Thomas Hardy

Early Life

Thomas Hardy was born on the 2nd of June in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, England. His father Thomas Hardy Sr. was a local builder, while his mother, Jemima, was a simple lady. He spent an isolated life amidst nature, enjoying the pleasures of rural life. He was greatly influenced by the environment he grew up in. His father left him in 1892 and his mother died twelve years later.

Education

Thomas spent his early life in the rural area. He was educated by his parents, especially his mother who actively transferred her love for literature to her son. Later, he went to Last’s Academy for Young men, where he received groundings in French, German mathematics and Latin. Unfortunately, his formal education ended at the age of sixteen and he did not get a chance to pursue higher education. In 1856, he became an apprentice to an architect, John Hicks. At this time, he decided to pursue his education. However,  he could not act on his desire. In 1862, inspired by his skills, Hicks sent him to King’s College, England, where he studied architecture. It was in the same year he was impressed by the local poet, Reverend Barnes and started writing his literary pieces.

Marriage

Since he established his career as an architect, he left for Cornwell on some architectural tasks. There, he met and fell in love with Emma Gifford, and the couple tied the knot in 1874.  By that time, he had fully developed his writing skills. Unfortunately, Emma’s death in 1912 left him devastated. To overcome his grief, he married Florence Emily Dugdale, his secretary, who was thirty-nine years junior to him. Sadly, the second marriage could not help him come out of his mental agony. However, he reflected this depression in his poems and dedicated many poems, short stories and a play to his first wife, Emma.

Death

Thomas Hardy, a prominent Victorian realist, led a traumatic life after the death of his first wife. Also, he was terrified by the destruction caused by World War I. In 1927, he fell ill with the chest infection and died at Max Gate in 1928. Before his death, he wrote the last poem as a dedication to his first wife. He wanted to be buried near his beloved wife, Emma, at Stinsford. However, his friends and family concurred as they wanted to bury him at the Poet’s Corner. Finally, they reached an agreement that his heart would be buried next to Emma and his ashes in Poet’s Corner of Westminster’s Abbey.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. His literary efforts and huge contribution to literature made him win Order of the Merit in 1910 and was nominated for Noble Prize for twelve times.
  2. After his death, he was remembered as the last of the Great Victorians.

Writing Career

Thomas Hardy will remain as a great literary figure. He successfully pursued two careers in life; first as an apprentice and later as a poet and writer. He started writing at the age of seventeen after inspired by Reverend William Barnes, but the publishers did not pay heed to his early pieces. Later, in 1865, he published his first prose work, A Humorous Sketch, which won a welcome reception he wanted to pursue his poetic skills more vigorously than prose. In the next three years, he wrote, The Poor Man and The Lady. His friend, George Meredith advised him not to publish this work, believing that this novel will not be accepted by the Victorian Society. Thomas took his friend’s advice, but never gave up on writing. In 1870 he published a novel, Desperate Remedies, followed by The Return of the Native in 1874. Between 1878 and 1912 he produced three volumes of short stories, nine more novels, three collections of poems and The Dynasty, a dramatic lyric. However, the cold reception and biting criticism against his last novel, Jude the Obscure, forced him to turn toward poetry.

His Style

Thomas Hardy’s unique ideas contributed a lot to the diverse world of literature and put his name in the list of one of the greatest literary men. His indifferent style can be seen in his epic dramas and ballads. He presented meticulous descriptions of characters and events which are not confined to humans; even animal and blissful nature played a crucial role in his texts. Moreover, he applied sexual imagery explicitly in his pieces and applied the modern style of writing in his novels. Also, his poetry is equipped with versatility, musicality, control of language and vitality. In most of his poems, Thomas used old English to prevent it from losing in the face of neologisms. The recurring themes in most of his writings are death, loss, loneliness, death, and life.

Thomas Hardy’s Famous Works

  • Best Poems: Thomas Hardy has produced many masterpieces. Some of his best poems include “The Darkling Thrush”, “Neutral Tunes”, “The Convergence of the Twain”, “The Man He Killed”, “The Voice” and “The Ruined Maid.”
  • Best Novels: Besides poetry, he tried his hands on novels. Some of his best novels include The Poor Man and The Lady, Under the Greenwood Tree, Jude to Obscure, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and The Return of the Native.

Thomas Hardy’s Impact on Future Literature

Thomas Hardy’s indifferent style has left deep imprints on the English as well as international literature.  His distinctive writing approach and unique way of expression made him stand out among the best Victorian Poets. His thoughtful ideas influenced many great poets and writers including, D. H. Lawrence, John Cowper Powys, and Edward Driffield. He successfully documented his ideas and feelings in his writings that even today writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him a beacon for writing prose and poetry.

Famous Quotes

  1. “A strong woman who recklessly throws away her strength, she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away.” (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)
  2. “You have never loved me as I love you–never–never! Yours is not a passionate heart–your heart does not burn in a flame! You are, upon the whole, a sort of fay, or sprite– not a woman!” (Jude the Obscure)
  3. “They spoke very little of their mutual feeling; pretty phrases and warm expressions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends.” (Far From the Madding Crowd)
  4. Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolized.” (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)

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