With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury. 'Under the Greenwood Tree' is Hardy's most bright, confident and optimistic novel. This delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony, established Hardy as a writer. However, the novel is not merely a charming rural idyll. The double-plot, in which the love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day is inter-related with a tragic chapter in the history of Mellstock Choir, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life. AUTHOR: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) had a writing career which spanned more than fifty years, and he is now considered both a major novelist and poet. His tales of Wessex, a fictional amalgamation of various south-west counties, have a lasting appeal, and many, such as 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' and 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' have become popular television adaptations.