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Who Is Thomas Hardy?

Born on the 2nd of June 1840, in Dorset, England, Thomas Hardy was an author and poet best known for his painfully pessimistic and fatalistic novels in line with the naturalist school of thought. His works rank among the classics of Victorian literature and he holds a place in the literary canon.

At 16, Thomas Hardy began his architectural apprenticeship. He was a renowned architect in Dorset and London until 1874 when he began writing full time after the success of Far from the Madding Crowd.

A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) chronicles his courtship with his first wife Emma Lavinia Gifford whom he met in 1870. His other novels are mostly titled after the main character whose life is under scrutiny throughout the novel as the reader is led towards the hero’s eventual demise. Thomas Hardy chose to write against Victorian morality by criticizing society’s hypocrisy and addressing the controversial social ills of the time. The ‘fallen or impure woman’ is the theme of Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), a young girl who has a child out of wedlock. Jude the Obscure (1895) is arguably the most heart wrenching of his novels which dealt with an unmarried couple with children. After widespread criticism of Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy abandoned the novel and turned to poetry.
Emma died in 1912, inspiring grief filled poetry. In 1914 he married Florence Dugdale, his secretary. Thomas Hardy died on the 11th of January 1928. His heart was buried at Emma’s grave and his ashes interred in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner.

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