Hardy described "Desperate Remedies" as a tale of 'mystery, entanglement, surprise and moral obliquity'. Cytherea has taken a position as lady's maid to the eccentric arch-intriguer Miss Aldclyffe. On discovering that the man she loves, Edward Springrove, is already engaged to his cousin, Cytherea comes under the influence of Miss Aldclyffe's fascinating, manipulative steward Manston. Blackmail, murder and romance are among the ingredients of Hardy's first published novel, and in it he draws blithely on the 'sensation novel' perfected by Wilkie Collins. Several perceptive critics praised the author as a novelist with a future when Desperate Remedies appeared anonymously in 1871. In its depiction of country life and insight into psychology and sexuality, it already bears the unmistakable imprint of Hardy's genius.
THOMAS HARDY (1840-1928) was recognized, and even revered, as the major literary figure of his time by his contemporaries. Most of his major novels are available in Penguin Classics. MARY RIMMER is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. She has written extensively on Hardy, and is currently writing a book on narrative voice in Hardy.