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The Life and Times of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

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Introduction

The Life and Times of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) Thomas Hardy, an English poet and novelist, was most famous for his portrayal of the imaginary county "Wessex". Hardy's work reflected his negative view and sense of tragedy in human life. Hardy was born June 2, 1840 in Dorset near Dorchester. His father was a stonemason. Hardy's mother provided for his education. Her tastes included Latin poets and French romances. A year later his sister, Mary was born. At the age of 8 in 1948, Hardy attended a village school and in 1849 he went to a school in Dorchester, he studied there until the age of 16. The first 10 years of Hardy's life saw the great Irish famine, chartist riots, the Repeal of Corn Laws and the introduction of Penny Post. 1847 was particularly important because it was then that the Bront� sisters released their best-selling novels, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Also the railway was established in Dorchester during 1847. The news and images of the famine, the riots and railway introduction to Dorchester without a doubt reached Hardy and as a juvenile he understood little but took it all in and this may be what set off his negative view and sense of human life. ...read more.

Middle

The book was rejected by publishers and so Hardy destroyed the manuscript. A year after moving back Hardy had a romantic affair with his cousin Tryphena Sparks. He wrote a poem about her after her death which suggests he didn't really get over her. In 1861 the American Civil War broke out. During the 1860s Hardy steadily lost his religious faith. This was probably because of the events and issues Hardy had experienced. The 1870s were somewhat better for Thomas Hardy because he met, fell in love with and married Emma Lavinia Gifford. At around the same time the Franco-Prussian War took place and the Education Act meant education was free for all. Hardy anonymously published Desperate Remedies, this was yet another failure. At age 32 in 1872 hardy enjoyed minor success with 'Under the Greenwood Tree' and then the following year another one of his novels 'A Pair of Blue Eyes' was embraced by the public. It was his 1874 novel 'Far from the Madding' that made him become a full time novelist. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was around this time that he met Florence Dugdale. In 1912 his wife, Emma died. Her death inspired a number of Hardy's poems including The Going and The Haunter. He spent most of 1913 revisiting Cornwall where he first met Emma and the following year he marries again. He marries Florence Dugdale who at the time was his secretary. The Boer War was going on during this period and this inspired a lot of Hardy's poetry as did the sinking of the Titanic. WW1 was also a theme of some of Hardy's poetry. 1915 saw the death of Hardy's sister Mary and from 1920-27 Hardy worked on his autobiography. It was disguised as the work of Florence Hardy and appeared in two volumes. Hardy's last book published in his lifetime was Human Shows in 1925. He died in 1928 aged 88 and was cremated in Dorchester and buried in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. According to a literary anecdote his heart was to be buried in his birthplace, and all went according to plan, until a cat belonging to the poet's sister snatched the heart off the kitchen, where it was temporarily kept, and disappeared into the woods with it. ...read more.

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