Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born June 2nd, 1840 in Stinsford, Dorset, England. The son of a stonemason, Hardy was first educated by his well-read mother before attending his first school at the age of eight. Hardy's formal schooling ended at age 16 as his family lacked the means to afford any college education for him.

He then became an apprentice to a local architect. In 1862, he moved to London where he enrolled as a student of architecture at King's College London. Hardy found some success in the world of architecture but began writing as a pastime. His first novel, "The Poor Man and the Lady", was finished in 1867 but never published as Hardy was advised against seeking a publisher by his friend the Victorian poet George Meredith.

Hardy began writing again in 1871, publishing both "Desperate Remedies" and "Under the Greenwood Tree" in 1873. In 1870, Hardy met his first wife, Emma Lavinia Gifford whom he married three years later. During this time, Hardy began to see some commercial success as a writer but it was his first hit novel, "Far From the Maddening Crowd" (1874) that gave him leave to give up his work as an architect and start a career as a full-time writer.

He and his wife soon moved to Yeovil, England where he produced more of his most well-known work. "Return of the Native" (1878) and 'Two on a Tower' (1882). He and his wife moved into a house that he had designed and built in 1885 and while there Hardy wrote: "The Mayor of Casterbridge" (1886), "The Woodlanders" (1887) and perhaps his most famous work, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" (1891).

Hardy began receiving backlash from the Victorian public in regards to his racy novel "Tess" and a later, even more, opposed novel, "Jude the Obscure" (1895) which challenged societies views of marriage and religion. Hardy's relationship with his wife, already strained, became even more so after "Jude" was released as she worried that people would think it was autobiographical. Hardy himself joked about the response to the novel but some historians today believe he may have given up writing novels because of it as 'Jude' was the last novel he produced.

Hardy began publishing books of poetry in 1898 with his first collection, "Wessex Poems". During the twentieth century, Hardy published only poetry.

In 1910, Hardy was awarded the Order of Merit prize for his books and was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature for the first time. He went on to be nominated for the prestigious award eleven more times. In 1912, his estranged wife died and in honor of her death, Hardy traveled to Cornwall, England to revisit some of the places they spent their courtship.

Hardy remarried in 1914, to his secretary Florence Emily Dugdale who was 39 years younger than him. In 1927, Hardy became ill with pleurisy and died in the home he had built for his first wife that same year.

His funeral became somewhat controversial, as Hardy had dictated that he wanted to be buried next to his first wife. But his family and friends insisted that he be buried in Westminster Abbey's famous Poet's Corner. They reached a compromise where his heart was buried next to his wife at Stinsford but his ashes were interred at Westminster.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles

"Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented" is the title of an 1891 novel by the English author Thomas Hardy. The novel was originally published in serial form by the British illustrated newspaper The Graphic the year before it's official release in 1892. The book was well received by the public and became a literary classic. In 1897, just 6 years after it's original … [Read more...]