Letter from Katharine Macquoid to Thomas Hardy, 18 November 1874

[Page 1]

Stanley Place

Chelsea Str.

My dear Sir

Thank you very much for your kind & patient answer to my letters – it was a relief – for after I sent it (I observe you say a woman always feels this - the remark is in Desperate Remedies wh: we have been reading since I wrote) I felt sorry – it seemed rather presumptuous in me to find fault with you -

I began to write only meaning to send our thanks – not [Page 2] criticism & then this idea wh: I confess had been some time latent got into words.

I feel now too late that it was ungrateful to find fault with Bathsheba who must have cost you infinite time & labour to create – She is almost always true to herself but then her nature is such that of a true woman – because she is centred on self.

You have not understood me – I quite agree that the ordinary type of woman shd not be idealised into a book heroine -

I have not time now to discuss what you say of [the] women of real life – but I fancy we are not agreed thereon -

But your letter shows that you hold as we do that the novelist's kingdom is something much greater than the "public" need^idea of it^ & therefore I feel courage to speak without fear of ridicule –

I have tried to paint a good woman [Page 3] & I know I have failed – but when I think of Cordelia I know it can be done – Dorothea Brooke & Dinah Morris are not what I mean – they are too superhuman – Dorothea is a pure faultless pagan – & Dinah is too much of a female Priest – Mrs Gaskell's Molly comes nearer to poor humanity, but I fancy a dash of sauciness or even of naughtiness would much improve Molly - for I think true art never outsteps nature –

Last night just as your letter came – my [gap]^h^usband read aloud a sentence from November "Farfromthe &c" (I believe he dotes on that book-) "the soul is the slave of the body" – now I believe here [lies] the germ of my dissatisfaction with your [Page 4] heroines – If men like to believe this axiom as regards themselves – they may but I am sure it is false as regards women – that is women who recognise duty as a principle & Bathsheba does this– I do not want a heroine to be very clever – but I want her to have a soul wh: is not entirely governed by her body - novel-writers seem to think "a deal" more of the last than of the [first] yet ^and doubtless^ a heroine must have beauty – Even in life a woman seems to miss her vocation who has not some special charm & is rarely less vain if she have it not- but she need not think only about men – if she loves – then she cannot love too well – but she will love just as intensely – just as ardently- if she is simple & pure-minded & [Page 5] noble natured – as if she is only made of flesh & blood – with a soul governed by her body -

This is no answer to your letter – I cannot write an answer without getting into Chapters – do not be alarmed at the length of this letter – I ^very^ rarely write one – I have not time – only just now I am laid up & unable to do work writing-

But I should like to talk this out with you – our admiration for your writing is so great that we shall much like to make your acquaintance – We live within five minutes walk of Chelsea Station [Page 6] on S. Westernline & are easily reached from Surbiton - We are always at home on Sunday as well as on Tuesday after three oclk - & shall be heartily glad to see you if you will take the trouble to come –

I ought to tell you that I like Gabriel Oak – except for one thing – almost better than any man I know in a novel – better than Adam BedeGabriel has the special qualities I love – I began to like Mr Knight – but he is a brute [Page 7] to that poor little girl – she is full of falsehood & folly but then she loved him –

I am

yours truly

Katharine S Macquoid

My husband wishes much to know in what county Bathsheba's farm is.