Mary Webb. Seven for a Secret. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1922. First edition. The dedication copy, inscribed on the front free endpaper: “Mr. Thomas Hardy / with the greatest respect / and admiration from / Mary Webb. / Nov: 27th 1922. / 46. B. Leinster Square / London. W. 2.” Webb’s dedication reads: “To the Illustrious Name of Thomas Hardy whose Acceptance of this Dedication has Made Me so Happy.” As a young woman, Mary Webb read and admired Hardy’s novels of rural life in Dorset (which he renamed Wessex). Both Webb and Hardy were steeped in the traditions of their respective counties and drew upon local legends and customs for their literary material. Webb wrote to Hardy on September 5, 1922 asking for permission to dedicate her fourth novel “to the author whom I consider the greatest exponent of the wild human heart since Shakespeare.” Webb subsequently sent this dedication copy to him on November 29th enclosing a letter saying, in part: “Please accept it as you would a child’s stalkless daisy—valueless, but given with enthusiasm and sincerity . . . I do appreciate with intensity the rich beauty and majesty of your own interpretation of nature & humanity.” Laid in are photocopies of Webb’s letters to Hardy with Frederick B. Adams, Jr.’s annotation, “Original in Dorset County Museum.” Thomas Hardy’s widow presented Adams with Hardy’s inscribed dedication copy of Seven for a Secret as well as Hardy’s presentation copy of Precious Bane in 1935. When asked to name the two favorite books in his library, Adams chose this volume and Das Kapital.