Thomas Hardy

Biography of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in Dorsetshire, England. He attended a traditional school in his town, studying languages and reading extensively. He was sent to apprentice the town’s architect when he was sixteen years old, but he continued to study literature and drama with a tutor. Hardy moved to London in 1862 to learn from and work for an architect. During his life in the city, he explored the museums, plays, and operas and began writing poetry. In 1867, Hardy returned to his home in Dorsetshire to work as an architect.

Hardy’s first literary publications were novels. His first work, Desperate Remedies, was published in 1871, and for the next three years Hardy released a novel annually. In 1873, Hardy decided to devote his full attention to writing and quit working in architecture. He married Emma Gifford the following year… [His poetry often employed the scenery of his hometown as a catalyst for a very dark and pessimistic perspective on life] … and continued writing industriously. Hardy’s first real critical success came with the publication of The Return of the Native in 1878. However, the printing of Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895) caused a tumult among his readers and critics because of the controversial subject matter in his writing, often dark and sexual.

Three years after Jude the Obscure’s publication, Hardy officially focused his creative writing to poetry instead of prose. His first collection of poems, Wessex Poems, appeared in 1898 and was followed four years later with Poems of the Past and Present. He composed a trilogy of mostly blank verse poetry chronicling the Napoleonic Wars called The Dynasts (1903-1908). Hardy received numerous awards and honors, including the presidency of the Society of Authors in 1909 and a gold medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1912. His poetry often employed the scenery of his hometown as a catalyst for a very dark and pessimistic perspective on life, keeping mostly with traditional forms, meter and rhyme.

Hardy’s wife died unexpectedly in November of 1912, which plunged him into a darker state of being, experiencing regrets about the ever-widening schism between he and his wife in the latter part of their marriage. His writing from that point focused on his love for his first wife, even though he married again in 1914 to his secretary Florence Dugdale. He continued writing poetry and short stories as he worked on his autobiography, published posthumously under his second wife’s name. He died on January 11, 1928. His ashes were placed in Westminster Abbey and his heart was buried in Emma’s grave.



Poems by Thomas Hardy

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