Why Hardy’s second novel wasn’t much better

Taking lessons from the failure of The Poor Man and the Lady, Hardy decided that what he should do was write a novel that would sell. He thought what would sell was a thriller, full of plot twists about surprise inheritances, revelations about who your parents actually were, a clandestine midnight burial, a rape scene (which he removed), some romance, and the ordeals of a “graceful and submissive” heroine. This was his second book: Desperate Remedies. The publisher he sent it to, which had encouraged him to keep writing after they rejected The Poor Man and the Lady, rejected Desperate Remedies. Why? It was too sensational.

So, shortly before his thirtieth birthday, Hardy sent it to a publisher, Tinsley, which had lower standards. Tinsley said he would publish it – if Hardy paid £75 towards the costs, which he would recoup if the novel succeeded, and lose if it failed (Hardy’s life savings after paying this amounted to £50).  And so Desperate Remedies was published. Hardy thought his first novel was better, especially because he had written the second novel to a formula. In general, it got mixed reviews, but Hardy kept writing, and his very next novel would be his first success, Under the Greenwood Tree.

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