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The Hand of Ethelberta

by Thomas Hardy

At the beginning of the book, we are told that Ethelberta was raised in humble circumstances but, through her work as a governess, married well at the age of eighteen. Her husband died two weeks after the wedding and, now twenty-one, Ethelberta lives with her mother-in-law, Lady Petherwin. In the three years that have elapsed since the deaths of both her husband and father-in-law, Ethelberta has been treated to foreign travel and further privilege by her benefactress, but restricted from seeing her poor family. The events of the story concern Ethelberta's career as a famous poetess and storyteller as she struggles to support her family and conceal her secret -- that her father is a butler. Beautiful, clever, and rational, she easily attracts four very persistent suitors (Mr Julian, Mr Neigh, Mr Ladywell, and Lord Mountclere), but is reluctant to give her much-coveted hand.

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Simon Clark lives in Doncaster, South Yorkshire and his stories have been published in Darklands 2, Dark Voices 5 and The Year's Best Horror Stories. His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and he has also written some prose for U2. In his latest horror novel, Vampyrrhic, Clark brought horrific viking warriors from long ago to the shores of England in the form of undead vampires. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about it.
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