly fact, has Sherborne Castle for its scene.
 
  Salisbury.
Melchester – scene of "On the Western Circuit" in "Life's Little Ironies"; & of incidents in several other novels: e.g. the marriage of Sue in "Jude the Obscure".
 
  Stonehenge
Scene of Tess's midnight rest when flying from "Sandbourne" & of her apprehension.

 

Lulworth Cove.  & the village of Ower Moigne.   } Dorset.
"Lulstead Cove" & Nether Moynton" – scenes of the smuggling story in "Wessex Tales," founded on facts still traditional in the neighbourhood.
  Poole
"Havenpool" – scene of "To please his Wife", in "Life's Little Ironies".
 
  Melbury House, (nr Evershott)
"Great Hintock Court" – scene of "The First Countess of Wessex", in "A Group of Noble Dames."
 
  Shaftesbury
The "Shaston" of "Tess of the D."
 
  Marnhull (V. of Blackmoor.)
The "Marlott" of "Tess of the D."
 
  Cranbourne Chase
"The Chase" – scene of Tess's seduction.
 
  River Frome. (Valley of the)
Scene of "Talbothays dairy" in "Tess".
 
  Bere Regis
The King's-Bere" of "Tess". The monuments described in the novel being those of the Turberville family, the place being their ancient seat as in "Tess of the D." (vide Hutchin's Dorset.)
 
  Woolbridge old Manor House
close to Wool station.
Another seat of the Turberville's and the scene of Tess's confession in "Tess of the D."
 
  Bindon Abbey (close by)
The spot to which Clare carried Tess.
 
  Winchester
"Wintoncester" – spot of Tess's execution.
 
  Wimborne
The "Warborne" of "Two on a Tower".
 
  Charborough House
The "Welland House" of "T. on a T."
 
  Dunster Castle. Somerset
The "Castle De Stancy" of "A Laodicean".
 
  Shaftesbury (vide ante)
The "Shaston" in which Phillotson renounces Sue in "Jude the Obscure".
 
  Portland (Dorset.)
The scene of "The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved"
 
  Wantage (Berks.)
The "Alfredston", of Jude the Obscure.
 
  Fawley (Berks.)
The "Marygreen" of Jude the Obscure.

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