Image of Thomas Hardy


Lifetime: 1840 - 1928 Passed: ≈ 96 years ago


Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer



Thomas Hardy

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 Cover image

The Return of the Native

Fiction Novel
Love Romance Trade

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 Cover image

Jude the Obscure

Romance History Novel Tragedy
Social Education Didactic fiction

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 Cover image

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Fiction Non-Fiction Tragedy
Pride Fate Injustice Purity

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 Cover image

Far From the Madding Crowd

Romance Fiction Novel
Marriage Pride Love Class Gender

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 Cover image

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Fiction Novel
Fate Suffering

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 Cover image

Under the Greenwood Tree

Fiction Novel
Pastoral True Love

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 Cover image

The Hand of Ethelberta

Fiction Novel
Marriage Social Class Gender

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 Cover image

The Woodlanders

Fiction Novel
Marriage Love Social Class Social Mobility

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 Cover image

Wessex Poems

Poetry Fiction
Naturalistic Love Landscape Rural Life

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...

The Well-Beloved  Cover image

The Well-Beloved

Love Heroic Home Happiness England General Fiction

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  Cover image

The Trumpet Major

Romance Novel
War Fantastique Loyalty Success Honesty Invasion Historical Tragic

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...

Wessex Tales  Cover image

Wessex Tales

Marriage 19th century Nature Society Life Emotion

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 Cover image

A Pair of Blue Eyes

Romance Novel
Romantic Love Young Social Society Life London Ambition

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 Cover image

Two on a Tower

Fantasy Romance Novel
Romantic Love Young Dream Astronomy Journey Emotion Relationships General Fiction

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 Cover image

To Flowers From Italy In Winter

Poems Fortnightly Multi-version Prose Winter

This Weekly Poem features some of the Poet's thoughts on imported flowers.

When I set out for Lyonnesse Cover image

When I set out for Lyonnesse

Kingdom Poems Fortnightly Prose

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 Cover image

A Commonplace Day

Beauty Nature Tradition Poems Verses Experiences Fortnightly

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...

Poems of Pilgrimage Cover image

Poems of Pilgrimage

Love Poems Journey Loss Spirituality Emotion Verses Experiences Lyrical

In the ethereal realm of "Poems of Pilgrimage" by Thomas Hardy, words embark on a sacred journey, echoing the footsteps of weary travelers through the labyrinth of life. As if etched on ancient scrolls, Hardy's verses resonate with the souls of those...

Oxen Cover image


LibriVox volunteers bring you seven different recordings of The Oxen, by Thomas Hardy. This was the weekly poetry project for the week of December 17th, 2006.

Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses (Selection) Cover image

Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses (Selection)

Hardy claimed poetry as his first love, and published collections until his death in 1928. Although not as well received by his contemporaries as his novels, Hardy's poetry has been applauded considerably in recent years. Most of his poems deal with...

Far From The Madding Crowd, version 2 Cover image

Far From The Madding Crowd, version 2

Far From The Madding Crowd is Hardy's fourth novel. It centres on the lives of five characters: Gabriel Oak, Bathsheba Everdene, Mr Boldwood, Sgt. Troy and Fanny Robin. The plot involves love, loyalty, death and betrayal and all this is delivered to...

Desperate Remedies Cover image

Desperate Remedies

Cytherea Graye is poor, but accepts a post as lady's maid to the eccentric Miss Aldclyffe, the woman whom her father had loved but had not been able to marry. Cytherea in turn loves a young architect, Edward Springrove; but will Miss Adclyffe's machi...

Song of the Soldiers' Wives Cover image

Song of the Soldiers' Wives

Thomas Hardy is regarded as one of the best English novelists. His novels are heartbreaking, unconventional, sad and lyrical. He also wrote many poems. This is one of the best. This is the weekly poem for the week starting at 5 August 2012. (Summary...

Group of Noble Dames Cover image

Group of Noble Dames

The pedigrees of our county families, arranged in diagrams on the pages of county histories, mostly appear at first sight to be as barren of any touch of nature as a table of logarithms. But given a clue—the faintest tradition of what went on behind...

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