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Novelist and Poet


When and Where was Thomas Hardy Born?

2nd June 1840. Upper Bockhampton, Dorset, England.

Family Background:

Thomas Hardy was the son of a builder and master mason, Thomas Hardy and Jemima Hand. Eldest of four children.

Education:

Village school at Bockhampton, under the patronage of Julia Augusta Martin, Lady of the Manor and one of the founders of the new school. Nonconformist School at Dorchester, Dorset, where he is taught by Isaac Last.

Chronology/Biography of Thomas Hardy:

1849: Visits London for the first time with his mother en route to visit an aunt in Hertfordshire.

1853: Thomas Hardy move's with Isaac Last to his newly created independent academy in Dorchester.

1856: Apprenticed to the Architect John Hicks in Dorchester. Continues his studies at home and begins to learn Greek. His first published work is accepted by the Dorset County Chronicle newspaper.

1857: Death of Mary his grandmother who has lived with the family since his birth.

1858: Hardy begins writing poetry.

1860: Finishes his apprenticeship at Hick's office and is kept on as a paid employee.

1862: Thomas Hardy moves to London and takes up employment with the architect Arthur Blomfield and lives in Kilburn.

1863: Becomes engaged to Eliza Nicholls. Wins prizes from the Royal Institute of British architects and the Architectural Association. Becomes interested in art and is a frequent visitor to the National Gallery.

1865: Arthur Blomfield gives the task of exhuming bodies from old St Pancras churchyard to Hardy in order to preparing the way for the new Midland railway. Hardy writes some of his earliest surviving poems.

Old St Pancras Church
Old St Pancras Church. Built in the Eleventh Century and restored heavily thereafter.
(© Anthony Blagg)

Hardy Tree, Old St Pancras Church
The so called Hardy tree in Old St Pancras Churchyard.
This Ash tree was planted at the time with all
the old gravestones arranged around it's trunk
.
The railway which now carries the Eurostar can be seen in the background.

(© Anthony Blagg)

1866: Relationship with Eliza Nicholls finishes.

1867: Thomas Hardy leaves London and resumes working for Hicks in Dorchester. Begins his first novel "The Poor Man and the Lady".

1869: (February) The publishers Chapman and Hall reject his novel. (April) Moves to the practice of G. R. Crickmay in Weymouth and settles in lodgings. "The Poor Man" is rejected by two other publishers but he starts on "Desperate Remedies".

1870: (February) Moves back to his parents home but continues to work for Crickmay. (March) Goes to St. Juliot in Cornwall on architectural business and falls in love with Emma Lavinina Gifford. (April) Moves back to Weymouth. "Desperate Remedies is rejected by the publishers Macmillan but Tinsley Brother's agree to publish it at Hardy's own expense. (May) Gives up his job with Crickmay and leaves for London. (August) Spends a three week holiday in Cornwall and spends much of the time with Emma.

1871: Publication of "Desperate Remedies". Resumes working for Crickmay in Weymouth. "Under the Greenwood Tree" is completed by early in the summer, but is rejected by Macmillan.

1872: Hardy moves to London and works for T. Roger Smith on architectural plans for schools. Sells the copyright of "Under the Greenwood Tree" to Tinsley's and it is published with a slight success. Emma's father refuses his request to marry her. (September) Serialisation of "A Pair of Blue Eyes" begins. (November) is invited by Leslie Stephen (the father of Virginia Woolf) to contribute to the Cornhill Magazine".

1873: "A Pair of Blue Eyes" is published as a single volume.

1874: Serialisation of "Far from the Madding Crowd" begins. (September) Emma and Hardy now married spend their honeymoon in France. They finally settle in a house in Paddington, London. (November) "Far from the Madding Crowd" is published as a single volume and is his first major success.

1875: The couple move to Swanage in Dorset where he works on "The Hand of Ethelberta" which is serialised in July.

1876: (March) Moves to Yeovil in Somerset. (May) Visits Holland and Germany. (July) Moves to Riverside Villa in Sturminster Newton in Dorset.

1877: "The Return of the Native " is rejected by two publishers including Leslie Stephen.

1878: Thomas Hardy moves to London, settling in Wandsworth. Begins researching in the British Museum for "The Trumpet Major". (November) "The Return of the Native " is finally published in single volume form.

1880: (October) Becomes seriously ill and has to dictate "A Laodicean" to his wife.

1881: (April) is allowed to leave the house for the first time since his illness. (June) They settle in Wimbourne in Dorset.

1882: They take a holiday in Paris.

1883: Moves to Dorchester where they begin to build Max Gate.

1884: Hardy works on the "Mayor of Casterbridge"

1885: The couple move into the completed Max Gate.

1887: They holiday in Italy.

1889: At work on "Tess of the D'Urbervilless" which is rejected by a number of magazines for serialisation including Macmillan's Magazine.

1891: Elected as a member of the Athenaeum Club in London. (September) Visits Scotland. (December) "Tess" finally appears in single volume form.

1892: Death of his father.

1893: (May) Visits Dublin. (August) Begins "Jude the Obscure".

1895: The first volume of his collected works appears.

1896: Takes an extended in holiday in England and on the continent and visits the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium.

1897: Thomas Hardy visits Switzerland.

1898: "Wessex Poems" appears being a collection of most of his poetry to date.

1901: "Poems Past and Present" is published which includes some of his poetry in response to the Boer War.

1902: Macmillan's become Hardy's publishers.

1904: Death of his mother. Researches "The Dynasts" in the library of the British Museum.

1905: Receives an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen. (September) Visits Aldeburgh in Suffolk to attend the 150 year celebrations of the birth of George Crabbe. First meeting with Florence Dugdale.

1909: Growing friendship with Florence Dugdale.

1910: (July) Is awarded the Order of Merit by King George the Fifth. (November) Receives the Freedom of the Borough of Dorchester.

1911: Emma Hardy completes "Some Recollections".

1912: Wessex Editions of his work appear. (May) Visits his friend Edward Clodd in Aldebrugh and sees Florence Dugdale. (June) Receives the Gold Medal from the Royal Society of Literature. (7th November) Death of Emma Hardy.

1913: (March) Hardy visits Cornwall to revisit places linked with Emma. Florence Dugdale moves into Max Gate. (June) Receives an Honorary Degree from Cambridge University. (July) Becomes an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

1915: Death of his sister Mary.

1916: Publication of the "Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy".

1917: Begins work on his autobiography which is to be published after his death in his wife's name. Publication of "Moments of Vision".

1919: Publication of "Collected Poems".

1920: (April) Last visit to London. Many congratulations are received on his 80th birthday, including those from King George the Fifth.

1922: Receives an Honorary Degree from the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland. Receives an Honorary Fellowship from Queen's College, Oxford.

1923: (20th July) The Prince of Wales, visits Hardy at Max Gate.

1925: Publication of "Human Shows".

1927: (11th December) Onset of Thomas Hardy's final illness.

1928: (11th January) Dictates his final verses to Florence.

Written Works:

(by date of publication)

  • 1871: "Desperate Remedies".
  • 1872: "Under the Greenwood Tree".
  • 1873: "A Pair of Blue Eyes".
  • 1874: "Far From the Madding Crowd".
  • 1876: "The Hand of Ethelberta".
  • 1878: "The Return of the Native".
  • 1880: "The Trumpet Major".
  • 1881: "A Laodicean".
  • 1882: "Two on a Tower".
  • 1886: "The Mayor of Casterbridge".
  • 1887: "The Woodlanders".
  • 1888: "Wessex Tales".
  • 1891: "A Group of Noble Dames". "Tess of the D'Urbervilles".
  • 1894: "Life's Little Ironies".
  • 1895: "Jude the Obscure".
  • 1897: "The Well Beloved".
  • 1898: "Wessex Poems".
  • 1901: "Poems of the Past and Present".
  • 1904: "The Dynasts".
  • 1906: "The Dynasts, Part 2".
  • 1908: "The Dynasts, Part 3".
  • 1914: "Satires of Circumstance".
  • 1919: "Collected Poems".
  • 1922: "Late Lyrics and Earlier".
  • 1925: "Human Shows".

Marriage:

1. 17th September 1874 to Emma Lavinia Gifford at St. Peter's Church, Paddington. The couple had first met at St. Juliot's Church, Cornwall where he had gone to draw up a plan for its restoration. (died 1912).
2. 10th February 1914 to Florence Emily Dugdale, at St. Andrew's Church Enfield in Middlesex.

When and Where did he Die?

12th January 1928. Max Gate, Dorchester, Dorset England, of a heart attack. The Pallbearers at his funeral were J.M.Barrie, G.B.Shaw, John Galsworthy, Rudyard Kipling, A.E. Housman, Stanley Baldwin and Ramsey MacDonald.

Age at Death:

87.

Site of Grave:

Ashes: Poetís Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, England. Heart: St. Michaelís Church, Stinsford, Dorset, England.

Places of Interest:

DORSET:

Birthplace Cottage, Upper Bockhampton.

Max Gate, Alington Avenue, Dorchester.

Lulworth Cove, (Scene of Sergeant Troy's Drowning).

Dorset County Museum, Dorchester has a recreation of his study.

Corfe Castle appears in "Desperate Remedies".

Portland Museum appears in "The Well Beloved".

LONDON:

British Museum Library.

SOMERSET:

Dunster Castle, appears in the "Laodicean".

Gaulden House, Lydeard St. Laurence, is the seat of the Turberville Family.

Further Information:

Thomas Hardy Society
Sue Brockham
PO Box 1438
Dorchester
DT1 1YH

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