Comprising preliminaries and thirty-three gatherings representing three separate stages of proof within a single sequence of pages, as follows: i) gatherings 2D-2K: first proofs with substantial revisions by Hardy alone and without any annotations by the printer's reader, the revisions ranging from corrections of typographical errors to additions of entire phrases, the first leaf of each gathering marked "press" at the head ii) gatherings F, H, I, M, P-S and X-2C: first proofs quite heavily revised by Hardy and subsequently annotated by the printer's reader with punctuation and spacing changes, the first leaf of each gathering marked "press" at the head and "Last" in the lower margin followed by the reader's initials "G.F.S." iii) preliminaries and gatherings A-E, G, K, L, N, O, T and U: second proofs, with occasional minor revisions by Hardy (probably following more substantial revisions that would have been made on the first proofs) and some annotations by the printer's reader, the first leaf of each gathering marked "press" at the head and "Last" in the lower margin followed by the reader's initials "G.F.S." the first leaf of every gathering stamped at the head by the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh with date supplied in ink (from "2.9.95" to "30.9.95"), first leaf of nineteen gatherings also stamped with date of receipt (from 4 to 30 September 1895), some leaves marked in pencil (presumably by the compositor), 263 leaves in all, with additional leaf containing an autograph insertion by Hardy, 8vo, 1895, dust- and inkstaining throughout, portion of H8 torn away and attached by paperclip, a few marginal rust-marks, edges of some leaves slightly frayed, creasing throughout, all consistent with printing-house use\nOne of the most important text-related thomas hardy items ever offered at auction and, after the original manuscript, the most significant textual source for 'jude the obscure' ("a tragedy of very unconventional lives").\nBefore the publication of Jude in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (December 1894 to November 1895), Hardy was obliged to bowdlerise the text, to the extent of excising pivotal passages and reducing the novel to "a tale that could not offend the most fastidious maiden". The original manuscript of the novel, held at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, bears witness to these substantial alterations and deletions, which according to a note by Hardy on the first page were "for serial publication only".\nAfter the novel's serialisation, Hardy restored the text to its original form for its publication as the eighth volume in Osgood, McIlvaine & Co.'s Wessex Novels series. On 12 August 1895 he wrote to Florence Henniker: "...I am restoring the MS. of the Harper story [Jude] to its original state. Fortunately I wrote the alterations & abridgments in blue ink - which makes it easy to recover the first form. Curiously enough I am more interested in this Sue story than in any I have written...". The present proofs, produced after Hardy had restored the original text are those of the first book edition, and reveal hardy's last-minute crucial revisions to the text as well as his continuing preoccupation with the major aspects of the novel. There are numerous instances where the revision of a single word affects the entire tenor of the text, the most noteworthy alterations affecting those themes which caused the strongest reaction among Hardy's readers, most notably marriage and religion (see Gatrell, pp.157-164 for a detailed discussion).\nThe different stages of proof outlined above would suggest that Hardy received a few gatherings at a time during the second half of September 1895, and that revises were pulled at various times as the corrected proofs were sent back by Hardy. It is possible that Hardy did not see these revises (see Gatrell, pp.254-5), perhaps because he and the printing-house were also occupied at this time with proofs of other volumes in Osgood's collected edition. It may be that this proof-reading experience led him to comment a few weeks later: "...It is impossible to trust a printer's reader, even if no changes whatever are made; the subtler misprints escaping him..." (letter to Sir George Douglas, 30 October 1895).\nThe sexual boldness of the restored text and its controversial depiction of marriage attracted a great deal of hostility from reviewers, one of whom famously retitled the novel "Jude the Obscene". Hardy remained "indifferent": "...The tragedy is really addressed to those into whose souls the iron of adversity has deeply entered at some time of their lives, & can hardly be congenial to self-indulgent persons of ease & affluence. Indeed, there is something bizarre in the tragedy of 'Jude' coming out as the last fashionable novel. But one cannot choose one's readers..." (letter by Hardy to Florence Henniker, 10 November 1895).\nthese proofs mark hardy's last efforts not only to reverse the effects of bowdlerisation but even to improve on his original text.\nWe are grateful to Michael Millgate for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.