Thomas Hardy

Biography of Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928)

Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

Thomas Masterson Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was a novelist and poet, generally regarded as one of the greatest figures in English literature.

Thomas Hardy was born near Dorchester in Dorset. His father was a stonemason. His mother was ambitious and well-read and supplemented his formal education. Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester before moving to London to take up employment. He won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association.

His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, was finished in 1867 but failed to find a publisher. Desperate Remedies (1871) and Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) were published anonymously. In 1873, A Pair of Blue Eyes was published under his own name. The story draws on Hardy’s courtship of Emma Gifford whom he married in 1874. His next novel, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) was successful enough for Hardy to be able to give up his architectural work and take up a full-time literary career.

Over the next 25 years, Hardy produced 10 more novels. The Hardys moved from London to Yeovil, and then to Sturminster Newton, where he wrote The Return of the Native (1878). In 1885, they returned to Dorchester, moving into Max Gate, a house which Hardy had designed himself.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) attracted criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of a ‘fallen woman’ and was initially refused publication. Its subtitle, A Pure Woman, was intended to raise the eyebrows of the Victorian middle-classes and did so. His next major novel, Jude the Obscure (1895) caused an uproar. It was heavily criticized for its apparent attack on the institution of marriage. The book caused further strain on Hardy’s already difficult marriage due to Emma’s concern that it would be read as autobiographical. Some booksellers sold the novel in brown paper bags and the Bishop of Wakefield is reputed to have burnt a copy. Disgusted with the public reception of two of his greatest works, Hardy gave up writing novels altogether.

In 1898, Hardy published his first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems, a collection of poems
written over the previous 30 years. His poetry was not as well received by his contemporaries as his novels had been, but Hardy continued to publish collections until his death in 1928.

Although Hardy had been estranged from his wife for some years, her sudden death in 1912
had a traumatic effect on him. He made a trip to Cornwall to revisit places linked with her and their courtship and wrote a series, Poems 1912-13, exploring his grief. In 1914 he married Florence Dugdale, 40 years his junior, whom he had first met in 1905.

Hardy fell ill in December 1927 and died in January 1928, dictating his final poem to his wife on his deathbed. His funeral, on 16 January at Westminster Abbey, was a controversial occasion: his family and friends had wished him to be buried at Stinsford, but his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, had insisted he should be placed in Poets’ Corner. A compromise was reached, whereby his heart was buried at Stinsford and his ashes were interred in the abbey.

Hardy’s novels, stories and many of the poems take place in the “partly-real, partly-dream” county of Wessex (named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which existed in the area). The landscape was modelled on the real counties of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire, with fictional places based on real locations. One of his distinctive achievements is to have captured the cultural atmosphere of rural Wessex in the golden epoch that existed just before the impact of the railways and the industrial revolution was to change the English countryside for ever.

His works are often deeply pessimistic and full of bitter irony, in sharp contrast to the prevalent Victorian optimism. His writing is sometimes rough and even inelegant but at its best is capable of immense power. Critical response to Hardy’s poetry has warmed considerably, in part because of the influence of Philip Larkin. Hardy’s cottage at Brockhampton and Max Gate in Dorchester are owned by the National Trust.

Biography By: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Thomas Hardy.

Poems By Thomas Hardy


“Between Us Now” (No Comments »)
“How Great My Grief” (Triolet) (No Comments »)
“I Have Lived With Shades” (No Comments »)
“I Need Not Go” (No Comments »)
“I Said to Love” (No Comments »)
[Greek Title] (No Comments »)
A Broken Appointment (No Comments »)
A Christmas Ghost Story. (No Comments »)
A Commonplace Day (No Comments »)
A Confession To A Friend In Trouble (No Comments »)
A Man (In Memory of H. of M.) (No Comments »)
A Meeting With Despair (No Comments »)
A Sign-Seeker (No Comments »)
A Spot (No Comments »)
A Wasted Illness (No Comments »)
Additions (No Comments »)
After Schiller (No Comments »)
Afterwards (No Comments »)
Amabel (No Comments »)
An August Midnight (No Comments »)
At A Bridal (No Comments »)
At a Hasty Wedding (No Comments »)
At a Lunar Eclipse (No Comments »)
At An Inn (No Comments »)
At Castle Boterel (No Comments »)
At the War Office, London (No Comments »)
Beeny Cliff (No Comments »)
Birds at Winter Nightfall (Triolet) (No Comments »)
By the Earth’s Corpse (No Comments »)
Cardinal Bembo’s Epitaph on Raphael (No Comments »)
Catullus: XXXI (No Comments »)
Channel Firing (No Comments »)
De Profundis (No Comments »)
Departure (No Comments »)
Ditty (No Comments »)
Domicilium (No Comments »)
Doom and She (No Comments »)
Drummer Hodge (No Comments »)
Friends Beyond (No Comments »)
From Victor Hugo (No Comments »)
Genoa and the Mediterranean. (No Comments »)
God-Forgotten (No Comments »)
God’s Funeral (No Comments »)
Hap (No Comments »)
He Never Expected Much (No Comments »)
Heiress And Architect (No Comments »)
Her Death And After (No Comments »)
Her Dilemma (No Comments »)
Her Immortality (No Comments »)
Her Initals (No Comments »)
Her Late Husband (King’s-Hintock, 182-.) (No Comments »)
Her Reproach (No Comments »)
His Immortality (No Comments »)
I Have Lived With Shades (No Comments »)
I Look Into My Glass (No Comments »)
I Said To Love (No Comments »)
In A Eweleaze Near Weatherbury (No Comments »)
In a Wood (No Comments »)
In Tenebris (No Comments »)
In The Old Theatre, Fiesole. (No Comments »)
In The Vaulted Way (No Comments »)
In Time Of “The Breaking Of Nations” (No Comments »)
In Vision I Roamed (No Comments »)
Last Words To A Dumb Friend (No Comments »)
Lausanne, In Gibbon’s Old Garden: 11-12 p.m. (No Comments »)
Leipzig (No Comments »)
Lines (No Comments »)
Lines On The Loss Of The “Titanic” (No Comments »)
Long Plighted (No Comments »)
Mad Judy (No Comments »)
Middle-Age Enthusiasms (No Comments »)
Mute Opinion (No Comments »)
My Cicely (No Comments »)
Nature’s Questioning (No Comments »)
Neutral Tones (No Comments »)
No Buyers (No Comments »)
On a Fine Morning (No Comments »)
On an Invitation to the United States (No Comments »)
Postponement (No Comments »)
Revulsion (No Comments »)
Rom: On the Palatine (No Comments »)
Rome at the Pyramid of Cestius Near the Graves of Shelley and Keats (No Comments »)
Rome: Building a New Street in the Ancient Quarter (No Comments »)
Rome: On the Palatine. (No Comments »)
Rome: The Vatican-Sala Delle Muse. (No Comments »)
San Sebastian (No Comments »)
Sapphic Fragment (No Comments »)
Satires of Circumstance in Fifteen Glimpses VIII: In the St (No Comments »)
She At His Funeral (No Comments »)
She, To Him (No Comments »)
She, To Him III (No Comments »)
She, To Him IV (No Comments »)
She, to Him, I (No Comments »)
She, to Him, II (No Comments »)
Shelley’s Skylark (The neighbourhood of Leghorn: March) (No Comments »)
Song From Heine (No Comments »)
Song of Hope (No Comments »)
Song of the Soldier’s Wifes. (No Comments »)
Tess’s Lament (No Comments »)
The Alarm (No Comments »)
The Bedridden Peasant to an Unknown God (No Comments »)
The Bridge of Lodi. (No Comments »)
The Bullfinches (No Comments »)
The Burghers (No Comments »)
The Caged Thrush Freed and Home Again (Villanelle) (No Comments »)
The Casterbridge Captains (No Comments »)
The Cave Of The Unborn (No Comments »)
The Choirmaster’s Burial (No Comments »)
The Colonel’s Solilquy (No Comments »)
The Comet at Valbury or Yell’ham (No Comments »)
The Contretemps (No Comments »)
The Convergence Of The Twain (No Comments »)
The Coquette, and After (Triolets) (No Comments »)
The Dame of Athelhall (No Comments »)
The Dance At The Phoenix (No Comments »)
The Darkling Thrush (No Comments »)
The Dead Drummer (No Comments »)
The Dream-Follower (No Comments »)
The Fallow Deer At The Lonely House (No Comments »)
The Fire At Tranter Sweatley’s (No Comments »)
The Going (No Comments »)
The Going of the Battery Wives. (Lament) (No Comments »)
The House Of Hospitalities (No Comments »)
The Impercipient (No Comments »)
The Inconsistent (No Comments »)
The Ivy-Wife (No Comments »)
The King’s Experiment (No Comments »)
The Lacking Sense Scene.–A sad-coloured landscape, Waddon Vale (No Comments »)
The Last Chrysanthemum (No Comments »)
The Levelled Churchyard (No Comments »)
The Lost Pyx: A Mediaeval Legend (No Comments »)
The Man He Killed (No Comments »)
The Milkmaid (No Comments »)
The Mother Mourns (No Comments »)
The Oxen (No Comments »)
The Peasant’s Confession (No Comments »)
The Phantom Horsewoman. (No Comments »)
The Problem (No Comments »)
The Puzzled Game-Birds (No Comments »)
The Respectable Burgher on “The Higher Criticism” (No Comments »)
The Ruined Maid (No Comments »)
The Seasons of Her Year (No Comments »)
The Self-Unseeing (No Comments »)
The Selfsame Song (No Comments »)
The Sergeant’s Song (No Comments »)
The Sick God (No Comments »)
The Sleep-Worker (No Comments »)
The Slow Nature (No Comments »)
The Souls of the Slain (No Comments »)
The Stranger’s Song (No Comments »)
The Subalterns (No Comments »)
The Superseded (No Comments »)
The Supplanter: A Tale (No Comments »)
The Temporary The All (No Comments »)
The Tenant-For-Life (No Comments »)
The Tree: An Old Man’s Story (No Comments »)
The Two Men (No Comments »)
The Voice (No Comments »)
The Well-Beloved (No Comments »)
The Widow (No Comments »)
Thought Of Ph—a At News Of Her Death (No Comments »)
To A Lady (No Comments »)
To An Orphan Child (No Comments »)
To An Unborn Pauper Child (No Comments »)
To Flowers From Italy in Winter (No Comments »)
To Life (No Comments »)
To Lizbie Browne (No Comments »)
To Outer Nature (No Comments »)
Transformations (No Comments »)
Unknowing (No Comments »)
V.R. 1819-1901 (A Reverie.) (No Comments »)
Valenciennes (No Comments »)
Waiting Both (No Comments »)
Winter in Durnover Field (No Comments »)
Wives in the Sere (No Comments »)
Zermatt to the Matterhorn. (No Comments »)

Late Lyrics and Earlier

An Ancient To Ancients (No Comments »)
An Autumn Rain-Scene (No Comments »)
At Lulworth Cove A Century Back (No Comments »)
At The Railway Station, Upways (No Comments »)
Mismet (No Comments »)
Weathers (No Comments »)

Moments of Vision

During Wind And Rain (No Comments »)
Fragment (No Comments »)
Heredity (No Comments »)
In A Museum (No Comments »)
Midnight On The Great Western (No Comments »)
Moments Of Vision (No Comments »)
The Masked Face (No Comments »)
The Pity Of It (No Comments »)
Then And Now (No Comments »)


Epitaph On A Pessimist (No Comments »)

Poems of the Past and the Present

A Wife In London (No Comments »)
Architectural Masks (No Comments »)
Between Us Now (No Comments »)
Embarcation (No Comments »)
The Church-Builder (No Comments »)
The To-Be-Forgotten (No Comments »)

Satires of Circumstance

A Thunderstorm In Town (No Comments »)
Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave? (No Comments »)
In The Moonlight (No Comments »)
Men Who March Away (No Comments »)
My Spirit Will Not Haunt The Mound (No Comments »)
The Ghost Of The Past (No Comments »)
The Sun On The Bookcase (No Comments »)
The Year’s Awakening (No Comments »)
Under The Waterfall (No Comments »)
When I Set Out For Lyonnesse (No Comments »)

Time's Laughingstocks

George Meredith (No Comments »)
Let Me Enjoy (No Comments »)
Night In The Old Home (No Comments »)
She Hears The Storm (No Comments »)
The Dead Man Walking (No Comments »)
The Farm Woman’s Winter (No Comments »)
The Rambler (No Comments »)
The Roman Road (No Comments »)

Wessex Poems and Other Verses

Thoughts Of Phena (No Comments »)