Thomas Hardy

(1840 – 1928)

Thomas HardyBiographical Sketch

Thomas Hardy, OM (Stinsford near Dorchester, Dorset, England, June 2, 1840 – Dorchester, Dorset, England, January 11, 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist, in the tradition of George Eliot, he was also influenced both in his novels and poetry by Romanticism, especially by William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens is another important influence on Thomas Hardy. Like Dickens, he was also highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focused more on a declining rural society.

While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life, and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially therefore he gained fame as the author of such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). However, since the 1950s Hardy has been recognized as a major poet, and had a significant influence on The Movement poets of the 1950s and 1960s, including Phillip Larkin.

The bulk of his fictional works, initially published as serials in magazines, were set in the semi-fictional region of Wessex and explored tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances. Hardy’s Wessex is based on the medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom and eventually came to include the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire, and much of Berkshire, in south west England.

Read more about Thomas Hardy on Wikipedia.


Major Awards and Honors

Titles of the British Empire
  • 1910: Order of Merit
    – After having refused to accept a knighthood.
Royal Society of Literature
  • 1912: Gold Medal



Novels and Novellas
  • Desperate Remedies (1871)
  • Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)
  • A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)
  • Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)
  • The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)
  • The Return of the Native (1878)
  • The Trumpet-Major (1880)
  • The Laodicean (1881)
  • Two on a Tower (1882)
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
  • The Woodlanders (1887)
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891)
  • Jude the Obscure (1896)
  • The Well-Beloved (1897)
  • Our Exploits at West Poley (1952)
    Novella, published posthumously.
Short Story Collections
  • An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress (1878)
    Part of first unpublished novel (The Poor Man and the Lady); published as short story.
  • Wessex Tales(1888):
    • The Three Strangers
    • A Tradition of Eighteen
    • Hundred and Four
    • The Melancholy Hussar
    • The Withered Arm
    • Fellow-Townsmen
    • Interlopers at the Knap
    • The Distracted Preacher
  • A Group of Noble Dames (1891):
    • The First Countess of Wessex
    • Barbara of the House of Grebe
    • The Marchioness of Stonehenge
    • Lady Mottisfont
    • The Lady Icenway
    • Squire Petrick’s Lady
    • Anna, Lady Baxby
    • The Lady Penelope
    • The Duchess of Hamptonshire
    • The Honourable Laura
  • Life’s Little Ironies (1894):
    • An Imaginative Woman
    • The Son’s Veto
    • For Conscience’ Sake
    • A Tragedy of Two Ambitions
    • On the Western Circuit
    • To Please His Wife
    • The Fiddler of the Reels
    • A Few Crusted Characters
  • A Changed Man and Other Tales (1913):
    • A Changed Man
    • The Waiting Supper
    • Alicia’s Diary
    • The Grave by the Handpost
    • Enter a Dragoon
    • A Tryst at an Ancient Earthwork
    • What the Shepherd Saw
    • A Committee-Man of “The Terror”
    • Master John Horseleigh, Knight
    • The Duke’s Reappearance
    • A Mere Interlude
    • The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid
  • Far From the Madding Crowd (1882)
    – With J. Comyns Carr.
  • The Three Wayfarers (1893)
    Adapted from Hardy’s short story The Three Strangers.
  • The Dynasts (1903-1908)
  • The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall (1923)
  • Tess (1925-1927)
Poetry Collections
  • Wessex Poems (1898)
  • Poems of the Past and the Present (1902)
  • Time’s Laughingstocks (1909)
  • Satires of Circumstance (1914)
  • Selected Poems (1916)
  • Moments of Vision (1917)
  • Late Lyrics and Earlier (1922)
  • Human Shows (1925)
  • Winter Words (1928)
  • Collected Poems (1928)
  • Chosen Poems (1929)
  • The Early Life of Thomas Hardy, 1840 – 1891 (1928)
    On the author’s instruction, published under his widow Florence Hardy’s name.
  • The Later Years of Thomas Hardy, 1892 – 1928 (1930)
    On the author’s instruction, published under his widow Florence Hardy’s name.
Online editions of Thomas Hardy’s works:


A Selection of Quotes

The Return of the Native

“Why is it that a woman can see from a distance what a man cannot see close?”

Jude the Obscure

“People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.”

Human Shows: A Cathedral Façade at Midnight

“Along the sculptures of the western wall
I watched the moonlight creeping:
It moved as if it hardly moved at all
Inch by inch thinly peeping
Round on the pious figures of freestone, brought
And poised there when the Universe was wrought
To serve its centre, Earth, in mankind’s thought.

The lunar look skimmed scantly toe, breast, arm,
Then edged on slowly, slightly,
To shoulder, hand, face; till each austere form
Was blanched its whole length brightly
Of prophet, king, queen, cardinal in state,
That dead men’s tools had striven to simulate;
And the stiff images stood irradiate.

A frail moan from the martyred saints there set
Mid others of the erection
Against the breeze, seemed sighings of regret
At the ancient faith’s rejection
Under the sure, unhasting, steady stress
Of Reason’s movement, making meaningless.”

Find more quotes by Thomas Hardy on Wikiquote and Goodreads.