THOMAS HARDY Biography
Childhood Home • Hardy lived from 1840 to 1928. • He was born in this Dorset cottage in the south west of England. It was built by his grandfather in 1800. • A description of the property is set out in Domiclium and is his oldest surviving poem. It faces west, and round the back and sides High beeches, bending, hang a veil of boughs, And sweep against the roof, Wild honeysucks Climb on the walls, and seem to sprout a wish (If we may fancy wish of trees and plants) To overtop the apple-trees hard by. Red roses, lilacs, varigated box Are there in plenty, and such hardy flowers As flourish best untrained. Adjoining these Are herbs and esculents; and farther still A field; then cottages with trees, and last The distant hills and sky. (extract from Domiclium 1860)
Early Years as an Architect • His formal education ended at the age of 16. He then trained as an architect in Dorchester. • He moved to London in 1862 and won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association. Hardy never truly felt at home in London and when he returned five years later to Dorset he decided to dedicate himself to writing.
Thomas Hardy the Novelist Thomas Hardy was a succesful novelist in his own lifetime, although his first love was writing poetry. His first book that gained notice was Far from the Madding Crowd (1874). After its success Hardy was convinced that he could earn his living as an author. He produced a series of novels, among them The Return of Native (1878) and The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886). Tess of the D'urbervilles (1891), which deals with the aftermath of rape, came into conflict with Victorian morality. Jude the Obscure (1895) aroused even more debate and it was sold in brown paper bags so it couldn’t be seen. In 1896, disturbed by the public uproar Hardy announced that he would never write fiction again and he concentrated on writing poetry.
Thomas Hardy and Emma Gifford • Thomas Hardy was married twice - his first marriage, was to Emma Gifford. They married in 1874.
Thomas Hardy and Emma Hardy The marriage between Thomas and Emma was childless and largely unhappy. It is rumoured that he had affairs. Emma suffered from physical ill-health and in the latter part of their marriage her mental health was not good either. Her death was a shock to Hardy. He had not anticipated it and may well have felt guilty about the lack of care he showed when she first became ill. Emma Hardy died in November 1912, and was buried in Stinsford churchyard. Thomas was stricken with remorse, but the result was some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings for his wife of 38 years.
Thomas Hardy’s Later Years • Hardy married his secretary, Florence Dugdale in 1914. She later became his biographer. • Hardy died in 1928, aged 87. He had asked to be laid beside Emma in Dorset, but others wanted his body buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. • In the end a compromise was reached. His ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey and his heart was buried with Emma.
Features of his novels • 1.sympathy for the peasants in an age of decline and decay of peasantry; • 2.nostalgia for the pastoral and patriarchal mode of life; • 3.man’s life controlled by hostile, cruel, mysterious fate; • 4.a pessimistic vein runs throughout his novels.
Features of his novels • 5. architectural structure by accumulating each circumstance, each detail to strengthen the final effect—Fate; • 6. a naturalistic tendency in his works.
FEATURES of HIS POETRY “Hap” Hardy’s most discussed and most widely used theme is that of chance and coincidence. One entire volume of poetry is devoted to the “Satires of Circumstance.” For Hardy, there was no omniscient ruling power of the universe. The experiences in one’s life were a result of Chance and Coincidence.
Loss of Belief Hardy was a pronounced agnostic during his later life. His poetry is marked with his disbelief in God and a belief in some other ruling force within the universe. In some ways, Hardy needs the basis of belief to show disbelief in his poetry.
Disillusioned Love In Hardy’s earlier works, this was a favored theme. Love was never reciprocated or happy, but tedious and marked with infidelity. The poems of 1912-1913 written after Emma’s death are also considered love poems.
Pessimism and Lack of Hope • Hardy’s novels and poems are generally characterized by a deep sense of hopelessness, which stems from the belirf that human beings are nothing more than puppets in the hand of an indifferent universe and cruel fate. Yet, he denies being a pessimistic author and calls himself a ‘meliorist’, which indicates people being between optimistic and pessimistic worldviews.