Volumes IV and V of the Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy, which complete the edition, contain all of his dramatic writing in verse. Hardy was Hardy was interested in dramatic verse all his adult life; before he wrote his first novel he considered writing plays in blank verse, and during the thirty years of his novel-writing career he entered in his notebooks many schemes for a vast poetic drama of England's wars with Napoleon. But it was not until after he had turned from fiction to poetry, in the 1890s, that he actually began to work on a poetic drama. The Dynasts was written between 1902 and 1907; the Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall was began in 1916 and completed in 1923. In addition to the two major dramas this volume includes Hardy's versions of two folk-pieces: the Mummers'Play of 'Saint George'and the rustic operetta O'Jan. O'Jan, O'Jan'(here published for the first time). Textual annotations, together with a full account of the rough draft of Part Third of The Dynasts, make it possible for the reader to follow the history of the composition of Hardy's epic drama in unusual detail.
Explantory notes to each of the dramatic works describe its composition and publication, and provide supporting material from Hardy's letters and notebooks. Appendices add further information on the production and performance of these works.