"The Mayor of Casterbridge" is a tragic novel by British author Thomas Hardy. It is set in a fictional rustic England.
At a country fair near Casterbridge, Wessex, a young hay-trusser named Michael Henchard overindulges in rum-laced furmity and quarrels with his wife, Susan. Spurred by alcohol, he decides to auction off his wife and baby daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, to a sailor, Mr. Newson, for five guineas. Once sober the next day, he is too late to recover his family, particularly since his reluctance to reveal his own bad conduct keeps him from conducting an effective search. When he realizes that his wife and daughter are gone, probably for good, he swears not to touch liquor again for as many years as he has lived so far.
Nineteen years later, Henchard, now a successful grain merchant, is the eponymous Mayor of Casterbridge, known for his staunch sobriety. He is well respected for his financial acumen and his work ethic, but he is not well liked. Impulsive, selfish behavior and a violent temper are still part of his character, as are dishonesty and secretive activity.