Thomas Hardy biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, on June 2, 1840, where his father worked as a master mason and builder. From his father he gained an appreciation of music, and from his mother an appetite for learning and the delights of the countryside about his rural home.
Hardy was frail as a child, and did not start at the village school until he was eight years old. One year later he transferred to a new school in the county town of Dorchester.
At the age of 16 Hardy helped his father with the architectural drawings for a restoration of Woodsford Castle. The owner, architect James Hicks, was impressed by the younger Hardy's work, and took him on as an apprentice.
Hardy later moved to London to work for prominent architect Arthur Blomfield. He began writing, but his poems were rejected by a number of publishers. Although he enjoyed life in London, Hardy's health was poor, and he was forced to return to Dorset.
In 1870 Hardy was sent to plan a church restoration at St. Juliot in Cornwall. There he met Emma Gifford, sister-in-law of the vicar of St.Juliot. She encouraged him in his writing, and they were married in 1874.
Hardy published his first novel, Desperate Remedies in 1871, to universal disinterest. But the following year Under the Greenwood Tree brought Hardy popular acclaim for the first time. As with most of his fictional works, Greenwood Tree incorporated real places around Dorset into the plot, including the village school of Higher Bockhampton that Hardy had first attended as a child.
Emma Hardy died in November 1912, and was buried in Stinsford churchyard. Thomas was stricken with guilt and remorse, but the result was some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings for his wife of 38 years.
Thomas Hardy - short biography by Schoolnet.
Max Gate, Dorchester - Hardy's final home, now in the care of the National Trust.
Dorset County Museum, Dorchester - houses a huge collection of Hardy memorabilia.
Hardy's Cottage, Higher Bockhampton, Dorset - Hardy's birthplace, National Trust
Stinsford - Hardy's heart is buried here in the grave of his first wife Emma.
Also try our Suggested Itineraries for touring Hardy's Dorset
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