Thomas Hardy is one of Britain’s greatest authors. Considered a Victorian realist, Hardy examines the social constraints on the lives of those living in Victorian England. Wessex Tales, a collection of short stories including The Three Strangers, The Withered Arm and Fellow Townsmen, deal with a number of timeless themes seen so often in Hardy’s work, including marriage, class, revenge and disappointed love. One of Hardy’s best re-creations of the past of Wessex is his lengthy story “The Distracted Preacher.” The preacher of the title is Mr Stockdale, a Wesleyan minister living in the 1830s during King William IV’s reign. Being new to town, he takes lodgings and discovers his new landlady, Lizzy Newberry, to be a beautiful young widow. The two are almost immediately attracted to each other and soon fall in love. Stockdale soon discovers, however, that Lizzy is not as totally respectable as she appears. First, she obtains some illegal smuggled liquor to cure the preacher’s cold; next, Stockdale notices that she seems to sleep late until he eventually realizes that she is often out of the house all night. Gradually, he realizes and she reveals to him that she is working with a group of smugglers who help to support the town during the winter and that in fact she, with her cousin Jim Owlett, is a leader of the smugglers. While you listen online to English audiobook "The Distracted Preacher” for free you will discover a short story which is a part of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex Tales.