Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School is a novel by Thomas Hardy, published anonymously in 1872. It was Hardy's second published novel, the last to be printed without his name, and the first of his great series of Wessex novels. Whilst Hardy originally thought of simply calling it The Mellstock Quire, he settled on a title taken from a song in Shakespeare's As You Like It (Act II, Scene V).
One of the most popular of Hardy's novels, Under The Greenwood Tree is a delightful and humorous depiction of life in an early Victorian rural community. The story delicately balances the concerns of the Mellstock parish choir with a romance between the village schoolmistress (Fancy Day) and a member of the choir (Dick Dewy). Hardy thought well enough of the tale to place it among his Novels of Character and Environment, a group which is held to include his most characteristic work.
Half an hour afterwards Dick emerged from the inn, and if Fancy's lips had been real cherries probably Dick's would have appeared deeply stained. -pg126
• Book review: Under The Greenwood Tree