Letter from Arthur Hopkins to Thomas Hardy, 19 February 1878

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22 St. Ann's Villas

Notting Hill

My dear Sir

Thank you for your letter and kind offer to help me with sketches. I will endeavour to improve on Eustacia next time she makes her appearance.

I quite agree with you about the necessity ^desirability^ of the artist & author being in constant communication – or, still better, personal intercourse.

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The thing might be well & thoroughly done then, which is not the case in practice.

The novel of the day is, practically, not illustrated but embellished with a dozen drawings having some sort of connection with the story.

However, I do not suppose that I shall improve all this; under the circumstances it is inevitable:

But I do hope in the case of [Page 3] the 'Return of the Native' to supply some drawings of a strength and character in keeping with the strength and character of the story.

Although I believe that nobody but the author himself could really illustrate a story (since no two people ever picture a described scene alike) still I think that some drawings certainly form an additional attraction to the public; and I can remember several cases where the story was much more vividly [Page 4] imprinted in my mind & fancy, and stamped in my memory, by its illustrations.

I am now at work on the May drawing. I have chosen the incident in the Party Scene where Grandfer Cantle asks to be looked over with the view of finding an improvement in his personal appearance.

I avoided introducing Eustacia as in consequence of her disguise I believed it would be unwise.

But there is room on one side [Page 5] to introduce a Mummer or two among the group. The Mumming Costume you sketched I presume was Eustacia's. Would not some of the less important of them have a less complete costume. I thought one might have no more than his best smock adorned with many ribbons, a plume & a sword.

But I will wait to finish the drawing till I hear from you.

This picture introduces Clym conspicuously, – I can only hope you will like him.

Believe me

Yours very truly

Arthur Hopkins
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