Biography of Thomas Hardy

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English Author Thomas Hardy Biography

General Studies Question Bank CD Thomas Hardy was an English Author, Novelist and Poet, who is mainly known for his contribution in the naturalist movement. Though he always regarded himself as a poet and claimed poems as his first love, they are not as popular as novels composed by him.

Hardy’s huge popularity lies in the large volume of work, together known as the Wessex stories. These novels, plotted in a semi – fictional place, Wessex outline the lives of people struggling against their passion and the adverse conditions. Most of his works reflect his stoical glumness and sense of cataclysm in human life.

As both poet and author, Hardy displayed his mastery in dealing with themes of disappointment in love and life, human suffering and all – powering fate. Most of his works are set in the milieu of social tragedy, injustice and evil laws and often have a fatalistic end, with many of the characters falling prey to the unanticipated conditions. Among his most important works are novels Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native Wessex Tales and A Pair of Blue Eyes.

Thomas Hardy Childhood & Early Life

Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840 in the east of Dorchester in Dorset in England to a stonemason and his wife. His father also worked as a builder. Thomas received his initial schooling from his mother at home until the age of eight when Thomas Hardy went to school for the first time. After schooling in Bockhampton, he became an apprenticed to a local architect at age 16. Thomas Hardy worked there with a specialization in the restoration of Churches until 1862 when he moved to London to study architecture at King’s College, London. Thomas Hardy did well in studies and was given prizes from the Royal Instituted of British Architects and the Architectural Association but he had developed a passion for writing by then and decided to take it as a career.

Thomas Hardy Marriages

Thomas Hardy met his first wife Emma Lavinia 1870 in Cornwell, while still working as an architect. They married in 1874 after a long courtship. Though the marriage later became partly unhappy for unidentified reasons, her death in 1912 came as a shocking and painful experience to him.

Thomas Hardy mourned deeply and wrote poems as a tribute to her. His future works, poems set in the backdrop of Cornwall, were a reminiscence of their courtship and reflected both his remorse and love for his wife. One of such works was the Poems 1912 – 1913, a recollection of her death. In 1914, Hardy married for a second time. His second wife, Florence Dugdale was his previous secretary and 39 years younger to him.
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Thomas Hardy Views on Religion

There are strong suggestion that Hardy’s stance on religion swayed between agnosticism and atheism. Most of his works draw heavily upon the strength on all – powering fate and question the existence of God in the times of human suffering. As an Thomas Hardy Author and Poet, Hardy seemingly was fascinated with fatalistic ends and expressed pessimism that was impassive, indifferent. His own life was marked by a religious view that was a mixture of philosophy and spiritualism which did not discard the existence of God, yet questioned it.

Hardy rather showed an interest in writing about external supernatural forces, and fascination with ghosts and spirits. However a Church devotee, Hardy drew heavily upon the role of God in the irony and tragedy of life and human suffering.

Thomas Hardy Notable Works

Hardy as a writer is mainly known for his novels. His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady was written in 1867 and was destroyed when the manuscript was refused publication from a number of publishing houses.

After a turbulent first experienced, Hardy anonymously published two novels Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree in 1871 and 1872 respectively. His first success as a writer came in 1873, with the release of his first important workA Pair of Blue Eyes. The book was a recollection of his courtship with his first wife Emma.

Another stunning success was the beginning of the series of Wessex Tales which was published after his second novel Far from the Madding Crowd. The novel was first published in 1874 and brought him instant success. Thomas Hardy next wrote The Return of the native, published in 1878.

Hardy moved with his wife to Max Gate, in a house designed by him where Thomas wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, published in 1886 followed by The Woodlanders (1887) and Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891).

Hardy’s first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems was published in 1898. Since then, a prodigious output of his poems was published till 1928. Originally wanted to be a poet, Hardy claimed poem as his first priority, though Thomas Hardy could not achieve anything of distinct in this genre and it remained overshadowed by his works in prose.

Hardy as a poet showed a sharp observation of his surrounding and nature and wrote poems that displayed his affection for natural world. Although like his novels, his poems also carry strain of irony of life, cruel fate and regrets.

Thomas Hardy Themes

Hardy’s short stories and novel series are best remembered for their meticulous portrayal of life troubled by social evils, human suffering and struggle against injustice and ill – comprehended laws. Most of his novels are set in a semi – fictional place Wessex, a large area of south – west England. His most controversial novel, Jude the Obscure highlights the prejudice and hypocrisy of Victorian society on sexual conduct.

In another book Town on a Tower, Hardy displays a firm stand against an orthodox and conventional path for attaining love. Fate plays an important role in most of his books and remains the centre of most of his works. His characters always find themselves trapped and are often defeated by the fate and unforeseen conditions. His books portray people fighting against the cruelty of life, injustice and badly framed laws that constrain the social growth.

Hardy’s Death

In December 1927, Hardy fell sick with pleurisy and eventually died in January 1928. After the funeral on 16 January, his heart was buried with his first wife Emma and ashes in Poet’s Corner.

Thomas Hardy Timeline

  • 1840 – Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840.
  • 1862 – Thomas Hardy moved to London to study architecture at King’s College, London.
  • 1867 – His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady was written in 1867
  • 1870 – Thomas Hardy met his first wife Emma Lavinia 1870.
  • 1873 – His first important work A Pair of Blue Eyes was published.
  • 1874 – Hardy and Emma married in 1874.
  • 1874 – His second novel Far from the Madding Crowd was first published in 1874.
  • 1886 – Thomas Hardy wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, published in 1886.
  • 1898 – Hardy’s first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems was published in 1898.
  • 1912 – His first wife Emma died.
  • 1914 – Thomas Hardy married Florence Dugdale.
  • 1927 – Hardy fell sick with pleurisy.
  • 1928 – Thomas Hardy died.

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