Includes the author's note and prefaces to the first, fifth and later editions. Tess Durbeyfield is the daughter of humble farm folk. When her father discovers that they have aristocratic relatives, they send Tess, much against her will, to seek assistance. This vain errand throws Tess in the path of the ruthless and unscrupulous Alec d'Urberville, who seduces her. Tess returns home, and gives birth to a child which dies in infancy. Tess is now marked and leaves home to find work as a dairymaid. She is courted by Angel Clare, a gentleman and a clergyman's son. They marry, but when Tess confesses her past, Clare leaves. Tess tries to support herself and remain loyal to her absent husband, but when her father dies and her family is dispossessed, Tess in despair accepts Alec d'Uberville's terms and his offers of aid. Then, too late, Clare returns, ready to embrace Tess. When Clare finds her, Tess, in her wild despair, murders the worthless d'Urberville who has dogged her steps. She has a few happy, fugitive days with Clare, but is then hanged as a murderess.