Thomas Hardy: A Short Biography

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was a nineteenth century English novelist and poet belonging to the Naturalism movement. He is most remembered for his novels Tess of the D’urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, Return of the Native and Far from the Maddening Crowd. Most of his novels are set in the fictional English county Wessex. Hardy’s poetry has also received some recognition recently.


Thomas Hardy’s father was a stonemason and his mother was well read and educated him at home until he was eight. He then attended Mr. Last’s Academy for Young Gentlemen in Dorchester. However, a college education was beyond the reach of his family’s means, so he apprenticed to be an architect. 


After several years as an architect, Hardy decided to devote himself to writing. His first successful novel was his third, Far from the Maddening Crowd (1874), followed by Return of the Native in 1876. 


Though Thomas Hardy was successful as a novelist, he preferred poetry. His first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems, was published in 1898.  Now considered his best novels, Tess of the D’urbervilles and Jude the Obscure caused a lot of controversy due to their treatment of themes regarding sexuality and sex. After the publication of Jude the Obscure, Hardy turned solely to poetry.


Thomas Hardy married twice, first to Emma Lavinia Gifford in 1874. After she died in 1912, Hardy was devastated. Though he remarried to Florence Emily Dugdale in 1914, his first wife remained a strong theme in his poetry. Thomas Hardy died in 1928. His heart is buried with Emma in Stinsford and his ashes are in the Poets Corner of Westminster Cathedral.


Click here for analysis of Return of the Native

Click here for my review of Tess of the D’urbervilles


Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Biography.com. 1194-2011. Web. Accessed 2/29/2012.

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