Holograph fair-copy manuscript of Thomas Hardy's short story A Tragedy of Two Ambitions, with the author's minor emendations and the typesetters' annotations. Folio 1r has two alternative titles; 'A Tragedy of Two Ambitions' and 'The Shame of the Halboroughs' are bracketed together, with the former struck through. The date December 1888 is written in pencil on f. 36v.
Bound in with the manuscript are two typescript letters from Walter Butterworth of Bowdon, Cheshire, to Sir Alfred Hopkinson, Chairman of the John Rylands Library, dated 19 October and 15 December 1911, offering the manuscript to the Library and then forwarding it; together with a typescript extract of a letter from Thomas Hardy to Sir Sydney Cockerell, 11 October 1911, and a typescript copy of a letter from Cockerell to Butterworth, 14 October 1911. In the latter Cockerell sends Butterworth the manuscript of Life's Little Ironies, to be given to the Public Library in Manchester, 'or as it consists of three stories, it can be divided between the three appropriate Libraries you named.' He recommends Miss [Katherine] Adams to bind the manuscripts, 'who is a very first-class binder and does her work with remarkable taste. She binds all my valuable manuscripts... The binding should, I think, be full morocco without ornament.' In his letter, Hardy asks that it should be recorded that the manuscripts were presented through Cockerell's suggestion, since 'It would, I feel, not be quite becoming for a writer to send his Mss. to a Museum on his own judgement.' Around his time Hardy distributed a number of his manuscripts to libraries and museums through Cockerell, who was to become his literary executor.