Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially, he gained fame as the author of novels such as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). During his lifetime, Hardy's poetry was acclaimed by younger poets (particularly the Georgians) who viewed him as a mentor. After his death his poems were lauded by Ezra Pound, W. H. Auden and Philip Larkin.
Many of his novels concern tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances, and they are often set in the semi-fictional region of Wessex; initially based on the medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom, Hardy's Wessex eventually came to include the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire and much of Berkshire, in southwest and south central England. Two of his novels, Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd, were listed in the top 50 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
Hardy became ill with pleurisy in December 1927 and died at Max Gate just after 9 pm on 11 January 1928, having dictated his final poem to his wife on his deathbed; the cause of death was cited, on his death certificate, as "cardiac syncope", with "old age" given as a contributory factor. His funeral was on 16 January at Westminster Abbey, and it proved a controversial occasion because Hardy had wished for his body to be interred at Stinsford in the same grave as his first wife, Emma. His family and friends concurred; however, his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, insisted that he be placed in the abbey's famous Poets' Corner. A compromise was reached whereby his heart was buried at Stinsford with Emma, and his ashes in Poets' Corner. Hardy's estate at death was valued at £95,418 (equivalent to £5,800,000 in 2019)
Thomas Hardy OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, including the poetry of William Wordsworth. He was highly critical of much in Victorian society, especially on the declining status of rural people in Britain, such as those from his native South West England.
Books by Thomas Hardy
The Return of the Native
Amidst the fireworks and celebrations of Guy Fawkes Night, a covered wagon winds its way along the dark country heath land. Hidden at the back is a young woman who is running away from a thwarted marriage ceremony with the local innkeeper. The driver...
Jude the Obscure
A young man from a poor, working-class background, passionate about education, who aspires to become a professor. His teacher, a respected role model who turns out to have feet of clay. An independent, free-spirited woman. Another who is scheming, se...
Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is the quintessential cliff hanger. Incidentally, Hardy is the author with whom this term actually originated. In one of his books, A Pair of Blue Eyes, he had his hero literally hanging from a cliff face, gi...
Far From the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) is Thomas Hardy's fourth novel and his first major literary success. It originally appeared anonymously as a monthly serial in Cornhill Magazine, where it gained a wide readership. The novel is the first to be set i...
The Mayor of Casterbridge
The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Life and Death of a Man of Character is an 1886 novel by the English author Thomas Hardy. One of Hardy's Wessex novels, it is set in a fictional rural England with Casterbridge standing in for Dorchester in Dorset where...
Under the Greenwood Tree
Under the Greenwood Tree: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School is a novel by the English writer Thomas Hardy, published anonymously in 1872. It was Hardy's second published novel, and the first of what was to become his series of Wessex novels. Criti...
The Hand of Ethelberta
The Hand of Ethelberta: A Comedy in Chapters is a novel by Thomas Hardy, published in 1876. It was written, in serial form, for the Cornhill Magazine, which was edited by Leslie Stephen, a friend and mentor of Hardy's. Unlike the majority of Hardy's...
The Woodlanders is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It was serialised from May 1886 to April 1887 in Macmillan's Magazine and published in three volumes in 1887. It is one of his series of Wessex novels.
Wessex Poems and Other Verses (often referred to simply as Wessex Poems) is a collection of fifty-one poems set against the bleak and forbidding Dorset landscape by English writer Thomas Hardy. It was first published in 1898 by New York: Harper, ISBN...
A cottage housing what is now part of Portland Museum, on the Isle of Portland, founded by Marie Stopes, a friend of Hardy and his wife, was an inspiration for the book. The cottage acted as the home of Avice, the novel's heroine.
The Trumpet Major
The novel is set in Weymouth during the Napoleonic wars; the town was then anxious about the possibility of invasion by Napoleon. Of the two brothers, John fights with Wellington in the Peninsular War, and Bob serves with Nelson at Trafalgar. The Nap...
Hardy writes of the true nature of nineteenth-century marriage and its inherent restrictions, the use of grammar as a diluted form of thought, the disparities created by the role of class status in determining societal rank, the stance of women in so...
A Pair of Blue Eyes
The book describes the love triangle between a young woman, Elfride Swancourt, and her two suitors from very different backgrounds. Stephen Smith is a socially inferior but ambitious young man who adores her and with whom she shares a country backgro...
Two on a Tower
Two on a Tower: A Romance (1882) is a novel by English author Thomas Hardy, classified by him as a romance and fantasy it is one of his minor works. The book is one of Hardy's Wessex novels, set in late Victorian Dorset.
To Flowers From Italy In Winter
This Weekly Poem features some of the Poet's thoughts on imported flowers.
When I set out for Lyonnesse
This Weekly poem is from the collection Satires of Circumstance by Thomas Hardy (1914). Lyonnesse was a mythical Kingdom mentioned in the Arthurian legends.
A Commonplace Day
It features some of Hardy's earliest works and showcases his literary talents in their earliest form. The book's title, "A Commonplace Day," reflects the theme of the poems contained within it. These poems depict the ordinary, everyday experiences o...