The text of this edition is based on the Wessex Edition of 1912, which was revised and corrected by the author.
It has been collated with the Mellstock Edition of 1920, for which Hardy submitted final corrections.
"Backgrounds and Contexts" provides new and invaluable source material on Victorian Dorset and, in particular, Dorchester, Hardy’s native home and the town upon which Casterbridge
is based. Included are six of Hardy’s nonfiction writings, notably excerpts from his essay "The Dorsetshire Laboure" (1883), in which he frankly comments on the social changes he has witnessed in the county. Hardy’s Wessex is further examined in an essay by Michael Millgate, by maps of Casterbridge and Wessex, and by a key to local place names. Christine Winfield discusses the novel’s manuscript and its complicated history.
"Criticism" collects seventeen wide-ranging assessments of the novel--six new to the Second Edition--from both contemporary and modern critics, including Virginia Woolf, Albert J. Guerard, Julian Moynahan, John Paterson, Michael Millgate, Irving Howe, J. Hillis Miller, Ian Gregor, Elaine Showalter, George Levine, William Greenslade, H. M. Daleski, and Suzanne Keen.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.