English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was highly critical of much in Victorian society, especially on the declining status of rural people in Britain. Many of his novels concern tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances, and they are often set in the semi-fictional region of Wessex. An Imaginative Woman was first published as a serial in Pall Mall Magazine in 1894. It was originally part of Wessex Tales but Hardy moved it into his collection Life’s Little Ironies for reasons that he explains rather cryptically in his preface, but which throw some light on how he meant it to be understood: “turning as it does upon a trick of Nature … a physical possibility that may attach to a wife of vivid imaginings, as is well known to medical practitioners and other observers of such manifestations.” The short story An Imaginative Woman introduces Ella, the disillusioned day-dreaming wife of a gun-maker. As a lover of poetry and amateur versifier herself, she is extremely moved on learning that the rooms her husband has rent for the family’s holiday are the lodgings of a young poet who resides there during the rest of the year. As she discovers verses inscribed by the poet himself on the wall just above her bed, her stirring reading experience takes on an undeniably erotic quality, bringing about the disturbing question of hysteria which gained interest and notoriety in the late nineteenth century. Enjoy free online English audiobook “An Imaginative Woman”, a breathtaking short story by Thomas Hardy.