The Woodlanders is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It was published in 1887.
The story is set in Woodland, village of Little Hintock. George Melbury, a timber merchant has been socially ambitions for his daughter Grace, whom he has educated above her class. He has committed her to the rustic Giles Winterbourne, an honest woodsman and Grace's childhood sweetheart. Now Melbury has a change of heart for his beloved daughter. When Winterbourne meets financial and legal misfortunes, Melbury uses this as an excuse to end his relationship with Grace.
When a scion of a once-prominent local family and handsome Dr. Edred Fitzpiers, expresses an interest in marrying Grace, Melbury did everything to match the two. However, she is not enthusiastic with Fitzpiers knowing about his dalliances. Since her father insists, the marriage takes place.
Soon, the womanizing Fitzpiers forms a liaison with Felice Charmone, a rich widow who has returned from abroad to Hintock Manor House. Enraged, Melbury assaults Fitzpiers, who takes refuge with Mrs Charmond. They go to the Continent but after a petty quarrel, their association ends. It is on the Continent that the shadowy figure of the "gentleman from South Carolina" appears and kills Mrs Charmond in a jealous feat. Fitzpiers returns to England.
Meanwhile, Melbury tries to get a divorce for Grace so she can marry Giles, but in vain. Fitzpiers tries to reconcile with his wife, but Grace runs away and turns to Giles for help. The noble Giles, still ill, allows her to sleep in his cottage while he retreats outdoor in a cold and stormy weather. Exposed further to the strong winds, he dies. A courageous peasant girl who deeply loves Giles is left to mourn him. Once again, Grace, submitting her destiny to Fitzpiers' kind, is reunited with him.
The novel is once again typical of Hardy with readers often frustrated with characters ending with unrequited love, acceptance of unfulfilled dreams, a sad destiny.