The Well-Beloved is a novel by Thomas Hardy, published in 1897.
The main setting of the novel was The Isle of Slingers, a caricature of the Isle of Portland in Dorset, southern England.
Many of Hardy's novels were set in Dorset. The Well Beloved was one of Hardy's last novels. It was first published in three-part serial form in 1892, before his "final" novel Jude the Obscure (1895), and was then published after Jude the Obscure in amended book form in 1897. The novel tells the story of the sculptor Jocelyn Pierston's search for the ideal woman, through three generations of a Portland family.
A cottage housing what is now Portland Museum, on the Isle of Portland, founded by Marie Stopes, a friend of Hardy and his wife, was an inspiration for the book. The cottage acted as the home of Avice, the novel's heroine.