The Hand of Ethelberta

The Hand of Ethelberta

Introduction by: Tim Dolin
Notes by: Tim Dolin

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140435023
  • 512 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Adventuress and opportunist, Ethelberta reinvents herself to disguise her humble origins, launching a brilliant career as a society poet in London with her family acting incognito as her servants. Turning the male-dominated literary world to her advantage, she happily exploits the attentions of four very different suitors. Will she bestow her hand upon the richest of them, or on the man she loves? Ethelberta Petherwin, alias Berta Chickerel, moves with easy grace between her multiple identities, cleverly managing a tissue of lies to aid her meteoric rise. In The Hand of Ethelberta, Hardy drew on conventions of popular romances, illustrated weeklies, plays, fashion plates and even his wife’s diary in this comic story of a woman in control of her destiny.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


The Hand of Ethelberta is … a portrait of two artists – Ethelberta Petherwin and Thomas Hardy …”
—Tim Dolin
PRH Book Clubs Survey