1939 edition; illustrated by John Austen; The Heritage Illustrated Bookshelf publishers, New York; hardbound; very good condition with unmarked pages; no dust jacket.
The Vicar of Wakefield – subtitled A Tale, Supposed to be written by Himself – is a novel by Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774). It was written from 1761 to 1762 and published in 1766. It was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians.
The Vicar – Dr. Charles Primrose – lives an idyllic life in a country parish with his wife Deborah, son George, daughters Olivia and Sophia, and three other children. He is wealthy due to investing an inheritance he received from a deceased relative, and he donates the £35 that his job pays annually to local orphans and war veterans. On the evening of George's wedding to wealthy Arabella Wilmot, the Vicar loses all his money through the bankruptcy of his merchant investor who has left town abruptly.
The wedding is called off by Arabella's father, who is known for his prudence with money. George, who was educated at Oxford and is old enough to be considered an adult, is sent away to town. The rest of the family move to a new and more humble parish on the land of Squire Thornhill, who is known to be a womanizer. On the way, they hear about the dubious reputation of their new landlord. Also, references are made to the squire's uncle Sir William Thornhill, who is known throughout the country for his worthiness and generosity.
A poor and eccentric friend, Mr. Burchell, whom they meet at an inn, rescues Sophia from drowning. She is instantly attracted to him, but her ambitious mother does not encourage her feelings.
Then follows a period of happy family life, interrupted only by regular visits of the dashing Squire Thornhill and Mr. Burchell. Olivia is captivated by Thornhill's hollow charm, but he also encourages the social ambitions of Mrs. Primrose and her daughters to a ludicrous degree.
Finally, Olivia is reported to have fled. First Burchell is suspected...