English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England to stonemason Thomas Hardy and his wife Jemima. He was taught at home by his mother and at the local school until he was sent to Dorchester in 1850, where he spent six years learning Latin and French among other subjects. Unable to pursue a scholarly or clerical career, from 1856 to 1862 he was apprenticed to a local architect who specialized in church restoration. Hardy left for London in 1862 and spent five years working as an assistant to architect Arthur Blomfield. While in London Hardy began writing poetry, and his satirical sketch "How I Built Myself a House" won a prize and was published in 1865. His first attempt at a novel was not published, although the publisher Macmillan encouraged him to keep writing.
Hardy returned to Bockhampton in 1867 and resumed architectural work. In 1870, while restoring a church in St. Juliot, he met Emma Lavinia Gifford, the rector's sister-in-law, whom he married in 1874. During this period, his first novel Desperate Remedies (1871) was published anonymously, followed by Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873), and his successes Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and The Return of the Native (1878). Hardy and Emma settled in Dorchester in 1885 at Max Gate, a large villa that Hardy designed and in which he lived for the rest of his life. His literary popularity continued with The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), but his final two novels, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), evoked controversy. Disturbed by the public uproar, Hardy returned to writing poetry, collecting his earlier poems in Wessex Poems (1898) and publishing an epic drama in blank verse, The Dynasts, in three parts (1904-1908). Emma Hardy died suddenly in 1912 and prompted the poems that appeared in Poems 1912-13 (1913). In 1914, Hardy married his secretary, Florence Emily Dugdale.
During his long life, Hardy wrote 14 novels, more than 40 short stories, over 900 poems, two dramas, and also worked on his autobiography from 1920 to 1927. He died at Max Gate at the age of 87 in 1928. A compromise arrangement between the family and Hardy's literary executor resulted in Hardy's remains being buried in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in London, except for his heart, which was buried alongside his first wife Emma in Dorchester.
The Thomas Hardy collection contains manuscript works and correspondence by Hardy as well as Hardy-related materials created by others. The Works series contains manuscripts mainly of poetry, but also includes some of Hardy's stories, an article on Stonehenge, a paper on church restoration, a dramatic version of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, a play synopsis for Jude the Obscure, an epilogue to The Dynasts, and a few other pieces. In addition to literary works, there are also 20 architectural drawings by Hardy for the restoration of St. Juliot's Church, Cornwall, dating from 1867 to 1870.
The Correspondence series consists mainly of letters written by Hardy to multiple recipients. The largest groups of these letters were written to banker, politician, and author Sir Edward Robert Pearce Edgcumbe; playwright St. John Greer Ervine; publisher and author Sir Newman Flower; jurist and historian Frederic Harrison; and poet Sir Henry John Newbolt. A small number of letters written to Hardy are also present. The final series is made up largely of correspondence relating to Thomas Hardy and includes a few letters either written by or received by his wives Emma or Florence. Several of the letters were written to Howard Bliss.
This collection was digitized as part of Project REVEAL (Read and View English & American Literature).
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Series I. Works by Thomas Hardy, 1867-1922, undated
Series II. Correspondence by or to Thomas Hardy, 1880-1928
Series III. Works and Correspondence re Thomas Hardy, 1890-1937